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Partisan dispute targets fun at county fair

Target practice on a donkey at the fairgrounds.
Target practice on a donkey at the fairgrounds.

ELMA — A partisan dispute briefly eclipsed the fun at the Grays Harbor County Fair on Friday when the director of the fair had to ask Republicans to stop shooting Nerf guns at a poster poking fun at Democrats.

Since Wednesday, the Grays Harbor Republicans have had a poster of a donkey up in their booth in the fairgrounds pavilion. The donkey states, “Help me try out Obamacare! I don’t know what’s covered because I haven’t read it yet.” And there’s a bull’s eye with points like a dart board on the donkey’s forehead and the donkey’s rear end.

Former Grays Harbor Democratic chairman Patrick Wadsworth, who is currently the party’s secretary, said he was offended by not just the poster, but the fact that people were shooting darts at the poster. A donkey is the classic representation of the Democratic Party. He called it “right-wing hatred.”

“To disagree is fine, but this is hatred, and is not acceptable,” Wadsworth said in an email to his fellow Democrats. “The fair is for promoting fun not hatred.”

Wadsworth encouraged Democrats to call and complain to the fairgrounds’ office. And complain they did — to the point that Fair Director Mike Bruner requested the Republicans stop letting people shoot at the poster.

“We got a few calls from the public and we need to keep things from being too controversial,” Bruner said. “We found some middle ground in that it was free speech to allow them to keep the poster up itself, but shooting at it, perhaps, rose to an inappropriate level. This really was a compromise because there were some people who just wanted the poster taken down altogether.”

Dennis Brumbaugh of Montesano was a volunteer in the Republican and noted that they had a line of kids “at least 10 deep, each wanting to take a shot at the donkey poster.”

“I think it’s silly that we had to stop one of the most popular stops in the pavilion because we hurt somebody’s feelings,” Brumbaugh said. “The poster helped us illustrate just how ludicrous Obamacare will become and really gave us an avenue to talk to parents about the issue as their kids were entertained with a Nerf gun. It didn’t hurt anybody.”

Brumbaugh noted that after The Vidette’s story was first posted online on Friday and published in a weekend edition of The Daily World, attendance at the Republican booth soared.

At the Republican’s fair booth, the poster was still up Friday night with a suction-cup bolt stuck on the donkey’s rear end. No guns were to be found. A couple volunteers lamented that their “second amendment rights had been taken away.”

“The Democrats showed their true colors when in a desperate attempt to make up for getting outdone in every way, shape, and form at the Grays Harbor County Fair, pulled out their box of made up diversion tactics and posted that the GOP was hateful in having a banner of a donkey’s rear-end with a target on it and allowing children to shoot foam darts at it,” Grays Harbor Republican Chairwoman Beth DeVaul said. “The Fair Manager asked us to stop the shooting and we complied with their request. Well, Dems, we would have allowed you to play, too. We don’t discriminate. It was a game. No actual animals were injured in the photography or in shooting at the image. Also, Nerf guns and darts are sold at most toy stores. They are harmless. If you disagee with the Dems and would like to support the Grays Harbor GOP, please stop by and patronize one of our booths at this year’s fair. We are selling fish and chips and pizza in our food booth in the former 4-H food booth location and have our information booth in the usual location in the pavilion.”

The Grays Harbor Democrats also had a booth and were selling “Demo-Burgers” in the food court area.

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