Strawberry Festival will not sell poster during event; offers apology
PONCHATOULA - Following a meeting between Strawberry Festival leaders, Kiwanis Club members and NAACP members Wednesday, the festival issued a public apology for a controversial poster that caused a social media uproar among some that found the artwork offensive.
Several agreements were announced at a press conference following the meeting and apology, including statements that the board of the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival will make a concerted effort to establish more diverse membership in the future and that the poster will not be displayed or sold during the three days of the festival. It will still be sold outside the festival's dates in order to raise money for the Ponchatoula Kiwanis Club.
"Ponchatoula is a growing community and we want to see that continue," the parish NAACP president, Pat Morris, said after the group met with city and festival organizers Wednesday.
"The Strawberry Board didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings, get anybody insulted whatsoever. Neither did Kiwanis or the city, and we're going to stand behind each other on this and we apologize if we hurt feelings," the festival chairman, Donald Lanier, said.
The poster, by artist Kallé Siekkinen, featured a depiction of two black figures that commenters decried as a racist depiction, offensive to African Americans. The NAACP has asked for an apology from the artist, who made comments stating that black people should be honored to be the subject of his work.
In the wake of the meeting, the NAACP said they will call for a boycott of the festival if the terms of the agreement are not followed. The organization says every request they have made has been filled, except the apology from Siekkinen.