City of Oakdale residents have long felt recognition and pride with the city’s motto of “Cowboy Capital of the World” but when the Oakdale Travel and Visitors Bureau introduced a marketing slogan of “Pioneer Perfect,” many residents expressed outrage, calling for the city and OTVB not to meddle with something already in place.
In the end, after the city came forward stating it wasn’t considering changing its slogan, the OTVB recanted, stating it would forego the launch of “Pioneer Perfect” and would embrace the traditional community slogan “Cowboy Capital of the World.”
Social media sites and Leader email boxes were lit up with comments after The Leader published an article in the March 11 edition regarding a presentation by OTVB Chairman Keith Boggs from the March 2 Oakdale City Council meeting.
“Tell me this is a joke,” said longtime Oakdale resident Saundra Sward. “It makes Oakdale sound like some backwoods town stuck in the past. Rebrand for the future, not the past. That doesn’t mean lose the charm.”
“I like Cowboy Capital,” Sherri Staal-Douty said downtown on Thursday, March 12. “I’ve been here for 40 years and I’m proud of it. Our rodeo is known worldwide and farmers built this town. I’m pretty sure pioneers have nothing to do with Oakdale.”
On Thursday the topic was being discussed by a gathering at the H-B Saloon. No one appeared to be in support of the proposed motto.
“They’re full of … well, let me just say there’s never been any notable pioneers here,” said Frank Clark, cutting his initial statement off. “There’s a helluva lot more cowboys out here than any pioneers.”
Clark expanded that the name “Cowboy Capital of the World” is widely recognized as associated with Oakdale.
“I was shocked when I read the article,” said Lana Casey of Spur of the Moment on F Street, and sponsor of the Cowboy Capital of the World Golf Tournament. “Oakdale already has a brand and that is Cowboy Capital of the World. Maybe those who want to change it should read up on the history.”
H-B owner Mike Bacigalupi said he felt the proponents of “Pioneer Perfect” weren’t fellow business owners who saw the cowboys in the town.
“The list is long of the cowboys that rodeo’d and stayed here for day work the rest of the year and called Oakdale home,” said Susan Bacigalupi. “There are still real cowboys here, even some who probably never competed in rodeo. Why mess with a good thing?”
Cowboy Theme More Than Just Two Days
During Boggs’ presentation he stated that he too didn’t want to lose the Cowboy Capital of the World slogan and it would be used on brochures, but that the Pioneer Perfect effort was to use something that would spread over the course of a year so that an “umbrella message” could be delivered. He said that the cowboy association, especially with the rodeo since it was just a “two-day event,” wasn’t a brand that resonated over the course of 365 days a year.
Many others countered that belief.
“What’s that BS about the rodeo is only two days?” stated Kari McLean on Facebook. “First it’s a weeklong event; second, there’s the Testicle Festival and third, (there are) countless mini rodeos and roping team events ALL year.”
Former Mayor and Councilman Farrell Jackson said even as a former city official, he’s been hearing how dissatisfied residents are about the proposal. The Pioneer Perfect theme was presented as a possible marketing idea during an economic development ad-hoc meeting where he sits as a member.
“When I heard this then presented at the council meeting, it sounded like a new branding of the city instead of Cowboy Capital of the World,” Jackson said. “I don’t agree with it at all. We’re much more than a two-day cowboy event city. Cowboy Capital of the World happens all year long.”
Other messages to the Leader included the city’s references to Bushwacker, the Cowboy Museum, ‘Yesterday Is Tomorrow’ (Downtown Cowboy) statue, National Day of the Cowboy celebration and the Rodeo and Saddle Club.
“I don’t think the ‘two day’ rodeo comment went over well,” said Oakdale councilwoman Cherilyn Bairos when contacted mid-week. “What I was told is it isn’t going to take the place of Cowboy Capital of the World, but that they’re just trying to do it for OTVB. Oakdale will be known as the Cowboy Capital of the World as far as I’m concerned.”
Councilman J.R. McCarty, who had told Boggs on the night of the presentation that he couldn’t get behind losing the Cowboy Capital of the World, also said he wouldn’t back anything that didn’t have that as the slogan.
“There’s no way I’m going to be comfortable with “Pioneer Perfect” being pushed for Oakdale,” McCarty said. “Oakdale is, and will always be, the Cowboy Capital of the World.”
Tourism Bureau Backs Off
The uproar from the proposal caused Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer, who had supported Boggs’ pitch, to put out a press release at the end of the week on Friday, March 13.
The release stated that it had been “rumored” that the city was considering changing its slogan.
“This is not true,” Whitemyer wrote. “The City of Oakdale and its residents have long been proud to be the ‘Cowboy Capital of the World.’ Oakdale is and will always be the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”
“Any idea that the City of Oakdale was considering changing its slogan is false,” said Whitemyer when contacted.
By Friday night, Boggs and the OTVB issued their own press release which stated it would now “embrace” the “Cowboy Capital Mantra.”
“In light of passionate community response to the “Pioneer Perfect” brand campaign as proposed by the Oakdale Tourism and Visitors Bureau, the tourism working group has unanimously agreed to forego the launch of this effort and embrace the traditional community slogan “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Boggs’ release stated. “We recognize that it takes a community to drive positive change and we are committed to building partnerships and fostering a collective spirit. To that end, the “Cowboy Capital of the World” brand slogan will replace the proposed “Pioneer Perfect” campaign recommendation.”
According to some within the city, city employees have now been instructed to say “Cowboy Capital of the World” when answering city phones.