FILE - Confederate Railroad

Country music fans are reflected in the glasses of Confederate Railroad lead singer Danny Shirley during a concert at the annual International Country Music Fan Fair in Nashville, Tenn. June 12, 2000.

It’s unclear how much taxpayers will have to pay, if anything, to breach a contract with a country act that has been removed from the entertainment lineup for the DuQuion State Fair, but a downstate Illinois legislator said he’s baffled by what he sees as the hypocrisy of one state fair act being canceled while another is still expected to take center stage.

The DuQuoin State Fair, which runs Aug. 23 through Sept. 2, had initially listed the country music group Confederate Railroad among those slated to perform at the event. That performance was later canceled.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture said in a statement it had “removed Confederate Railroad from our 2019 DuQuoin State Fair grandstand lineup. While every artist has a right to expression, we believe this decision is in the best interest of serving all the people of our state.”

State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, said that makes no sense. He said he doesn’t listen to country music, but did look into Confederate Railroad after the group was removed from the lineup.

“It’s just a bunch of southern redneck music, I guess, is how I would term it,” Bailey said. “But yet let’s look at the other side of the coin with Snoop Dogg who is to me is as anti-American, I don’t care who the president is, as anti-American as you can get. And we don’t stand for this stuff and we should not tolerate this.”

Some on social media called for a boycott of the fair over the cancelation of Confederate Railroad.

Bailey shared on social media a graphic depicting a Confederate Railroad album cover that contained the Confederate flag next to a Snoop Dogg album cover that shows the feet of a cadaver with a toe tag labeled “Trump.”

Snoop Dogg is set to perform Aug. 16 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

The controversy made national notoriety with country artist Charlie Daniels posted on Twitter: “This political correctness thing is totally out of control.” He said the move is “giving in to fascism,” and he’s “sick of it.”

Bailey said there are some questions the Department of Agriculture is going to have to answer.

“There was probably a contract signed, so what did the state of Illinois give up, what is the cost of canceling Confederate Railroad?” Bailey asked.

Messages seeking comment from Illinois Department of Agriculture about the contract were not immediately returned. A Freedom of Information Act request for the contract is pending.

Bailey said it makes no sense to feature Snoop Dogg, who’s made controversial overtones threatening President Donald Trump, at the fair in Springfield next month while canceling a country music act.

“This is the Illinois Department of Ag that is behind [this],” Bailey said. “These are the people that are supposed to be common sense, down-to-earth people. How does this happen?”

If Confederate Railroad were to perform, Bailey said he expects it would be a sellout show, boosting the fair's bottom line.

Confederate Railroad put out a statement Tuesday in reaction to the controversy. 

"As many of you know, we were scheduled to perform at the Illinois State Fair in Du Quoin, Illinois on August 27, along with our friends Restless Heart and Shenandoah," the statement said. "We have since been removed from that show by the Illinois Department of Agriculture because of the name of our band. This was very disappointing as we have played this fair before and enjoyed it very much."

"The outpouring of support from Confederate Railroad fans, fans of other acts, and the public in general, has been both overwhelming and very much appreciated," Danny Shirley said in the statement. "I would also like to thank the actors, athletes and fellow country music artists who have spoken out in support. It has been brought to my attention that several people have asked both Restless Heart and Shenandoah to cancel their shows in protest of our cancellation. I have spoken to both acts and encouraged them to perform as scheduled. Live concerts are how we pay our bills and feed our families. I would never want to see another act lose a payday because of this. Please go out to hear these two great bands. As I have said many times onstage, I am by no means a saint but, I am a man of faith and I have faith that God will see us through this as well as whatever comes next! Thank you for your support." 

Staff Writer

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.