Ocoee’s annual music event will be held in November, but it will have a new name: Ocoee Fall Music Festival.
“In the efforts to unite everyone and put negative connotations of Ocoee Founders' Day behind us, we have rebranded the festival,” Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson wrote on his Facebook page. “On behalf of the festival committee, we apologize if we offended anyone.”
The city of Ocoee has held the festival — which features several days of big-name musical guests, carnival rides and games, and food and merchandise vendors — for more than 25 years.
“When the Ocoee Founders' Day Festival was started back in the ’90s, it was simply a time to come together and celebrate our city, which officially became Ocoee in May of 1925,” Johnson wrote. “We changed the season of the event to better accommodate for the weather.”
This year’s festival date coincided with the city’s proposed remembrance event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Ocoee election massacre, which took place in November 1920. Some residents argued that the name of the music event clashed with the memory of the residents who died in the tragedy.
“As a resident of Ocoee for over half a century, never has Founders' Day been thought about in the context of the tragic events that occurred in Ocoee in 1920,” Johnson wrote. “We have since then acknowledged the divide and created a proclamation of remembrance and honoring those lives lost during the dark time in history for Ocoee.”
Johnson said Ocoee is one of the first communities in the state to form a diversity board because the city is made up of all races, religious beliefs and colors.
“If you want to see more change in our community, I invite you to be involved and join the board,” Johnson said.
“Thank you for expressing your concerns and making your voices heard so that we can be an inclusive and considerate community that is continually growing and caring for all of our citizens,” Johnson wrote.