Ask an Atheist… At the Fair!

The Inland Northwest Freethought Society and the Spokane Secular Society will join forces again this summer and host a booth at the Kootenai County Fair in Idaho (Wednesday, the 21st through Sunday, the 25th of August) and the Spokane County Interstate Fair (Friday, the 6th of September through Sunday, the 15th of September). This will be our second year at the Idaho Fair and the third for the Spokane shindig. I heartily invite any of the Spokane Faith & Values contributors and readers who may be visiting either fair to stop by our table and say hi.
Our experiences at the fairs have proven quite gratifying. The primary purpose has been to show the community we exist, and afford like-minded people to learn about us. (Many people, especially young folk, had no clue that there is a secular presence in the local area, and we have received many a “thumbs-up” as a result). We had much the same experience at the Garland Street Fair last month, where we had a small table as well.
Although there are religious groups represented at the fairs also, we have had no unpleasant moments on that account. (One bunch at the North Idaho fair even stopped by to give us a box of donuts as a gift.) We do occasionally have some spirited (but nonetheless civil) chats with religious visitors. Though we do get a few “I just swallowed a bug” disparaging glances from some passersby, those who take the trouble to stop in and talk to us soon discover that we don’t bite after all.
We’ll be having an “Ask an Atheist” placard up at the tables again this year as well, affording those of a non-atheist persuasion to learn more about what we actually believe, and help dispel some of the ‘cobwebs’ that still cling to the misconceptions held by some of the public. As always, a civil exchange can go far in bridging what seems, at times, to be chasms between believers and atheists.
One delightful addition to the Spokane Fair table this year will be Spokane native, Julia Sweeney, who will be in town and will help staff the table on the final day, Sunday, September 15. Her accomplished wit (from “Pat” on Saturday Night Live to the wonderful performance theater of “Letting Go of God”) will be a splendid cap to what I hope will be another fine chance to meet with the people of our region at the Fairs and get to know one another better.