Every year, for just two short weeks, the fair comes to the town of Bloomsburg. Thousands of people attend the event which takes place near the end of September into the first weekend of October. There are games, prizes, shows, and interesting concoctions of food that most people do not eat on a regular basis. Each year it seems the fair grows with more vendors and more people attending. With more people, more things are able to slip under the radar. That happened this year at Bloomsburg’s 161st fair, when a vendor named Lawrence Betsinger operated a stand selling Nazi Flags.
It was first reported by fair goer, Chloe Winters, whom had a very strong stance on the matter, posted a picture along with a lengthy response on Facebook. The post went viral quickly, however, the Bloomsburg Fair Security team was not notified until the next day as to what had happened. The security team located Betsinger, spoke to him about why he could not continue selling the flags, then asked him to leave.
It was later reported that Betsinger, 72, is a registered sex offender and was found guilty on 20 counts of possession of child pornography. Geri Gibbons, a writer from Times Leader, was able to catch up with Betsinger. He told her; “I didn’t do anything wrong,” I downloaded some (expletive) on the Internet, and now I’m being punished for the rest of my life.”
Other people might not have the same views as Betsinger, as many people have voiced their own opinions on the matter. Tom, a senior at Bloomsburg University, stated, “I think future vendors should sign a release saying they are not sex offenders or convicted of a crime, but I do understand it would be extremely difficult with the amount of vendors at the fair”, as over 1,200 vendors were present this year. Other fair goers had different views such as Rob, another senior at Bloomsburg University, “I am not a supporter of Nazi’s, but I do support freedom of speech. If you do not like the flag, then do not buy one”.
Which ever side you fall on, either vilifying Betsinger for his actions or supporting his right to express himself freely, everyone must feel uncomfortable with a sex offender being around so many children. Luckily, nothing escalated after Betsinger was asked to leave the premises. The fair has been and always will be a fun event to attend and hopefully an incident like this will never happen again.
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