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Olmsted County Fair won't cancel Prof concert after backlash

The fair board held a special meeting this week in response to the criticism.

The Olmsted County Fair board won't be canceling a planned concert featuring Minneapolis hip-hop artist Prof, which is scheduled for the fairgrounds next month. 

The Olmsted County Fair Board on Thursday addressed the July 23 concert in a news release after receiving backlash over the headliner. Prof was dropped by Rhymesayers last year, with the record label citing misogynistic tweets that some say perpetuate rape culture.

Controversy regarding the scheduled Prof concert grew last week, with some calling on the show to be canceled and criticizing the fair board for booking the artist, the Rochester Post Bulletin reported

Stationary Astronauts, the promotor that booked the concert, addressed the controversy on Facebook, saying there are "zero allegations against Prof" and they stand behind the truth, not "fables pulled from thin air by third parties whose only mission is to spread more hatred and fear."

The drama over the concert led the nonprofit, volunteer fair board to hold a special meeting this week to discuss the issue. And on Thursday the board said it would not cancel Prof's show, which will take place the week before the Olmsted County Fair, noting the concert "is not a county fair event."

The fair board said it uses outside promoters for concerts and other events, with the fair receiving a "small compensation" based on attendance, as well as revenue from parking. 

"Although the fair board may not agree with the social media posts, music, and lyrics, Prof has never been charged with a crime and has done nothing illegal. Individuals can choose to purchase a ticket or not. We, as a fair board, support inclusive entertainment and events for our diverse community," the board said. 

Fair board president Scott Schneider told the Rochester Post Bulletin earlier this week they turned to offering pre-fair events this year, including the Prof concert and drive-in movies, to help offset some of the financial losses the fair has seen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He admitted that the fair board wouldn't have approved Prof as a performer for the week of the fair. He also told the paper that board members have made their own inquiries about Prof, noting he hasn't been accused or charged with a crime and has distanced himself from his former DJ who Prof said had "sexual misconduct allegations."

Prof's July 23 concert is his first live show since Rhymesayers dropped him last summer, and the rapper has since publicly apologized for some of the words and imagery released under his name. 

The fair board in its statement Thursday also addressed comments Stationary Astronauts made as calls for the concert to be canceled grew, saying: "We are aware of the response from this specific promotor. While we do not agree with how the promotor handled it, we will not be canceling this or any of their events."

That's apparently in reference to comments Stationary Astronauts owner Nick McLaughlin made toward another concert promoter, Rosei Skipper, who has been one of the loudest critics of the scheduled concert. Med City Beat notes the two have been "waging a digital battle against each other for the past week," adding McLaughlin in a now-deleted video criticized Skipper and suggested her criticisms could affect her ability to find work. 

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