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Fayetteville City Council to consider financial assistance for Dogwood Festival


The Fayetteville City Council on Monday night is scheduled to consider providing financial assistance to the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival, which is looking to recover from financial hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion has been tabled twice, including a request to drop it from last Thursday’s budget work session.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

The 40th Dogwood Festival was held in downtown Fayetteville on April 22-24.

The Dogwood Festival Inc. board of directors has requested $15,000 to support the event’s expenses.

“As many know, the festival has been on a long hiatus since the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning in March 2020,” reads an April 7 letter addressed to City Manager Doug Hewett from festival Executive Director Sarahgrace Snipes. “Due to this hiatus, the annual festival has not been able to be held since 2019; fortunately, the festival has shown resilience.

“Throughout the pandemic, several small fundraisers were held and as mass gathering restrictions relaxed last summer, events have been able to continue.”

While the festival has been able to bounce back from the financial hardship, Snipes wrote, the support would be greatly appreciated. It is the festival’s intention to use the money to promote sustainability.

With the latest festival, Snipes said in an interview Friday, organizers were still working with some funds from 2020.

"We are still a little behind, and we would like a little bit of support to maintain financial sustainability for the next events for the remainder of 2022," she said.

The festival's overall budget for the year is close to $500,000, according to Snipes.

"All of our other financial support comes from sponsorships and grants," she said. "I would say sponsorships make up a considerable portion of our income. We do receive some grant funds from the Tourism  Development Authority of Cumberland County and also The Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. Any other funds that we don't receive from them we recruit sponsorship and ticket sales and other revenue ... If we're looking to make up that money — the $15,000 or even more — we would have to add additional fundraising."

Snipes said the latest festival did not wind up in the red in terms of profit and loss.

"We have seen some profit but doing festivals like ours, it takes a lot of financial resources," Snipes said. "It sometimes comes down to cash flow."

Watershed study 

In other business, staff members are expected to present the findings of a Blounts Creek watershed study. Part of the study focused on Blounts Creek into downtown.

The recommendations include improvements to the bridges at Russell and Person streets as well as stream enhancements, according to materials in the agenda packet. The estimated cost is $20.5 million, the agenda packet states.

The materials say the improvements to Russell and Person streets would keep more roads open during large storm events.

The project would require consulting and coordinating with the N.C. Department of Transportation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and other agencies, the materials state. 

On another matter, Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin is expected to discuss support of a proposed aquatic center.

The parks and recreation advisory board has expressed interest in an aquatic center and is requesting the council’s support, Banks-McLaughlin states on her agenda item request. No other information about the aquatic center, including where it would be located, was available in the agenda materials.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, City Council, Dogwood Festival, watershed study