Wow. Only in Cumberland County can something so simple, fun and delightful like our county fair become the center of confusion, deception and controversy. Well, this is the case in the recent development involving the Cumberland County Fair and local county resident Robert E. Lee of Linden.
  The question at hand is not only: Who is going to manage and present the 2009 Cumberland County Fair? But, who actually owns the name? For 11 years the Cumberland County Fair has grown, prospered and developed into a much-anticipated annual event attended and enjoyed by tens of thousands of county and area residents. So why then is our County Attorney Grainger Barrett having to rally the troops to protect and defend this event from what looks like a community hijacking? Hmmmmm?
  {mosimage}Here is what we know: After the Cumberland Civic Center commission terminated the contract of Hubert Bullard, the former fair manager of 11 years, Robert E. Lee, current retiree and former failed Jaycee Fair promoter of the ‘90s, presented a proposal to the Civic Center Commission to manage the upcoming 2009 CC Fair.
His platform being that the county should do more business locally. This can only mean that Lee represents a business he wants to bring in, but has never surfaced in any public forum.
  His proposal was rejected and the commission decided to stay with its existing fair contractor J&J Amusements, of Canton, Ohio. (As a side note J&J has hired Bullard as a contractor to help oversee the fair — is this what the commission wanted? We’ll see.)
  After the rejection, Robert E. Lee laid claim to and incorporated the name Cumberland County Fair. He started quietly promoting his own county fair, although he would not say what it was going to be called or where it was going to be held when contacted by our staff. However, we did find out it would be presented in the fall about one week before the traditional date of the county fair. As a result of this, both Cumberland County and Lee have lawyered up. County Attorney Grainger Barrett crying “foul” on behalf of the county’s citizens and asking that Lee “cease and desist,” claiming that the event belongs to Cumberland County. In the meantime. Andy Dempster, Lee’s attorney, is trying to negotiate a compromise.
  Compromise? The question I have is what “compromise?” From where I sit, the 11-year history of the Cumberland County Fair speaks for itself. Under the leadership and supervision of the Civic Center Commission and the direct management of Hubert Bullard, the fair has prospered to become a venue tens of thousands of residents have come to love and enjoy. Why, would anyone, for any reason, want to interfere with that?
  Sorry, Mr. Lee. Cumberland County has come a long way since 1992 when you ran the Cape Fair Regional Fair for the Jaycees. Had that fair been successful a CC Fair would never have been needed. Creating a competing fair venue under any name or in any location will only confuse the marketplace and can only be interpreted as a hostile and vindictive gesture by someone out of touch with the dynamics of this growing community. Local leadership is working overtime to create a higher standard of living for its residents and a better, brighter image of the Fayetteville/Cumberland community. It’s unfortunate, that in this economy and with all the other pressing issues facing our county today, our commissioners, county manager and officials are forced to address and defend this action. This kind of frivolous shenanigan is right out of the ‘90s, Mr. Lee. Cumberland County has moved on and I hope you will too. Let bygones be bygones and let’s move forward with what is really FAIR about the FAIR.


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