It’s been almost a year since Sarahgrace Snipes came on board as executive director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.
In that time, she’s been busy with the Fayetteville After Five summer concert series and the Dogwood Fall Festival. But she has yet to get a spring festival under her belt.
That is expected to change this month as the 40th annual Fayetteville Dogwood Festival returns to downtown for the first time since 2019.
“I’m excited to be able to go through this,’’ said Snipes, who had experience working with the North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington before coming to Fayetteville. “I’ve been here almost a year and have not been through a spring festival yet.’’
The festival kicks off April 22, a Friday, and continues throughout the weekend with concerts, food, vendors, children’s activities, carnival rides and other events. It all takes place in Festival Park and surrounding downtown areas.
The spring festival was canceled in March 2020 and again in 2021 because of concerns related to the pandemic.
One of the big attractions each year is the entertainment, from local performers who open for headlining acts to well-known artists with top hits.
This year’s festival lineup includes five national acts: 1990s alternative-rock bands Hoobastank and Marcy Playground and country artists Dillon Carmichael, Kameron Marlowe and Tyler Farr.
“This is the first year we’ve been able to bring in five national headliners,’’ Snipes said. “That’s big, especially given the last few years.’’
Marcy Playground and Hoobastank are the featured performers on opening night, April 22, in Festival Park. Fireworks are planned after the last performance, organizers said.
Carmichael, Marlowe and Farr take the stage on April 23.
The final day of the festival will feature a performance by The Purple Madness – A Tribute to Prince.
All of the concerts are free, but there is some front-row seating available for $25. Tickets may be purchased at the Dogwood Festival website, thedogwoodfestival.com.
This year’s festival has several new features, including more music and entertainment options.
A local music area will be set up on Gillespie Street featuring acoustic country music, Snipes said. There will be music from noon to 4 p.m. April 23 and April 24. Scheduled performers include Dave Wilbert, Bailey Morrison, AJ Sanders, Brent Atwood and the Southern Country Outlaws and Damien Horne and The Magi.
The festival is partnering for the first time with Sweet Valley Ranch, which will bring a petting zoo - with llamas, goats and miniature horses - games and part of its “Dinosaur World’’ attraction. Also new is a professional wrestling tournament billed as “Ring Wars Carolina,” which will take place April 23 and April 24 at Hay Street and Ray Avenue. The event will be coordinated by a Hope Mills-based group, Snipes said.
Vendors, other entertainment
Returning activities include the Airborn Aerial performers; BMX shows; a car, motorcycle and truck show; children’s activities, carnival rides and the Shadows of the Fire dance troupe.
Snipes said more than 100 vendors are expected to be set up along Hay Street and Ray Avenue offering everything from arts and crafts to specialty foods.
Festival hours will be 5 to 11 p.m. on April 22; noon to 11 p.m. on April 23; and noon to 9 p.m. on April 24.
Cork & Fork
The fourth annual Cork & Fork, a food and wine event, will start the Dogwood Festival weekend on April 21.
Each year the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival partners with a nonprofit organization to host this event in Festival Park. This year the festival is partnering with United Way of Cumberland County.
The event, which features wine and hors d’oeuvres prepared by local chefs, is 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person or $75 per couple. They may be purchased at the festival’s website, thedogwoodfestival.com.
There will also be a silent auction, and bottles of wine will be sold.