Woman 'disgusted' after seeing slave shackles for sale at town festival
MANSFIELD, Ind. (WTTV) -- A vendor at the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival left a woman "disgusted" and "hurt" after she saw what they had for sale.
Linda Wann has attended the festival with her family for the last 15 years. When they visited this past Saturday, Wann says she saw a vendor selling various racially insensitive items; including glassware that featured the "Mammy" character, which is a slavery and Jim Crow era depiction of a black woman.
“And when I looked to my left, that’s when I saw these chains with the cuffs on the end and I said, I know these can’t be slave chains,” she said.
One of the shackles said "NEGRO WOMAN OR CHILD ONLY" and had a $250 price tag. The other shackle said "PROPERTY OF GEORGE TOWN COUNTY PLANTATION POLICE."
“why is this being done? why at this time does someone feel comfortable enough to sell something like this,” Wann said.
She took a photo of the shackles and posted them to Facebook and Instagram.
Parke County Incorporated, which oversees part of the festival released a statement saying in part:
"This is just one item of billions of items being sold in Parke County during our Covered Bridge Festival. The item in question does not represent us as a county. It does not define our historic festival. We hope that visitors can look beyond this one item to the many more items that are offered to them."
Other organizers of the festival say the vendor who tried to sell the shackles has sold at the festival before, though since the controversy broke out the vendor is no longer selling merchandise at the Mansfield location.
Wann says her Facebook post has received positive and negative feedback. However, she says many of the examples of the negative feedback are racially charged.
Despite the attention her posts have brought, Wann says she's still waiting on an official explanation or apology from festival officials.
“This is not the history that you should be selling,” she said.
Wann now says her family will no longer be attending the festival; breaking a 15 year tradition.
The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival runs through Sunday.