By Anthony DeMatteo
The Blue Crab Festival and the owner of a local clothing store are at odds over the rights to sell a t-shirt depicting the Blue Crab Festival name.
Dixie Outfitters, a retail business owner Jaydee Ritchie calls a “Southern heritage store,” plans to market 1,500 T-shirts depicting a blue crab in a confederate overcoat at two booths she rented from the festival. Festival officials have other plans.
“They will not sell those T-shirts at the booths,” said Marshall Fulghum, the tri-county festival chairman. “They don’t have the authority just to make a T-shirt for us.”
Fulghum said Ritchie did not tell festival officials she intended to sell the shirts. He said the booth was rented to the business to sell other items and that the shirt would take revenue from the festival by decreasing sales of its official T-shirts.
“Official T-shirt sales and beer sales bring the money we use to put the show on,” said chairwoman of T-shirt sales Lynda Crabill.
The Blue Crab Festival is a nonprofit venture that donates money to community projects and organizations.
For 12 years, operators of a Tifton, Ga. Dixie Outfitters franchise sold items depicting the rebel flag.
“The festival does not have a problem with the flag,” Fulghum said.
Fulghum also said he did not want to ignore complaints he said he has received from black residents regarding the sale of merchandise including the rebel flag.
He said the festival does not have a problem with Ritchie selling the shirt in her St. Johns Avenue store.
Between 150,000 and 250,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which runs from May 26 to May 29.
Ritchie said festival officials told her they will return money she paid to reserve the booths and ban her from operating them if she tries to sell the shirts at the festival. If that happens, Ritchie said she will sue.
“If they bring me my money and tell me I can’t be in those booths, I’m going to sue them,” she said. “They have been very hostile.”
Fulghum said there are not issues with Ritchie’s shirts violating Blue Crab Festival trademarks. He would not say whether Ritchie would be asked to relinquish the booths she rented – one near the courthouse and another closer to the riverfront – if she does not back off on plans to sell the shirts.
Dixie Outfitter’s shirt-front depicts a realistic, flag-draped blue crab, in contrast to the cartoon crab Fulghum said the festival has partially trademarked. On the back of the shirt are the words “Palatka Blue Crab Festival” and “Welcome to Palatka” around a facsimile of a mural on a building off Memorial Parkway.
At press time, the Palatka Daily News did not know who owned the mural.
Ritchie said that whatever happens, she plans on making more of the shirts for next year’s festival.
“This was year one,” she said. “Next year will be much bigger. We’re going to make a lot more.”