uac042512001.jpg Fayetteville’s favorite festival, the Dogwood Festival, turns 30 this year, and like most things, it’s just getting better with age.

Slated for Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29, the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival is going to bring a whirlwind of activity to the city center, and, if Carrie King, the director of the the festival has her way, a lot of tourist to the community.

“We are ready to go and we are anxiously awaiting our opportunity to bloom for Fayetteville,” said King.

King and her crew of volunteers have been working since last year’s festival to get ready for the upcoming festival. The organization consists of one full-time employee and one part-time employee. Most of the work is done by the volunteer board of 21. It operates on a budget of $400,000. In 2011, the festival was voted among the Top 20 Events of the Year by the 2011 Southeast Tourism Society and was a Grand Pinnacle Winner for International Festivals and Events.

King said these awards are signifi cant, particuarly when you put things in perspective and look at who is in the competion — events like the Kentucky Derby.

“We competed on a regional and international level against events in the industry that have very big staffs with very big budgets!”

Winning the awards and recognition helps get the word out about the festival, but this year, King had another means of advertising.

“We are hoping for a much bigger crowd this year,” she said. “We have done a lot of marketing outside of our community, thanks to a Tourism Development Authority Grant.”

The grant is designed specifi cally to advertise tourism venues outside of their location. King put the money to good work spreading the word about the Dogwood Festival all over the state. Most recently, she had a big billboard right in the middle of the Azalea Festival footprint in Wilmington.

“We are expecting to get a lot of out-of-towners,” she said.

With that in mind, she has worked hard to put together an exceptional festival, and she believes that attendees will be impressed. 

The annual party starts Friday night at 6 p.m. with the Bloom & Boom Kickoff Party at Festival Park. The party features country crooner Gretchen Wilson. Following her performance, fireworks will light up the sky. King said that food vendors and other participants will be on hand. The Family Foods/Taco Bell Midway will open at 6 p.m. For $20, you can ride all the rides you want during the party. If you bring a receipt totaling $5 or more from any local Taco Bell, you 04-25-12-dogwood.jpgwill receive $5 off the wristband.

On Saturday, the street festival will start at noon, and will feature more 100 arts and crafts and food vendors, as well as fun activities for the whole family. The midway will open at noon and will close at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It will operate on a ticket-based system.

On Sunday, the festival kicks off at 1 p.m. and closes at 6 p.m. Admission is free to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s concert is a ticketed event.

Free offsite shuttle services will be available at the city parks and recreation facility on Lamon Street. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes and will transport passengers to the festival footprint. Hours of operation are Saturday 3-11 p.m. Disabled parking will be designated in the Hay Street United Methodist Church Parking lot and the Bank of American Parking lots on Ray Ave. Availability is first come, first served basis.

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