Photo courtesy of Ammo Crafters.
Ammo Crafters, a veteran-owned business, was asked to leave the Chester Fair in Chester, Conn., on Aug. 24 after one of their T-shirts with an illustration of an AR-15 rifle was deemed inappropriate by the fair’s organizers.
Marcos Diaz, COO of Ammo Crafters, told America’s 1st Freedom that after a fairgoer voiced her displeasure about a particular T-shirt around mid-afternoon, she then made her feelings known to fair organizers. The T-shirt in question was Ammo Crafters’ “Love Your Rifle” T-shirt, which depicts “I (heart symbol) over a rifle silhouette.”
“I thought nothing of it at first,” said Diaz, until Chester Fair President Tim Comstock came to the Ammo Crafters booth shortly thereafter. “Tim [Comstock] came by our booth with a check and said, ‘you guys have to leave this place. We are going to give you a refund.’”
Diaz said he was told that the main reason Ammo Crafters was asked to leave was “because the violent nature of [their] products.”
The refund check covered the $100 cost of the booth. “I haven’t even cashed it because I feel so disgusted by what happened,” said Diaz.
The Chester Fair released a statement saying the “fair office received several complaints from attendees regarding the appropriateness of one vendor’s items in general,” specifically the T-shirt. The statement noted: “The vendors contract was reviewed and the vendor confirmed that the shirt was a new design that had not been offered at last year’s fair. It was determined that [the T-shirt] was not in keeping with the mission of the fair and the vendor was asked to leave.”
The Chester Fair began in the fall of 1877 to “promote and sustain agriculture and related activities.” It is operated by the Chester Agricultural and Mechanical Society, which is comprised of 35 members, who operate and maintain the 17-acre fairgrounds.
Ammo Crafters, a veteran-owned business, sells barware products and patriotic clothing. It had a booth at the Chester Fair in 2018 and signed a three-day contract for the 2019 fair that ran from Aug. 23 to 25.
Diaz said that based on projected sales from that Friday and previous events, Ammo Crafters lost thousands in potential revenue. He noted that Saturday night is typically the busiest and most profitable night of the fair.
“This is how we make our money. Sales guys work commission based. We don’t sell, we don’t make money. It’s what fuels the business,” said Diaz.
The woman who reportedly complained at the Ammo Crafters booth and later to fair organizers, holds the highest government position in the town of Chester. Diaz contends that her standing in the town contributed to Ammo Crafters’ dismissal from the fair even though she was not complaining as an official but a citizen.
Diaz says she told him, “I can’t believe you have this shirt here, this is indecent,” before going to other booths in the vicinity and voicing her negative opinions about Ammo Crafters.
The woman could not be reached for comment by America’s 1st Freedom.
FOX61 reported that she told them in an off-camera interview that her issue was with the position of a particular T-shirt and confirmed that she brought her concerns to the attention of the fair organizers.
Diaz said his company participates in 150 events a year and has never been asked to leave one. Ammo Crafters was founded by Diaz and Emmanuel Rijo in Sept. 2017. They began by manufacturing wine stoppers from old ammunition and later expanded their products to include bottle openers, clothing and barware. The company also sells Black Rifle Coffee products and works with other veteran-owned businesses. He said they also work closely with the Veterans Affairs Clinic in nearby Newington, Conn., and hire veterans.Diaz said the company will continue selling their products at local fairs and supporting other veteran-owned businesses.