Last year’s festival was the biggest in the 60 year history of the celebration
STEUBENVILLE, OH—Residents of this quiet Ohio community are up in arms over city leaders’ decision to shorten the town’s annual Rape Festival from a full week to three days. The festival, which began in the early 1950s, generates around $5 million in tax revenue for the town on an average year, attracting visitors from all across the country. The decision to tone down this year’s festival comes in the wake of a scandal involving two local high school football players and an allegedly drunk “victim”.
“While we obviously don’t condone the actions of this person, we recognize the need to let due process run its course,” says Steubenville mayor, Domenick Mucci, “If there’s one thing we respect here in Steubenville, it’s the law.”
Local vendors will feel the brunt of the economic impact, but many residents also feel like the decision is an attack on the culture of the community.
“This is a little bit like taking away our identity,” says Thomas Mason, a Steubenville business-owner, “My family has lived here for five generations. That’s five generations of rapists—and rape victims.”
Local celebrity Tracy Lords recently went on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight to plead to Steubenville leaders to keep the festival intact, describing it as instrumental in helping her choose the career path that brought her fame.
“I really think the culture there helped prepare me for my career,” says Lords, “If they take the festival away, I’m really afraid we might not see another Tracy Lords.”
Nevertheless, Mucci says the town council’s decision is the right one.
“I think we’re just being respectful to the notion of justice as an ideal,” Mucci says, “The festival will be back next year bigger than ever. In the meantime, we must remember that throwing out wild allegations is not a victimless crime. There are two football players who might have to sit out the first game of next season because of this.”
Mucci says that while several scheduled music acts have been cancelled, the popular Rape Run, in which females are given a 15 second head start, will still be held on Saturday.