Heated hearing over Dixie Classic Fair name change

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A public hearing concerning a potential name change for the Dixie Classic Fair brought hundreds to the fairgrounds.

At least 200 people gathered at the Education Building Tuesday evening. The Fair Planning Committee says 60 people signed up to speak.

Opponents said the word Dixie is hateful and rooted in racism. While supporters argued the word is a generic term for the south and part of their heritage.

The city has had survey options in place since late April, with people able to give their thoughts online or over the phone. The survey doesn't ask people whether to change the name, but what the new name should be.

Kathleen Garber, who chairs the Fair Planning Committee, says some 8,000 people have taken part in the survey. As of Tuesday, 40 percent of those respondents were from Winston-Salem.

The Fair Planning Committee plans to develop a recommendation at their June 10 meeting. Then it will move to the Public Assembly Facilities Commission and from there it will go Winston-Salem City Council for a vote in August.

The city is still crunching numbers, but Garber says they estimate it will cost half a million to a million dollars to rebrand the Dixie Classic Fair.

If city council does vote on a new name, the change would take effect in 2020.

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