Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Farewell, Dixie Classic Fair

So, we went to the Dixie Classic Fair for the last time on Saturday. Next year the Fair will have a different name. Now we know that the word “Dixie” is offensive. So much for Dixie Cups and Dixie Chicks.

The term Dixie actually comes from New Orleans, where French culture influenced the local slang. In French the word for ten is dix. The ten dollar bills that circulated were known as “dixes.” Over time people associated dixes with the Louisiana region and eventually all of the South was known as “Dixie.”

I have rejected the effort to change the Fair’s name because it attributes a racist, hateful quality to a word that has no such meaning. Or does it?

Thanks to an article in the Greensboro News & Record, I learned that there is more to it. The Fair began in 1882 as a grain exposition. A few years later they included tobacco in the exposition. From there the Fair grew. But in 1956 they changed the name from the Winston-Salem Fair to the Dixie Classic Fair. It was a whites-only event. The (Colored) Carolina Fair was the black version in the 1950s. Until 1963, the DC Fair remained for whites only. Hmm, does that look racist?

The article quoted a Winston-Salem resident who remembers being excluded from the DC Fair as a child. She surely sees the name of the Fair differently than I do.

I wish they would not change the name of the Fair. I have decades of Fair memories, especially with my children. The Fair represents happy, carefree times—times of cotton candy, funnel cakes, Ferris
wheel rides, petting sheep, feeding goats, seeing huge pumpkins, and admiring creative crafts. My associations with Dixie Classic Fair are all positive.

That’s not the case for everyone.

Would I be willing to accept a name change, even though I don’t like it? Maybe that is especially appropriate. African Americans for centuries have had things forced on them. Things that were not right, not fair, not reasonable. An event name change is a small annoyance for me. Maybe, just maybe, I might have some slight idea of the injustice our neighbors have endured for generations. Maybe this name change will help me see that many people look differently at the DC Fair. Events that bring me happy memories can bring painful memories to others. Maybe they should just get over it.

Maybe with the name change I should just get over it.

I wish they would not change the name of the Fair.

Even more, I wish that the Fair had never excluded anyone.