Sons of Confederate Veterans denied participation in festival

Published: Mar. 6, 2013 at 1:11 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2013 at 6:42 AM CST
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PALESTINE, TX (KLTV) - The Dogwood Trails Festival in downtown Palestine will have one less booth occupied this month now that organizers have denied a group they're calling, "politically divisive."

The John H. Reagan Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans say they are both disappointed and confused by the city's decision. A spokesperson for the group said they are a historical organization that honors all veterans of all wars.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans say they'll still participate in the Dogwood Trails Festival, just like they have in years past, but this year they'll do it on their own property.

That booth will be set up about two blocks away from the main festival activity and on private land. That location is where the camp is currently building a memorial plaza that they'll dedicate to veterans in April.

Tuesday, the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce did not go on camera regarding their decision to deny the Sons of Confederate Veteran's participation in the festival, but the board of directors did provide this statement,

"The Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce is FOR building a stronger community.  Our volunteers spend countless hours doing so. It is not in the community's best interest to allow politically divisive groups to participate in the Dogwood Trails parade or to be a vendor at the Festival. We are charged with the responsibility to operate on behalf of the city of Palestine."

The Sons of Confederate veterans say they are a historical group-- not political, adding that they do not endorse candidates.

"We're strictly about historical study and honoring veterans," says John H. Reagan Camp Adjutant Doug Smith.  He says calling their group, "politically divisive," couldn't be further from the truth.

"We certainly don't want this to be a problem for Palestine or Dogwood Trials," Smith says.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans say they still hold the parade permit for their memorial plaza dedication on April 13th and will follow through with that event.

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