by William Skink
I went downtown on Saturday to observe the Festival of Remembrance, the rebranded/repurposed festival that for over two decades had been known as the Festival of the Dead. Here’s some reporting from the Kaiman:
This event was formerly known as The Festival of the Dead until 2017, when the festival committee changed the event’s name and intentions. In the past there were objections raised to whether this festival was culturally appropriate. Some people believed a majority-white population taking part in an event inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos was insulting.
In response to this backlash, the festival’s coordinators have changed the name to The Festival of Remembrance. They have also reached out to multiple ethnic groups around the community to “embrace a higher level of inclusiveness and respect,” according to the festival’s Facebook page.
I’m not sure what attendance was like last year, but this year it was greatly diminished from previous festivals I’ve attended. I’d say attendance was less than half the usual turnout, and that’s being conservative.
Before the cultural outrage blew up in 2017, the Festival of the Dead had been going strong for 25 years. It’s sad how quickly and easily a quarter century tradition was diminished due to a few people who want to impose their sense of cultural purity on the rest of us.
I wonder if the cultural critics were in attendance during Saturday’s festival to see the impact of their cancel-culture temper tantrum. They bitched and moaned in 2017, media gave their righteous indignation a big platform, and well meaning people who invested their time and energy into putting this event on year after year were bullied and intimidated into changing the name. Is it any surprise attendance has now plummeted?
A unique event that was part of the spirit of Missoula for a quarter century is on its way out, and the “soul” in MisSOULa is a little dimmer. I hope the critics are pleased with themselves.