Dolly Parton’s “Dixie Stampede” family dinner show has been officially renamed “Dolly Parton’s Stampede,” a decision made less than five months after a Slate writer criticized the attraction as racist.
The country music legend said the rebranding is a reflection of changing attitudes around the country and was done in an effort to expand out of the south.
Parton said in a statement:
Our shows currently are identified by where they are located. Some examples are Smoky Mountain Adventures or Dixie Stampede. We also recognize that attitudes change and feel that by streamlining the names of our shows, it will remove any confusion or concerns about our shows and will help our efforts to expand into new cities.
Currently, the dinner shows are based in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri. If the company wants to expand, they figured it was best to remove any references to the confederacy. Part owner World Choice Investments CEO Jim Rule added:
“There is interest in several parts of the United States and internationally to host one of our unique dinner attraction shows. We provide spectacular family entertainment at a great value. We continually listen to our guests and our desire to expand coupled with our desire to stay relevant in today’s changing world led us to simplify our shows’ names."
To Konx County Tennessee Mayor Tim Burchett, that sounded more like caving to political correctness:
"Well, like everybody else, I love Dolly, and I love all that she's done for our community, which is her community, and I'm disappointed that they're yielding to political correctness. What's next? Are we going to change the name of Dixie cups and the Dixie sugar company?"
Pete Owens, public relations director for World Choice Investments, said, “The show itself was never about the Civil War. It was really about that good nature competition and the idea of trying to involve the audience… It clearly showed that there was a misconception as to what our show was about.”
As someone who has been to the show with his family, here’s what you won’t find: Confederate flags, any mention of slavery, or salutes to southern generals (unless you count the piglet named Robert E. Lee, but of course there's a Grant and a Lincoln, too). It’s very obvious that the producers are aware of the sensitive nature of these things and have gone out of their way to avoid potential offenses. The only flag you will see, besides team flags, is the American flag in abundance. It’s not really a pro-North, or a pro-South show at all. It’s pro-America. And anyway, the deciding factor on which side eventually wins is based on which piglet is the first to run around a track and cross the finish line. Kind of hard to peg a pig as racist.
Nonetheless, all references to “Dixie” have been removed. The Dixie Belle Saloon is just “Saloon” now and the Dixie Belles, who take pictures with guests and star in the show, are just the “Belles.” That ought to erase America's racist history very few people think this show is honoring.
A quick glance at the comments section at Pigeon Forge TN Guide shows patrons are quite upset and plan to boycott the attraction they regularly visit en masse. This single comment sums up the attitude:
"I guess the logic that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few does not compute when snowflakes and PC become involved... I’ll just have to take my money elsewhere every year."