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Local Leaders Vote To Keep Dixie Center Name, For Now, After Receiving Backlash

Photo of a building that says "Dixie Center at St. George"
David Fuchs
The Dixie Convention Center in Washington County.

Washington County leaders decided Monday to hold off on renaming the Dixie Convention Center after voting last week to change its name to Greater Zion. 

County and city leaders unanimously voted to keep the name as Dixie for the next six months, as convention staff look into ways of incorporating the region’s nickname and its history. That’s if the board ultimately decides to change the name in the future. 

“We don’t want to shy away from the term ‘Dixie,’” Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson said during Monday’s meeting.

The vote to change it to Greater Zion on June 23 led to a flood of social media posts and an online petition that gathered over 17,000 signatures in favor of keeping Dixie as the name. A couple dozen county residents showed up to Monday’s meeting to defend Dixie and the region's ties to it. 

The rebranding to Greater Zion was part of a larger, long-term tourism marketing plan in the region.

Southern Utah’s nickname Dixie has been a point of conflict over the years because of the name’s ties to the Confederacy. But many county residents were against the renaming because they say it erases the region’s history of growing cotton. 

“Those of us who know and love this place know there’s not even a shred of racism behind that nickname,” county resident Jimi Kestin said.

Kestin said the board had poor timing in its initial rebranding decision given the nationwide protests centered on racial injustice and police brutality.

“The timing under which this change was voted on is more problematic because of the larger issues going on around the country,” he said. 

Correction 11:20 a.m. MDT 6/30/2020: This story has been clarified to reflect the decision the board made at its meeting Monday to hold off on renaming the Dixie Center.

Lexi Peery is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George. Follow Lexi on Twitter @LexiFP

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Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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