Jaycees change Cole County Fair theme after community outcry
COLUMBIA - A fair full of tradition and fun for the Jefferson City area abandoned its theme with less than three weeks until opening day.
The Jefferson City Jaycees Board of Directors announced the removal of the theme, "Making It Great Again," on Monday.
The board made the change after community members voiced concerns that the theme was too similar to Donald Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again."
Vander Hughes, a local Jefferson City business owner, reached out to the board last month, asking members to take action.
He said when he first saw the theme for the fair on Facebook he immediately thought of politics.
"When I first read that slogan, I was immediately offended and I immediately lost all interest of the fair and I felt like I needed to say something about it," Hughes said.
Shanna Heard, Cole County Jaycees Chapter President, said the intent of the theme was to make the fair great again due to other community members feeling the fair had gone downhill slightly.
"We weren't thinking about the big picture or the political hot button the theme would cause," she said.
Hughes said the fair is a highly-anticipated event every year for Jefferson City and the slogan spoiled it all.
Hughes initially contacted the fair committee through the social justice group, Keeping Up With The Jeffersons, which he is an active member of.
"We called them, messaged them, emailed and no response at all. With that being said, it caught the attention of the media and because of that we are where we are now today," he said.
Hughes said he found out about the change through the newspapers, just like everybody else.
He said many community members reached out to him and said they approved of his protest.
"The people is what forced them to denounce it," Hughes said.
He said he appreciates the board of director's actions to remove the theme and it shows they are listening to the community.
Hughes said as a taxpayer, citizen and business owner it is his responsibility to speak out when something is not right.
"This is way bigger than Jeff City," he said.
According to Heard, this year's fair will not have a theme and will be the "68th Annual Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair."
She said the fair is all about the community coming out and having a great time.
"We never meant for it be a divisive theme at all," Heard said.
The fair is scheduled to run July 30 through August 4.