Community Invited to Re-Name "Festival in the Park"

The Parade at Festival in the Park, 2013

Clarion Chamber & Development is accepting suggestions and input for what to re-name Clarion’s summer festival for 2015, the 150th anniversary of the city’s founding. More information is in Chamber board member Teresa Lancaster’s letter in this issue.

Entries and input may be mailed to the Chamber at Clarion’s P.O. Box 6 or submitted online.

Chamber members described the name change as part of an overall plan to expand, revitalize, and move the festival beyond Gazebo Park, hoping to attract more locals and out-of-towners to participate in a full weekend of activities.

“At a community vitality standpoint, we want to see the town festival be more inclusive of the different aspects of our community, and reach out to multiple generations,” said Kim Heller, Chamber Director. “And that comes from people saying over and over again – ‘I come from the parade, I get something to eat, and I go home again’.”

Discussion on the name change erupted publically on March 23 on the Facebook group “You Know You’re From Clarion, Iowa If…”, and has thus far attracted over 200 comments – many lengthy and/or highly impassioned, from multiple viewpoints –  prompted by a now-abandoned suggestion that the festival’s name would change to “Black Dirt Days” for 2014.

Objections included those specifically against the name “Black Dirt Days,” which some found unappealing. Alan Arthur suggested it recalled “snirt,” a derogatory term for snow turned dark by eroded topsoil. Several people noted that Conrad, Iowa’s summer festival already uses the name.  Others expressed satisfaction with the festival’s present name, while some objected to a perceived closed-door nature of the change’s proposed implementation.

““If we bring more people to town, it's a total success,” wrote Che Hanson in support of the proposed new name. “Black dirt is what powers Clarion. Without black dirt a lot of business would never be successful in Clarion. Our economy is fueled by black dirt. Our leaders see the need for change.”

“The name change represents a new fresh idea of what this event can become again,” wrote Pamela Bunn-Kruger.

It was apparent that all involved care about this town, as demonstrated by a comment by one of the most passionate opponents of the name change, John Young of Mesa, Arizona, whose father was Clarion community booster Dr. Richard Young: “[The Festival] is the celebration of a close-knit small town, middle of nowhere place that has a ton of local pride and wrightfully so.”

Join the conversation and read more in the Monitor’s April 3 issue!