Winston–Salem City Council Votes To Change Dixie Classic Fair Name

Winston–Salem City Council Votes To Change Dixie Classic Fair Name

12:25am Aug 20, 2019
Community members packed into the council chambers at City Hall before the vote. KERI BROWN/WFDD

There will be no more “Dixie” in the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem. City Council passed a measure on a 5-2 vote Monday night to change the name of the annual event.

It was an overflow crowd at the city council chambers before the vote. The months-long debate has been controversial. Critics at the council meeting say the name Dixie is a reminder of slavery and segregation. Albert Nickerson from Winston-Salem says the change is long overdue.

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The fairgrounds at the Dixie Classic Fair. KERI BROWN/WFDD

“I think it’s time to get rid of the name because it conjures up too many negative images for me and is offensive to many African Americans in the community.”

But supporters say it’s part of Southern heritage and criticize the city’s handling of the name change, including a survey where a majority of the respondents said they wanted to keep the name.  

“It’s a tradition and should stay the way it is. It makes me wonder what’s next,” says Laura Carr.

Richard Miller was born and raised in the city. “Just leave it alone. Look up where the name really came from. Keep the politics and political correctness out of this,” he says. “It’s a hot potato that they’ve created by letting a few people tell them that it’s a hot potato."

Assistant City Manager Ben Rowe says staff will now develop a process to find a new name.

“Right now, nothing has been determined, so as far as when the fair name would be effective or to what extent there will be additional public input — all that is to be determined at this point.”

Some new names have been suggested including The Carolina Classic and Twin City Festival. Rowe says the list will be considered during the search.

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Winston-Salem City Council meeting. KERI BROWN/WFDD

“The name should be something representative of the people, representative of collaboration and inclusion, not exclusion,” says Brenda Fulmore, a local resident who supports removing Dixie from the fair’s name. “Winston-Salem is a city of innovation, and I hope once the name is changed, people will come together to support the new name, support the fair.”

The Dixie Classic Fair is the second largest agricultural Fair in North Carolina, with attendance averaging 325,000 visitors each year. City Council will have the final say on what name is selected. Dixie has been part of the event's name since 1956.

*You can follow WFDD’s Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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