Averaging 225,000 attendees, the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival is the second largest festival in the state. This year’s festival celebrates 35 years and will bring an estimated economic impact of $4.5 million to the Fayetteville area. This means while you are exploring the festival, you might also stop into a small business downtown and shop local.
Many hands help coordinate the event. There is a partnership with the City of Fayetteville, a very active Board of Directors and numerous local partnerships. Sarah Suggs, Marketing and Event Coordinator for the Festival says, “We are lucky to have the platform to create a quality event the community looks forward to.”
The 35th anniversary of Fayetteville’s Dogwood Festival comes with an expanded footprint to showcase a staggering 150 vendors. Live art and music are in focus this year, with food and family activities coming in at a close second.
During the last weekend of April, from the 28th to 30th, people come from all over to enjoy live music, regional foodie favorites and art. It’s a great way for everyone to celebrate and for visitors to experience our local and favorite small businesses. And don’t forget! The annual and beloved Boom & Bloom will light up downtown Fayetteville in brilliant colors. Fireworks shoot off Friday night at 10:30 p.m.
Unique Food Choices
Foodies are getting an upgrade this year with healthy food options. All food vendors have been invited to participate with a healthy choice for their menu. Grilled chicken kebabs, sweet potatoes and chocolate-covered fruit are still options to drool over. No foodie will leave hungry!
There will be zero judgement, however, if you want burgers, fries and milkshakes. “We wanted to give people options,” Suggs says with a smile. There will likely be more choices than one can eat through in one weekend. Bring a blanket and eat on the lawn.
Insider Tip: Stay tuned as the food vendors are confirmed. Next, map out a plan of attack. In order to hit all of your favorite food stops, many groups will split up, order a variety of options and meet back up with their booty.
For the Kids
Little ones are encouraged to be active in the free KidStuff children’s court. The Partnership for Children of Cumberland County hosts this kid-friendly zone offering children the chance to learn through play. Ages are appropriately zoned to include infant and toddler zones versus the big kids to keep everyone on their feet and having fun. Inflatables are a fan favorite for the tiniest attendees. KidsStuff will be open Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. inside Festival Park.
Arrh you ready for some sword fights? A pirate comedy show will take place Saturday on Gillespie Street. David Fisher is the Jump Rope Warrior and he will impress even the coolest teenagers. Fisher has made over 100 national television appearances including The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America and America’s Got Talent. David currently holds three world records, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! recognizes David as “The World’s Best Rope Jumper.”
There is something magical about bubbles. Now imagine a bubble the size of your child! Bubbleologist Steve Langley has appeared on The Tonight Show, and holds Guinness World Records. All shows are interactive and are bound to be great photo opportunities.
Insider Tip: Have everyone in the family wear the same bright color to easily spot one another. Smaller strollers will be your friend—that way, you can easily transport your tiny and tuckered out kids.
Art in the Streets
When asked what the staff is most looking forward to during the festival, Suggs was quick to reply. “We listened to the interest in more local, more artists. This year I am most excited about the expansion into Green, Person and Gillespie Streets for The Art is Alive expo.” With the upcoming Arts and Entertainment District Downtown, the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival shares the goal of growth for the downtown’s Historic District.
The Art is Alive will highlight local artists such as Greg Hathaway who will be throwing pottery (on a pottery wheel) into form near the Market House. Along with pottery, there will be live glassblowing, bubbleologist tricks and Aerial Air Borne acrobatics to inspire kids and adults alike.
Insider Tip: Totally bummed that you missed a show? You can bring your family back downtown to experience local art any weekend. The Arts Council, Sweet Palette, Greg’s Pottery and Cape Fear Studios are great places to start.
The Music Lineup
R&B and Jazz
Saturday 3:30 p.m.: Earth, Wind and Fire Tribute Band is bringing the funk to the third stage.
Sunday 12 p.m.: Fayetteville Jazz Orchestra will be on the third stage.
Sunday 1:45 p.m.: Fayetteville State University Jazz Express will be on the third stage.
