By Catherine Pritchard
Baseball threw a curve ball at this year’s Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.
But organizers handled it with ease and say the result will be a festival that’s bigger and better than ever.
The Dogwood Festival is Fayetteville’s premier springtime event, drawing tens of thousands of people from around the region and the state to enjoy free concerts, a huge array of vendors of arts, crafts, food and beer, street performers, fireworks and overall fun throughout Festival Park and downtown Fayetteville. This year, the festival’s 36th, it will run from April 26th to April 29th
Several new things are in store.
Cork and Fork, a special food and wine event that will be held on April 25th, will be held the evening before the festival officially kicks off. It’s intended to be an elegant evening of tasty pleasures. Unlike most festival events, tickets will be required at a cost of $40 each and availability is limited.
The festival will also feature more concerts over more days and it will close three hours later than in the past on its final day – at 9 p.m.
The concert lineup will for the first time include a rap/hip-hop night – on Friday – with performances by three stars from the late ‘80s and ‘90s.
The Fayetteville Urban Ministry will hold a cornhole tournament at the festival instead of its usual rubber-duck derby.
And the carnival midway will not be in its most recent usual location by the Prince Charles Hotel because a minor-league baseball stadium is now being built there. Instead, the midway will be set up in the parking lot of the Masonic lodge on Mason Street. The latter situation sparked some of this year’s changes in the festival.
Carrie King, the festival’s executive director, said organizers knew they could no longer use the spot by the Prince Charles for the midway and they didn’t think they’d be able to find another spot for it.
So they brainstormed ideas for another attraction to make up for those lost revenues.
Ultimately, they decided to add a big Thursday night concert to the usual Friday and Saturday night lineup. The concerts are free – though people can pay to sit in the front rows – but they’re major income producers for the festival because of food and beer sales.
After the extra concert was added to the schedule, the festival unexpectedly secured permission to put the midway in the Masonic lodge parking lot so it’s happening too.
“I think it’s going to be a great event,” King said of the festival.
She believes tens of thousands of people will agree.
Here are more details about what’s in store:
Music will be all around at the festival, including local performers on the Cape Fear Music Stage on Green Street from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. But the big names will be performing at night on the CenturyLink stage at Festival Park. Local acts will perform before them, including all afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.
Hard rock band Jackyl, kicks off the headliner concerts at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Jackyl, whose sound has been described as heavy metal and Southern metal, is best known for its 1992 song “The Lumberjack,” which includes a chainsaw solo by lead singer Jesse James Dupree. Other hits include “Down on Me,” “When Will It Rain” and “Push Comes to Shove.”
Parental FYI: Jackyl’s show isn’t intended to be kid-friendly.
Friday night brings rap and hip-hop to the Dogwood Festival with a trio of headliners with well-known hits from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
First up, at 8 p.m: Young MC, best known for “Bust A Move,” a 1989 hit that Rolling Stone magazine 20 years later described as “a G-rated funk-bomb integral to hip-hop’s eventual mainstream acceptance.” It’s got a “popping bassline” and “infectious rhymes,” the magazine said – and it’s still very familiar today. Even if you don’t think you’ve ever heard its incredibly danceable beat, you almost certainly have, in the soundtracks of movies, TV shows and ads.
Young MC’s other hits include “Principal’s Office” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” He co-wrote the Tone-Loc hits “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina.”
At 9 p.m.: Coolio performs. The rapper with the spiky braids created one of the most successful rap songs of all time with 1995’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” used in the movie “Dangerous Minds.” His other hits include “Fantastic Voyage,” “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” and “C U When U Get There.” He also rapped the theme song for the ‘90s Nickelodeon series “Kenan & Kel.”
At 10 p.m. comes Rob Base, half of the team that made the 1988 platinum album “It Takes Two” (whose biggest hit was a ubiquitous song with the same name) and the 1989 gold album “The Incredible Base.” Other hit songs include “Get on the Dance Floor” and “Joy and Pain.” Base’s musical partner, DJ E-Z Rock, died in 2014 from complications related to diabetes.
The festival’s traditional Boom and Bloom fireworks show will start as the rap concert ends.
Saturday night’s headliner is country artist Rodney Atkins, set to perform at 9 p.m.
Atkins, who was the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist in 2006, has had six No. 1 hits on the country charts over the last 12 years, including “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows),” “Watching You,” “These Are My People” and “Take a Back Road.”
Atkins has made four studio albums and is working on his fifth. He has sold more than 10 million records.
On Sunday, Zoso, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, will perform, starting at 7 p.m.
Zoso calls itself “the ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience” and prides itself on embodying Led Zeppelin and its members the appearance, playing style and performances. Zoso has been playing together since 1995 and says its members “have perfected their art.”
Cork & Fork
6-9 p.m., Wednesday, Festival Park
This event will feature chef-inspired gourmet creations paired with complementary elegant wines. It will also be a fundraiser for KidsPeace, a charity that serves the behavioral and mental health needs of children, families and communities.
Tickets cost $40 apiece and availability is limited. Check faydogwoodfestival.com for information.
5-10 p.m., Friday, noon-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Masonic Lodge parking lot on Mason Street
Carolina Fun Factory
5-10 p.m., Friday, noon-10 p.m., Saturday, noon-8 p.m., Sunday, beside the Ray Avenue entrance to Festival Park
Another new addition to the festival, this will be a play area with inflatables and other fun activities just for children in preschool and elementary school.
Noon-8 p.m., Saturday, Gillespie Street
If you want to try activities like rock climbing and bungee jumping, this will be the place for you.
Noon-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Hay Street
Stroll along Hay Street and check out the wares of the many vendors of arts, crafts, food and drink as well as displays by nonprofit groups. It’s also fun just to people-watch.
Noon-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Person Street
This is a fun area with free child-friendly games and activities that educate and entertain and that are hands-on and age and developmentally appropriate. It’s held by the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County.
Noon-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Gillespie Street
Solution Action Sports brings its popular freestyle BMX bike show back by popular demand. Three shows a day are planned. They’re free and open to the public.
Air Born Aerials
Noon-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, in front of the Market House on Hay Street
Members of this specialized exercise studio will perform acrobatics throughout the weekend.
Shadows of the Fire
Noon-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, parking lot beside Hay Street United Methodist Church
This local belly-dancing group will perform through the weekend. Group leader Debbie Pernat Belles will also schedule other dance performances.
Classic Car Show
1 p.m., Sunday, 400 block of Hay Street
Enjoy admiring antique cars and trucks, restored classic vehicles and custom hot rods at the Lafayette Ford Classic Car Show.
Boss Toss Challenge
1-5 p.m., Sunday, Festival Park
Toss with your boss, toss like a boss or, if you’re feeling very brave, maybe try tossing your boss at the Fayetteville Urban Ministry’s cornhole tournament.
Up to 60 teams can compete.
Austin Duke community outreach coordinator for the Fayetteville Urban Ministry, said funds raised from the tournament will go to the organization’s services, including food and clothing for neighbors in need and service members, adult literacy, job training, emergency home repairs and mentoring programs for at-risk and court-involved youth.
To register for the tournament, go to faydogwoodfestival.com/events/2017/boss-toss or register between noon and 1 p.m. at Festival Park on that Sunday.