Something Stinks at Pig in the Park

As many of you are aware over the past two years I've been working to set up my business, Sosanna’s Closet.  Basically it’s where I sell clay sculptures, jewelry and more recently I've started carrying cloaks and dresses.  I've attended several Pagan-centric events, such as Pagan Pride Days Raleigh and several seasonal events at Truely Unique in Wilson with huge success.

Recently my hubby and I decided that we’d start branching out into other more mainstream festivals to get my art out there in the market.  One such even is called “Pig in the Park”.  (facebook page) Now I know what you’re thinking, Sosanna, this is a BBQ event, you’re a vegetarian, why would you go there? 
Well I’m trying to set outside my comfort zone.  I wanted to start making Pagans more visible in my community.  I wanted them to see that we’re just like everyone else.   

So I sent in my request to go to the event.  I was very excited.  I got the following reply from the Director of Tourism for the City of Goldsboro:

                                   What items do you offer for sale?

No greeting …

I replied:
 Hi (first name removed to protect her identity)
I sell handmade clay sculptures and wreaths as well as new age/metaphysical supplies.  Here is a link to my esty shop with some of the items I sell.  Saturday I will be at the Yule Bazaar in Wilson.
Today I got an email from the Development Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne County that said the following:

I received a forward of your email to our tourism director. 

Just wanted to let you know that I do not think that you would be a good fit for our PIG IN THE PARK festival because of our venue and theme.  Last year, we had some new, unique vendors to the event and they were disappointed in their sales.  I’m afraid that you would be, too.

Have a good day,
Signature removed to protect identity

No greeting.  Had no one taught these people how to write a business email? 

No reference to why my shop isn't a good fit, just a statement that pretty much says one thing, YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE.

Now, being the type of person I am, Ms. Director had her signature on the email so I called her.  I asked her, “Why am I not a good fit for your festival.”  Keep in mind I’m looking at the page and seeing the list of Christian groups lined up to sing, and the reference that any “offensive” material is not permitted.

She stutters about and then says, “Well its pocket books, and people don’t do well that don’t sell pocketbooks and jewelry.”

 I said, “I sell jewelry.  I sell custom clay statues and figurines. “

 She said, well you know, regular stuff, jewelry and pocketbooks’.

 I said, “You mean Christian stuff.” 

She got all defensive and said, “now I didn't say that, you said that and I’m offended that you said that. I’m just trying to save you some money”

 I said, “I bet you are.”

She said “we’re non-denominational and we accept all colors and everything, if you want waste your money that’s fine, but people usually don’t make anything unless they sell pocketbooks or BBQ sauce.”
Someone came to my door and knocked and the dogs were barking like crazy, so I just said I’ll be writing a letter because I feel you've discriminated against me and hung up the phone.


I contacted the Travel and Tourism Dept of Wayne County which apparently only has one person working it and I only got a voice mail every time.  I also checked one the City of Goldsboro Page and didn't find anything to help me either.  (Facebook Page)

So I guess instead of investing money in my own city, I’ll need to continue to go to other more open minded festivals where I won’t be judged because of which gods or goddesses I follow.  I’ll have to continue to reach out to more open minded counties that welcome anyone to join their events and help stimulate their economy instead of doing that here in Goldsboro.

Thank you, Ms. Director thank you for reminding me ever so strongly why I spent so many years in the broom closet.

I would have posted the entire email here but I’m not really sure of the legality of publishing their email addresses on my blog, so I decided to leave that bit off.  I do want to say, that on the Pig in the Park vendor page it lists arts and crafts as being accepted and it doesn't say a damn thing about pocketbooks.

Namaste & Blessed Be!


petoskystone said...

The refusal to admit that the word 'non-denominational' is code for 'Christian only' isn't surprising, but certainly annoying. That does not excuse such poor business manners, however.

Moma Fauna said...

this is such a shame.

last night i helped some Wiccan friends draft a response letter to the director of a church camp from whom they are renting a venue for Imbolc. it is a pretty little lakeside campground which describes itself as open to all faiths, non-denominational, etc. so it came as a great surprise to the HP/HPS when they received a letter this weekend inquiring about Imbolc -- what exactly it is & if this event might run counter to the church ideologically...

wait! this was an organization which wooed said Wiccan group, knowing that they were publicly Wiccan. they wanted renters, said they were open minded, but now we see they have cold feet. shame, shame, contracts have been signed, insurance & rental paid. we don't expect them to pull the rug out from under Imbolc, especially this late in the game, BUT... what does this mean now for the energy of this event? will spirits be dampened by awkward feelings of un-wantedness?

on the one hand, you can feel relieved that you won't have to attend the piggy party & feel hostility. on the other hand, i find your story more disturbing because while my friends' group is negotiating with a private entity, you were cast aside by a *public* entity, paid for my tax dollars & that is most shameful.

best of luck to you & baby steps, for all of us.

Salem Witch Child said...

That is a shame, but perhaps it is for the best you learn of their bigotry now.

Jennifer said...

Press on!! I am in Fayetteville and had to drive to Charlotte to find like minded folks - or so I thought. There is a Pagan community in NC, it may take time for them to hear you are there and then come out - but we are here.

Gemmi Fuchsbau said...

I applaud you for calling and discussing this with the person in tourism. Although you won't be breaking into the barbecue circuit at this festival you have paved the way for the next caller, and the next.
You accomplished you mission of making the presence of Pagans visible in a small way. Bravo for your bravery and success in that!

Anonymous said...

I think you are brave and wonderful for calling her out on what she did! I do feel so awful that she clearly was discriminating against you....pocketbooks and bbq sauce indeed! Unfortunately, there are many people like her around the world. The good news is that there are awesome people like YOU to set an example of what is good and courageous in standing up to the negative attitudes. Way to go!