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Bill Kirby Jr.: Special projects coordinator heading Fayetteville Dogwood Festival’s way

Arts Council grant of $12,500 will help the nonprofit hire another employee


You can’t exactly call it a financial windfall.

But every dollar counts.

Especially when you are overseeing the annual Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. And, not to mention the accompanying fall festival and those spring through summer Fayetteville After Five gatherings at Festival Park.

“Hiring a supportive position will lead to a remarkable change in the organization,” says Sarahgrace Snipes, the youthful executive director with so much passion for leading the nonprofit Dogwood Festival. “Historically, the organization has employed at least two positions. We are looking forward to pushing past the limitations of COVID-19 faced by the organization.”
That’s right, except for an intern, Sarahgrace Snipes has been going it alone in overseeing an annual $519,000 operating budget that includes $324,000 for the spring festival, Snipes says. The cost of the fall festival is $32,000, and you can throw in another $44,000 for three Fayetteville After Five events.
Now, thanks to a $12,500 grant from the Arts Council of Fayetteville-Cumberland County, the Dogwood Festival is looking to hire a special projects coordinator who will be responsible for overseeing various projects and activities for the organization.
The festival, Snipes says, will match the $12,500 toward the salary. The new position, Snipes says, will pay an annual salary of about $32,000.

‘Someone to bring new ideas’

It’s all welcome news for Snipes.
“Because it gives the executive director more time to focus on the organization’s development overall,” she says. “I will have more time working in and networking” in the community.
That means selling the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival to potential sponsors and building relationships.
 “I am a logistical person,” Snipes says. “I’m not afraid to say I lack in the creative department. I’m looking for someone to bring new ideas so I can build relationships. We have to be innovative while keeping our traditions.”
The special projects coordinator, Snipes says, will focus on special programs such as the car and motorcycle show, Fayetteville After Five and expanding the downtown footprint for the organization.
“I will oversee everything,” Snipes says, adding that she will be out in the community telling the Dogwood Festival story. “I truly enjoy being able to spend time in the community. There are some wonderful people in Cumberland County and some who didn’t know what the Dogwood Festival did outside of the spring festival.”
Tara Long, 43, is the new president of the board of directors for the Dogwood Festival, and Long shares in Snipes’ excitement.
“I look forward to hiring a new person to help out,” she says. “It will be good to have a new person on staff. It will just be good to have another person.”
Bob Pinson is interim president and chief executive officer for the Arts Council.
“The Arts Council is pleased to partner with the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival in support of the special projects coordinator," Pinson says. “We are also pleased that more funds have been made available for the project support grants for 2022-23 and that we are reaching deeper into previously underserved areas of our community as evidenced by the many new applicants this year.”


The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival is the signature celebration of this city and now is moving into its 41st year. And while Sarahgrace Snipes at age 24 may be young, the Whiteville native is passionate about the festival’s success and its future.

Some of the musical acts could be better. It’s hard to beat beach and country bands and Motown tribute bookings. Keep in mind, this is a family festival. The onus is not on Snipes alone but the board of directors to that end. And the organization has a personable president in Tara Long, who brings enthusiasm, too.

It’s all good news for the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival, and that will be good for the city.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Fayetteville, Dogwood Festival, Bill Kirby Jr., Arts Council