A picture of the sun setting over Circle the Wagons 2016. The festival features more than 20 musical acts, three bars, a carnival market with 30 vendors and over a dozen food trucks. (Parallel Imaging) The food, music and beer festival will be changing its name after organizers received complaints it could be seen as culturally insensitive.
Since 2013, the travelling community carnival called Circle the Wagons has been bringing food, art and performance together for one weekend in Calgary.
But the brains behind the event have decided to change the festival’s name after complaints started popping up online that it could be seen as racist.
"It had not occurred to us," Baran Faber, director of Circle the Wagons and co-owner of BassBus, told the Calgary Eyeopener . "I mean, I don’t think we would have ever named a community event knowing that it was (offensive) or could be to some people."
Faber said the complaints have ranged from blunt to educational but all carry the same message: the name is offensive to Indigenous people. "Keep the event open and inclusive"
For organizers, the name was a clever play on the fact that all three founders had stylized "wagons" — the BassBus, the Village Brewery and Fiasco Gelato food trucks.
But "circle the wagons" is the name of a defensive technique used by early settlers for protection against possible attack by Indigenous people.
Faber said the phrase is also used in the business world and means "pulling the team together." About 5,000 people are expected to attend Circle the Wagons this year. (Parallel Imaging) Regardless of what the name may or may not mean to some groups, Faber and the rest of the festival team say changing the name will keep in the spirit of the festival’s founding principles.
"As simple as it is for us, we want to keep the event open and inclusive for everyone, and if that means changing the name, that’s easy for us. We want to keep this accessible for all," Faber said.
"We think it’s the right thing to do for the community," he said. "We’ll have fun with it. We’ll create a new name and build some excitement around it, too." New name next year
This year’s festival is just over a month away. Faber said about 5,000 people are expected to attend, and with all the preparation, marketing and branding that goes into the event, changing the name won’t happen at the drop of a hat. Along with music, food and beer, Circle the Wagons features special events like the The Fast ‘n Furriest Wiener Dog Race. (Parallel Imaging) Faber said this year’s event is already in motion so the name will change next year, but the organizers are open to suggestions on what the new name will be.
Calgarians can go to Circle the Wagons’ Facebook page to pitch their idea for a new name and find out more about the festival.
Circle the Wagons takes place on Sept. 9 at Currie Park. It will feature more than 20 musical acts, three bars, a carnival market with more than 30 vendors and over a dozen food trucks.
General admission tickets are available online .
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener
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