The decision of the Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival to not allow local group Vets Serving Vets to sell T-shirts at the annual event has left many Middlesboro residents upset.
The Vets Serving Vets post announcing the decision has went viral since it appeared on their Facebook page Monday night. Since the post, hundreds have shared the vets status and declared their stance against the festival. Many have went as far as encouraging a complete boycott of the festival, asking that instead of spending money at the festival, people come downtown in front of radio station WRIL The Big One 106.3 instead. VSV will be set up in front of the station selling their shirts and raffle tickets on Friday and Saturday.
Local musical group Malachi was set to take the stage at 7 p.m. on Friday but announced on Facebook late Wednesday night they would not be performing as scheduled.
According to Malachi front-man Don Reynolds, he does not feel the CMFF had made a correct decision in their refusal to allow VSV to sell the T-shirts and as a result Malachi will not be performing at the festival.
Reynolds, a veteran of the United States Air Force, says his band mates supported his decision.
“This was a personal decision of mine as a veteran and it was supported by my very good friends in our music group,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds also points out the group has worked with both the city of Middlesboro and VSV at several past events and the group looks as their performing at both types of events as a way to giving back to the community.
Reynolds went on to say that he nor the group is supporting the boycott of the festival, as they understand vendors have paid fees and there will still be plenty of entertainment at the event.
“I or our group in no way are recommending a boycott of the festival,” said Reynolds. “I know that vendors have paid fees and planned for this and we don’t want them to lose money. Also, there will still be plenty of entertainment at the festival and we all have friends that are involved in the festival.”
Reynolds echos the thoughts and opinions of many who have taken to social media, voicing their opinions on what possible solutions could have been implemented and will hopefully be implement for future years of the festival.
“I feel there should have been an exception to the rule and maybe a section could be made available for these groups apart from the vendors,” said Reynolds. “Hopefully, next year this rule will be reevaluated and these charity and non-profit groups that assist people will be allowed to sell their items to raise funds.”
Malachi is not the only entertainment that decided to pull out of the entertainment schedule in light of the VSV issue.
Local band Bad Company announced on Facebook Thursday morning their decision to cancel their performance at the CMFF.
“We know many of you were excited about us playing at the Cumberland Mountain Festival this weekend. Because of the festival committee’s actions toward the Vets Serving Vets organization we are not playing at the festival.”
Instead of playing at the festival as scheduled on Saturday night at 7 p.m., Bad Decision is now playing at VFW post #8779 at 9 p.m. on Saturday night. Admission is $5 and along with all tips, will be donated to VSV.
The CMFF committee spoke out about the issue on their Facebook page on Wednesday saying, “The committee of this festival never denied Vets Serving Vets to set up at the festival. They were simply asked not to sell anything not hand made. Hundreds of crafters have been told if they would attend the festival there would be nothing sold that was not hand made. This was in attempt to grow the number of crafters attending the festival. We not only ask the veterans to be a part of the festival we also let them set up for free. They sold food last year and did very well selling everything they brought. We all support the veterans and appreciate all they have done for us and our country. Without the courage of these brave men and women we would not even be able to have this festival.”
Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-302-9091 or on Twitter @ReinaDailyNews