Homophobia alleged at Northern California chili cook-off 

Homophobia alleged at Northern California chili cook-off 

A local company has alleged a fellow business owner at the chili cook-off at the Humboldt County Fair barraged their employees with a stream of derogatory remarks about gay people and ran into their items with a vehicle later in the day.

The comments, which allegedly started right from the onset of the event and progressively got worse throughout the rest of the day, included ”Oh, that’s so gay. You should be over there. With the F-ggy bottoms boys,” said Thomas Nicholson Stratton, co-owner of Foggy Bottoms Boys, noting the comments were loud enough for others to hear.

Stratton noted that the comments were not directed at a particular employee or one of the Cal Poly Humboldt interns working at the cookoff but against the business in general. The Foggy Bottoms Boys is a farm owned by Thomas and his husband Cody Nicholson Stratton.

“As I was going to get our vehicle to pack up our items, we had that person that was doing hateful comments run over some of our ingredients and then back over them again,” Nicholson Stratton said. He said a piece of new equipment was bent and boxes of food were damaged. “Our employees were literally a foot away sitting on coolers and chairs,” he added.

Nicholson Stratton also noted that other participants of the team were trying to hold the individual back throughout the event, with the comments coming from a single person.

The Foggy Bottoms Boys did not identify the culprit of the anti-gay remarks in their post that detailed the event, or during an interview with the Times-Standard. However, the LoCo Fish Company account apologized in an Instagram comment on the Foggy Bottoms Boys post about the incident.

“I’m extremely sorry for our actions,” the comment from LoCo Fish Co. said. “We are NOT anti-LGBTQ in any shape or form.” Phone calls to the business and a Facebook message were not returned by the Times-Standard’s print deadline.

The LoCo Fish Co. chili station was located next to the Foggy Bottoms Boy’s during the event Thursday. It was staffed by the co-owner, Jayme Knight along with others. The booking sheet of the Humboldt County Correctional Facility shows that Knight was arrested by the Ferndale Police Department at 6:20 for driving under the influence. He was released around 11 p.m. later in the evening, according to Humboldt County Correctional Facility release sheet. Information from the courts system indicate Knight pleaded guilty to a DUI in 2019.

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Photos: Silicon Valley Pride Parade

Nicholson Stratton noted that the Humboldt County Fair was extremely helpful in getting the damaged items paid for, and that police got involved and handled the situation. He also noted that it was obvious that there was some level of intoxication going on with the individual or something that was wrong. The Ferndale Police Department did not respond to a voicemail by the Times-Standard’s print deadline.

Comments on the posts and a Reddit thread largely called for a boycott of the fish truck. A number of local businesses commented in support of the Foggy Bottoms Boys.

The chili event was held Thursday, hosted by Guy Fieri, and started around 11 a.m.. A number of local businesses and organizations participated in the cookoff.

Sage Alexander can be reached at 707-441-0504