Kent Cornucopia Days were July 14-16 in downtown Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

Kent Cornucopia Days were July 14-16 in downtown Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

47th District Republicans kicked out of Kent Cornucopia Days

Kent Lions evicted group at end of second day of three-day festival

The 47th District Republicans were “extremely disappointed” when the Kent Lions Club kicked them out of their vendor booth during the popular Kent Cornucopia Days festival downtown.

“While the show organizers were not politically motivated in their decision, it seemed apparent that they gave weight to a politically motivated complaint,” said Allan Goers, district chair of the 47th District Republicans, in an email to the Kent Reporter when asked about the eviction.

Goers said the group was removed the evening of July 15, the second day of the three-day festival July 14-16 run by the Kent Lions Club. The 47th Legislative District covers parts of Kent, Covington and Auburn.

“The 47th District Republicans were extremely disappointed by the decision of the Kent Lions Club to evict our group from the Kent Cornucopia vendor booth,” Goers said. “The primary reason for the issue was the popularity of the signature gathering effort for Referendum 101 and Initiative 2081.”

That referendum, which failed to get enough signatures statewide by the July 22 deadline to make the November ballot, aimed to get voters to overturn Senate Bill 5599. That bill established a new law this week to allow shelters to notify state authorities instead of parents when a young person seeks refuge to pursue gender-affirming care or reproductive health services.

I-2081 would establish the parents’ bill of rights for those who have students in public schools. Goers said it is asking for transparency in schools with parents regarding curriculum, medical procedures and more The I-2081 deadline is Dec. 29 to collect enough signatures to refer the measure to the Legislature and potentially voters.

“These significant ‘parental rights’ issues resulted in hundreds of voters showing up at the 47th GOP booth asking to sign the petitions,” Goers said. “There were also six other initiatives on taxes and public safety that most attendees also signed.”

Susie Kiminki, chair of street fair vendors for the Kent Lions Club, said in a phone interview that she did not want to comment about the removal of the group.

Goers said the overflowing crowds overwhelmed the 10-foot by 10-foot booth and caused a number of people to stand in the aisle, forcing the 47th crew to help them outside the booth.

“We recognize that show rules dictate that vendors’ staff are to remain within their booth,” he said. “At the same time, we were making good faith and best efforts to constrain the crowds and help people quickly. Show organizers repeatedly returned to the booth to enforce the rules.”

Goers said it was noted that a nearby vendor filed multiple complaints, visited the 47th booth a few times to yell at staff, and even called the police on Saturday afternoon (July 15).

“It was clear from all observers that the other vendor was politically and ideologically opposed to the 47th GOP objectives,” Goers said.

Goers said at no time did the staff wander out into the street to solicit people and there was never a time when the crowds blocked the street or made it difficult for passersby to get through to other vendors. He said the signers and staff never blocked access to any other booth.

“It was also noted that a number of other booths had a similar issue – staff ‘hawking’ (calling out to passersby) and helping customers outside their booth,” Goers said. “They were apparently not penalized.”

On Saturday evening, Goers said the 47th GOP reconfigured their booth to allow more signers, at the suggestion of the show staff. But shortly after those accommodations were made, the show officials informed the booth staff they had decided to evict the 47th team entirely at the end of the day.

“They threatened to call the police and eject the booth team forcefully if we did not comply,” Goers said. “Show officials were unwilling to listen to an appeal and consider the reconfiguration and efforts to abide by show rules.”

On July 16, Goers said the 47th GOP staff took to the public sidewalks outside the show boundaries to exercise their free-speech rights and continue to gather hundreds of additional signatures on these critical public issues. He said almost a thousand signatures were gathered by the 47th GOP.

“The 47th District Republicans plan to return to Kent Cornucopia in 2024 to meet the needs of a growing public outcry to defend principles of free speech, parental rights, reducing taxes and government intrusion, and more.” Goers said.

He said the 47th has already made plans to request two booths in order to manage the crowds, which are expected to be even larger in the all-important presidential election year.

“It is our aim to fully comply with show rules at next year’s event,” he said.

Goers said the group also had a booth July 15-16 at the Covington Days Festival.

“We had the same material at Covington,” he said. “We only had one person that was upset with us being there.”

Goers said a lot of people at the Covington event signed the R-101 petition.

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