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 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 for display 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 they would ban any Confederate flag merchandise from being sold by official vendors.
Olivia Trimble, founder of Repaint Hate, said thoughts of the recent violence in Charlottesville were fresh in her mind when she came up with the idea for the campaign.
“I had friends who are 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 distribute signs and t-shirts, and engage with visitors to the event.
The group will operate the booth during the rally on Friday, Sept. 22 from 1–4 p.m., and on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Several local graphic artists and painters have also created large panels with similar messages to 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,” Trimble said. “We can’t force anyone to stop wearing hateful symbols, but we can at least take a stand in this small way.”