The 2019 edition of Civil War Days at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda, Ill., might be the last one hosted by the Lake County Forest Preserves after the district's board debated the appropriateness of the annual commemoration Tuesday.
In fact, the event's cancellation was announced on Monday via the forest preserves' website, a move that ended up being walked back following Tuesday's debate.
Discussion at the forest preserves board meeting began after Wayne Carle, who helps coordinate the re-enactors who participate in the event, asked for an explanation for the posted cancellation.
Many board members expressed that they did not hear about the cancellation until an hour before the meeting.
Board President Angelo Kyle said he cancelled the event in part because he wanted the district to look at other issues like global warming and climate change.
Many board members were stunned, with former president of the forest preserves Ann Maine questioning Kyle's authority to make the decision.
"I'm deeply disappointed in the process and lack of transparency," she said. "I'm deeply troubled by this and concerned about the precedent it sets. Can events and programs be cancelled without input?"
While Kyle said he followed proper procedure, Executive Director Ty Kovach said in answer to a question by a commissioner that it was not clear in policy if the president could cancel an event or create one on his own.
Kyle said he had been to the event before with former board member and fellow African American Audrey Nixon and, "Some of the things I experienced I cannot talk about here," while referencing the sight of Confederate battle flags.
"There were a considerable number of Confederate flags and a number of other things I took into consideration," Kyle said.