JAMES BROWN James & Maryln Brown
Fair Board dismisses the backlash as politics
UPDATED Tuesday, April 18:
Ted Nugent still will perform Aug. 4 at the Wisconsin Valley Fair this summer, despite his appearance setting off a firestorm of controversy this week after the fair announced its grandstand lineup.
After meeting Monday night, the Wisconsin Valley Fair Board decided to keep the 68-year-old rocker on the schedule because he was already under contract, says board member Rick Seefeldt, who’s also a Marathon County board member. According to Seefeldt, the Fair Board came to a consensus during the roughly half-hour meeting, which he says didn’t delve into any policy the fair might take when choosing performers in the future.
“Basically what we said was we have nothing to do with politics, we booked him for entertainment,” Seefeldt told City Pages, explaining that board members agreed that because Nugent was contracted to perform, it would be too late, and too expensive, to find someone else.
The booking of Ted Nugent as a grandstand show during the fair in Wausau spurred numerous comments on the fair’s Facebook page lamenting the decision, plus even more rebuttals from people either excited about the performance or knocking down liberal “snowflakes” and “whiners.”
Nugent has been controversial for his racial, anti-feminist and political comments, including publicly calling former President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and “piece of shit,” and referring to Hillary Clinton as a “worthless bitch.”
Wisconsin Valley Fair administrator Kaitlyn Bernarde said Monday, April 17, that the decision to book the outspoken rocker was under review, saying the organization was “unaware of the volume of negative feedback we would receive.”
“Ted Nugent’s words and actions do not reflect the values of the Wisconsin Valley Fair,” Bernarde says. “The Wisconsin Valley Fair is a county-wide community event for the whole family.”
But on Tuesday, Fair Board president Keith Langenhahn told WSAU news that the backlash was due to some people “trying to make the fair, evidently a partisan thing.”
Seefeldt, who served on the board 25 years ago for nine years and joined the board again in 2013, says he doesn’t recall any other controversy over an entertainer at the fair. Seefeldt says acts are told to keep their stage performance at the fair family friendly.
Over the past few years, several venues across the U.S. have canceled Nugent’s scheduled concerts because of controversy surrounding the singer’s “racist and hate-filled remarks,” as described by one Idaho casino that canceled its booking of Nugent in 2014.
The 1970s rocker, best known for his hit “Cat Scratch Fever” has sold an estimate 40 million records. Endearing to many fans, his pro-gun, pro-hunting was always evident, but took a sharp political tone —and gained more national attention—with the 2008 presidential election, including waving a machine gun on stage and using vulgarities to describe left-wing politicians.
Nugent was a presumed performer at Donald Trump’s January 2017 inauguration festivities, but declined, citing hunting plans.
Nugent’s 2017 “Rockin’ America Again” summer tour so far lists 37 shows, including the Fond du Lac County Fair on July 22 and his scheduled Aug. 4 concert in Wausau for the fair.
When asked Monday to clarify if "review" meant reconsidering Nugent's appearance, Bernarde said, "Due to this, we will review this decision, as well as our mission and values in booking entertainment in the future.”