With vendors setting up on Dickson Street, and “Welcome bikers” banners adorning bars and restaurants all over town, all signs are pointing to it being Bikes, Blues & BBQ week in Fayetteville.
This year, however, some local artists and graphic designers are hoping to welcome the motorcycle enthusiasts to town with a little bit different type of sign.
The local chapter of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) and Repaint Hate, a grassroots movement that works to combat hateful graffiti in Fayetteville, have partnered to make yard signs and t-shirts to display at this year’s rally that convey an inclusive message to the mass of visitors that will take over the city this week.
Signs with messages like “Y’all means all,” “Hate is not in our anatomy,” and “In this town, we choose love” have been printed, and are being distributed to be displayed around Fayetteville as the rally gets underway.
The bike rally has come under fire in recent years for merchandise sold during the event bearing the confederate flag. In an effort to help curb some of that controversy, rally officials said this year,they would ban that merchandise from being sold by official vendors during the rally.
Olivia Trimble, founder of Repaint Hate, said thoughts of the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia were fresh in her mind when she came up with the idea for the campaign.
“I had friends kind of worrying about hate speech coming into town with the visitors,” she said. “It went from an idea to something that I felt like we needed to make happen when I also heard from friends in the LGBTQIA community, and women of color who said they felt uncomfortable with some of the symbols they see at the rally, and were worried about going to the gym on Dickson Street.”
“We decided to do a positive campaign, with the hopes to convey the standards our city has for valuing diversity and inclusion,” she said.
Trimble said Repaint Hate and AIGA NWA will have a booth at the rally near Arsaga’s at the Depot, where they will be distributing signs and t-shirts, and engaging with visitors to the event.
The group will man the booth during the rally on Friday, September 22 from 1–4 p.m., and on Saturday, September 23 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Several local graphic artists and painters are also creating large panels with similar messages, and they’ll be displayed at Farmers’ Table Cafe, Local Color Gallery, Arsaga’s at the Depot, and other prominent locations around the city.
The smaller signs, created by members of the AIGA and printed locally by Spark Design, are also available to pick up at The Handmade Market.
“We just felt like we wanted to do something to welcome these visitors to our city with some direct signage that tells them who we are,” she said. “We can’t force anyone to stop wearing hateful symbols, but we can at least take a stand in this small way.”