‘I just want peace and harmony, and if we can just move on from this and have an outstanding fair, the city will be pleased…’
(Ben Sellers) The historic city of Winston–Salem, North Carolina, is set to prove it’s not just whistlin’ ‘Dixie’ when it comes to the controversial name-change of a beloved fall festival.
Facing pressure from local activists, it announced last year that it planned to rename the Dixie Classic Fair starting next year (with this year’s already having taken place).
On Monday, the city council officially moved to redub it the Carolina Classic, reported the Winston–Salem Journal.
The council already had formally voted in August to jettison the old name, meaning much of the debate centered around a new controversy: whether to go with the broader “Carolina” or the more regional “Piedmont” in the new name.
“The most neutral term, and the most descriptive one of the dirt I walk on every day, is the Piedmont,”council member John Larson said at the meeting Monday.
Over the objections of detractors—including one who said the city had “named the fair for Wendy’s hamburger”—the council voted 6-2 in favor of “Carolina.”
The state’s Sons of Confederate Veterans group released a statement criticizing the name change as a solution in search of a problem.
“This is just another manufactured controversy, created in the minds of a few politicians that are willing to waste nearly 100 thousand dollars to appease their ego, while insulting Southerners,” said the group.
But overall, the impassioned discussion and widespread interest in the fair’s name seemed largely to have tapered off, reported the Journal, with both options sufficiently innocuous and bland to appease social-justice warriors—for now.
“Either name would be all right as far as I’m concerned,” said council member Vivian Burke. “I just want peace and harmony, and if we can just move on from this and have an outstanding fair, the city will be pleased.”
The annual fall event, now in its 138th year, had included the “Dixie” part of its name since 1956, when it was changed from the Forsyth County Fair to reflect a broader regional interest. It began in the 1880s as the Wheat and Cattle Fair. The fair was for whites only until 1963.
In recent years, however, North Carolina has become a hotbed of protest and demands for historical revisionism in dealing with the state’s legacy on race and the Civil War. Several Confederate monuments have been targeted in cities like Chapel Hill and Durham.
In its northern neighbor, Virginia, the 2017 clash over Charlottesville‘s illegal efforts to remove monuments honoring Southern generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson turned deadly at a rally where neo-Nazis were confronted by Antifa counter-protestors brandishing projectiles, improvised blowtorches and other weapons.
A 21-year-old Ohio native, James Fields, who was reportedly a Nazi sympathizer, was found guilty of first-degree murder for driving his car into a crowd of activists who had blocked his path on the city’s Downtown Mall. Local protestor Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in the assault.
President Donald Trump, while broadly condemning the violence, sought unity and reconciliation by noting that there were “very fine people on both sides,” but his critics on the Left attacked the statement as racist.