Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, a Civil War-themed attraction with locations in Tennessee and Missouri, is changing its name. For the 2018 season, the show will be known simply as Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the change is partly a strategic move to mitigate any concerns about the shows and possibly allow for future expansion. Parton’s themed attractions are located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Branson, Missouri; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Branson and Pigeon Forge locations feature the Civil War battle, while Myrtle Beach offers a pirate-themed experience.
“We also recognize that attitudes change and feel that by streamlining the names of our shows, it will remove any confusion or concerns about our shows and will help our efforts to expand into new cities,” said Parton in a release from World Choice Investments, LLC, the group that oversees the Stampede.
Additionally, the show at the Stampede – a dinner theater-style reenactment of the Civil War where visitors choose to side with the North or the South, and the South occasionally wins – will see some updates to its content. Dollywood spokesperson Pete Owens told the Sentinel that the show makes changes every year and will have some “new additions,” though he did not provide further details.
The Stampede has been a topic of debate in recent months, as one Slate review pointed out the show’s careful omission of slavery from its narrative of regional struggle.
“Dolly’s Dixie Stampede has been a success not just because people love Dolly Parton, but because the South has always been afforded the chance to rewrite its own history – not just through its own efforts, but through the rest of the country turning a blind eye. Even though the South is built upon the foundation of slavery, a campy show produced by a well-meaning country superstar can make-believe it’s not,” wrote Aisha Harris for Slate. Later, Dollywood’s Pete Owens responded to the review and promised to “evaluate the information” in hopes of improving the guest experience.
Harris took in the spectacle the same week that violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a Confederate statue from public land, leaving one woman dead. Numerous cities, including Memphis and New Orleans, have followed suit in removing their own statues, often to the accompaniment of heated protests. In Nashville, a statue of Ku Klux Klan founder and Confederate Army general Nathan Bedford Forrest that sits on private land was recently doused in pink paint.
Country performers for the most part have remained silent about events like Charlottesville, with a few notable mainstream exceptions like Brothers Osborne and Maren Morris, and popular indie entertainers like Margo Price. For her part, Dolly Parton’s near-universal appeal hasn’t taken too much of a hit, and shows will resume at the Stampede beginning January 19th.