The San Diego County Fair has been pressured to ditch its planned slogan for 2017 and come up with something new.
It was deemed offensive to Native Americans.
The original promotional signs depicted a cowboy on horseback with the slogan “How the West Was Fun” emblazoned beneath.
But last week, Angela Elliott Santos, a tribal chairwoman of the Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in California, penned a letter to local and state government officials (including Governor Jerry Brown) which called the original logo “extremely offensive in light of the history and experience of genocide during the so-called 'settling' of the West.”
According to the Santa Fe Review, spokespeople from other regional tribes also told fair’s board that the original logo “may have given the suggestion that the winning of the American West from Native Americans had been 'fun.'”
The letters made an impression on Fred Schenk, a member of the board which organizes the fair every year, and by Tuesday morning, board members and the Native American groups who brought up the complaints had decided on a new slogan, Schenk telling the SF Review:
“When I read that (letter), my reaction was, I want to make sure we don’t disappoint any group that we respect and want to have come to the fair. I want to work with anyone who feels that we didn’t give adequate thought to the slogan.”
And so, the slogan went from “How the West Was Fun” to “Where the West Is Fun”— a subtle enough change that manages to dodge historical implications.
Naturally, however, there was some pushback from members of the public who felt the “PC police” were being bullies once again — and many of them took to social media to sound off:
It's not entirely clear whether the original slogan was itself new or whether it had any sort of history behind it, which would account even more for the ire raised by the change — and though the change no doubt has its defenders, they're not making a fuss on social media.
Regardless, Tribal Chairwoman Santos summed up what she felt the real issue was in one sentence from her letter to the organizers:
“There was insufficient public review and participation in this decision.”
Schenk, for his part, simply wants everyone to feel welcome at the fair:
“We'll work it out to make sure whatever slogan we have is one that will reflect well on the entire community in San Diego, all communities in San Diego. That's our goal and that's what we will achieve. We want to make sure they feel welcome during the fair and we'll work with them to make sure they feel that way.”
The San Diego County Fair began in 1880 as an agricultural fair and continues to be a major draw each summer for tourists and area residents alike, featuring bands, rides, Old West-themed entertainment and history.