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Drag bingo at Melon Fest cancelled after congressional candidate posts controversial image

Candidates post upsets Facebook users
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 4:33 PM EDT
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HOWELL, Mich. (WILX) - Some in Mid-Michigan are frustrated by a congressional candidate’s Facebook post about a drag bingo event which appears to show a cross on fire.

The event is part of Melon Fest which is being put on by the Howell Parks and Recreation Department.

“The Melon Fest is a family event, and so they’re promoting this as a sexualized side show and the City of Howell is promoting this. So taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook,” said Detmer.

Detmer posted on Facebook suggesting a Christian revival at next year’s festival.

“If the left is as tolerant as they say they are, surely they would be tolerant of a Christian revival which, by the way, we would have off site. We wouldn’t have at the city expense,” he said.

The post now has over 1,000 comments. Some of them are questioning the image he chose, a cross that appears to be burning. That image is controversial, particularly for the area Detmer is talking about, because of its association with a white supremacist organization.

A burning cross is the symbol of the Ku Klux Klan. The leader of the Michigan Klan lived in Howell before his death.

Commenters on the post are pointing out the association between the imagery in the post and the...
Commenters on the post are pointing out the association between the imagery in the post and the burning cross used by the KKK.(NA)

“The reason that image is so inflammatory is because of the history of Howell. I’m 40 years old. I was a young kid when I believe the last cross burning took place in Howell,” said Andi Roose who is upset by Detmer’s post.

“It’s not a burning cross,” said Detmer. “That’s something the KKK does. It’s an artistic, glowing cross, but it’s not a burning cross, no.”

Detmer says he’s starting the process of planning a Christian festival for next year.

Tuesday, organizers of the drag bingo event said they no longer felt it was safe to hold the activity. Tim Church from the Howell Parks and Recreation Authority sent out a message on Facebook confirming that the event was cancelled.

“...Saturday’s Drag Bingo event at the Historic Howell Theater has been cancelled,” Church wrote. “While there are many reasons that lead to this decision, ultimately it came down to a mutual understanding that the safety and wellbeing of our performers, attendees, volunteers and staff was a huge priority. Ticked holders will receive a full refund.”

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