Sunday 1:30 p.m.: Blues queen DieDra headlines with southern soul on the CenturyLink stage.
Sunday 3:30 p.m.: Reggie Codrington is one of the coolest saxophone players. He will be playing on the third stage.
Friday 9 p.m.: Parmalee tops country radio stations and is North Carolina-grown. They will be playing on the CenturyLink stage.
Saturday 5 p.m.: Wood & Steel mixes rock and 80’s covers. They will be playing on the CenturyLink stage.
Saturday 7 p.m.: Winger Pop fires off hair metal into the crowd. See them on the CenturyLink stage.
Saturday 9 p.m.: Skid Row is bringing back the 80’s heavy metal style. See them on the CenturyLink stage.
Sunday 4:30 p.m.: Lotus Sun serves up rock fusion from Fayetteville. See them on the CenturyLink stage.
*Cape Fear Music Center will show off local musicians, including their students on the Street Fair Stage.
Insider Tip: Revel in the 80’s vibes and get preferred front row seats for only $25! These tickets guarantee you a seat in the first two rows. Purchase tickets at faydogwoodfestvial.com and wristbands will be sent to your home address.
Do you have what it takes to be the next Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival? The pageant takes place on April 8 at the Crown Theatre. Winners are chosen in four age groups: Junior Miss (6 to 9 years old), Young Miss (10 to 12), Teen Miss( 13 to 16) and Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival (17 to 22). Contestants compete in three categories: a private interview, evening gown competition and an on-stage interview.
This is the 20th year of the pageant and in honor of this historic landmark, the past queens from the last 20 years will be showing up to honor Shirley Stallings, Director of the Dogwood Pageant.
The Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival winner receives a $1,000 cash scholarship as well as scholarships to Methodist University, Fayetteville State University, and Fayetteville Technical Community College. The four ladies chosen to serve as ambassadors represent the Dogwood Festival and the City of Fayetteville throughout the Southeast region. Wish them luck!
Something for everyone
Gearheads can revel in the shiny antique cars at the Lafayette Ford Classic Car Show. Foodies will have a buffet of new bites from every corner of the city. Artists young and old will feel appreciated and inspired. Shoppers will have their pick of locally made goods. Beer and wine lovers will feel at home in the beer and wine garden. Kiddos will be busy bees playing and exploring the art scene. Music fans will get up close to their favorite bands on three different stages. “There really is something for everyone,” Suggs said.
Insider Tip: Sunglasses, sunscreen, hats and lots of water are a must! Somebody forgot all three last year, and he had to consume lots of local beer to cool off.
Family with kids: Saturday is your best bet!
Begin your day in Festival Park
11-12 p.m. Free inflatables at Kidzstuff
12-1 p.m. Time to eat (healthy options available!)
Then head to Gillespie Street:
1-2 p.m. Bubbleologist
2-3 p.m. Pirate Show
3-4 p.m. Rock N’ Rope Warrior
4-5 p.m. Naptime at home
Couple: Sunday will make you swoon!
12-1 p.m. Classic Car Show
1-2 p.m. Art is alive on the street and in the air!
2-3 p.m. “Alabama’s Blues Queen” DieDra (let DieDra stir your soul while you grab lunch)
3-4 p.m. The Fayetteville Urban Ministry Duck Derby
4:30-5:30 p.m. Lotus Sun
Group of friends: Friday night is full of excitement!
7-8 p.m. Divide and conquer the food trucks
Hay Street 400 block:
8-9 p.m. Enjoy a drink in the all-new wine and beer garden
Back to Festival Park:
9-11 p.m. NC band Parmalee headlines the stage
11-12 a.m. Boom and Bloom fireworks show
Where to Park?
Parking is free downtown after 6 p.m. and on weekends for public lots. Don’t forget about the parking deck on Franklin Street, Cumberland County Courthouse and the City lots on Person Street and Old Street.
You can follow the whole schedule and details of events at faydogwoodfestival.com or by using the handle @faydogwood on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.