Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival and local NAACP reach agreement on poster
After meeting with local NAACP officials Wednesday (March 25), the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival a...
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival and local NAACP reach agreement on poster
Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival and local NAACP reach
agreement on poster
After meeting with local NAACP officials Wednesday (March 25), the Ponchatoula Strawberry
Festival announced it would not sell or display its controversial poster at the event April 10-12. The
Festival also issued an apology for the poster's artwork, although it remains the official Festival
Wednesday's meeting came after social media erupted with a debate about whether the poster,
which depicts two black children and was painted by New Orleans artist Kalle Siekkinen, is
insensitive or racist.
"We'll apologize for offending anyone, as that was never our intent," Strawberry Festival Chairman
Donald Lanier said. "We also won't sell it that weekend or display it, but we're not recalling the
poster by any means."
Siekkenen, a Hammond native, draws heavily on folk art influences and is an acknowledged protégé
of the late Bill Hemmerling, a well known Ponchatoula artist. Seikkenen was picked for the festival
poster after an open competition, but Festival officials said they did not see the poster until it was
unveiled last week.
In an interview with Doug MacCash of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, Seikkenen said it did not
occur to him people would be offended by the poster, which he saw as an homage to Hemmerling
and his Tangipahoa Parish roots.
"I was kind of surprised when I read it," Seikkenen told MacCash about his reaction to the social
I think (to) reach out to those that are hurt and apologize and explain that it's really not about race,
it's about a feeling that the paintings exude," he said of the work.
The NAACP threatened to boycott the festival if the poster were sold and if festival officials and
Seikkenen did not issue a public apology. Along with its apology, the Festival Board said it would try
to diversify its membership.
The poster is designed to raise money for the Ponchatoula Kiwanis Club. This is a great article I
found out awhile back reading another website. Only required to share this to my viewers.
Enjoy!There were reports this year's poster has been the best selling one ever and Club President
Randy Tomeny did not dispute that.
But Tomeny noted the poster is still available; Wednesday's agreement did not short-circuit it as a
"We came to a compromise where we will not display the poster on April 10, 11 or 12 and we will not
sell it at the festival," he said. "But it is still for sale. We still feel it's art and we're not backing off
Tomeny said the Kiwanis have spoken with Siekkenen but that any action there is up to the artist.
"We can't require him to make an apology," Tomeny said.