Kansas City Strip

But what about those carnies? Cancel the chartered motor coaches, city folks. It turns out 4-H kids won’t be handing out bucketfuls of methamphetamine at this summer’s Missouri State Fair after all. In fact, since announcing the theme of this year’s festivities, fair director Gary D. Slater has been scrambling to combat a nasty case of foot-in-mouth disease — the kind that affects humans, not cows or sheep.

After a radio station took special note of the fair’s 2001 theme — “Crank up the Fun” — Slater felt compelled to issue a statement clarifying that the fair does not endorse drug use. “‘Crank up the Fun’ encourages Missourians to enjoy the event’s entertainment and activities — nothing more,” Slater said.

Lisa Church, creative director for Callis & Associates, the Sedalia advertising agency that came up with the slogan, says it even passed the cop test.

“Obviously you’d have to have your head in the sand not to know that ‘crank’ is a term for methamphetamine,” Church says, “but none of our focus groups found any problems with that. In fact, one of our focus groups included a drug enforcement officer involved in busting methamphetamine labs, and he didn’t see any problem. The fair has used the word ‘fun’ for the last several years, and it’s become kind of a trademark word for them, so this year we have ‘Crank up the Fun.’ We all know what the phrase ‘crank up’ means. It means ‘kick it up a notch.'”

“There are hundreds of words in the English lexicon that can have double meanings depending on your mindset and how you use them,” Slater adds. “Lots of them you’ll never find in Webster’s. But anyone who is familiar with the Missouri State Fair knows that we would never, in any way, promote drug use. Illegal drug use is a horrendous problem. We don’t condone it, and we certainly don’t promote it.”

They do, however, promote acts like last year’s Def Leppard (“Let’s Get Rocked,” “Rock of Ages”), REO Speedwagon (“Keep Pushin’,” “Take It on the Run”) and Styx (“High Time,” “Crystal Ball”). So fair organizers might want to consider an alternate theme: Cranky Old Men.

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