FAITH, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Several sponsors of Faith’s July 4th Celebration have pulled their support due to Confederate imagery associated with the parade.

Duke Energy, Sheetz, and Novant Health, the celebration’s largest sponsor, all say they no longer plan to contribute to the festival.

The event is one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in the state. The town of just 1,000 residents welcomes tens of thousands of people for a multi-day festival that includes a parade, concerts, rides, vendors, and food.

“The Faith Fourth is probably one of the biggest hometown celebrations that you can have, especially in Faith,” said Faith resident Chloe Pate.

In a statement to Queen City News, a representative from Novant Health said:

“Novant Health has decided to discontinue our sponsorship of several events in the area which do not align with our values of diversity, inclusion and equity. We are using this opportunity to strengthen our sponsorship evaluation process and we’ve invited the organizers of the events in question to engage with us in conversation about how we may work together in the future to foster safe, inclusive environments for the entire community. We remain committed to supporting and investing in Rowan County with activities that that more closely align with our values and celebrate the diversity of our communities.”

Duke Energy shared a similar sentiment, saying:

“As part of our commitment to power the lives of our customers and the vitality of our communities, Duke Energy has a long history of investing in the communities we serve. We will not sponsor the parade moving forward, and we will look for other opportunities to continue supporting Rowan County organizations in ways that reflect our company values and the diversity of those we serve.”

A representative from Food Lion, another sponsor, said they plan to meet with parade organizers and other sponsors to determine their future involvement.

“I totally understand it and I don’t blame them a bit,” said Jenny Blume, who works in Faith. “The Confederate flag represents something from our past that is not very pretty.”

But many Faith residents believe the Confederacy represents the southern heritage that makes the town what it is.

“Color has nothing to do with it. It’s all in where you were born, how you were born, and how you were raised,” said Michael Beaver. “They’re going to lose a lot of people if they pull out. That’s what this community is based on.”

Others, like Kasey Wood, believe the Confederacy is ancient history and it’s time for the town to become more welcoming to a more diverse crowd.

“You used to not see certain kinds of people out here, and you do now, which means it’s changing. So that means you’re going to have to kind of change that Confederate thing,” said Wood.

Queen City News reached out to Faith Fourth organizers about whether they plan to remove the Confederate imagery from the parade. They did not respond.