The longtime executive-director of Fayetteville’s Dogwood Festival has retired, sort of. Carrie King now calls Cherry Grove, South Carolina, home. Her last day here was Aug. 17. King had been with the Dogwood Festival since 2006 and recently returned from the annual conference of the Southeast Festivals and Events Association with the “Best Event in the Southeast” award.
“The spirit of the Fayetteville community made the Dogwood Festival a natural choice for the award,” she said. Events in eight southern states competed for the award.
King is credited by many with developing the Dogwood Festival into the city’s marquee event, featuring a midway/carnival, food vendors, live entertainment, inflatable/bounce houses, arts and crafts, a classic car show, street fair with shopping, and lots of fun for the whole family. In large part thanks to King’s work, the Dogwood Festival has received top honors from local, state, regional and international organizations.
King’s decision to leave Fayetteville came as a surprise to some. She often referred to Fayetteville as her hometown. “This is my home,” she said in an interview three years ago.
“It was our goal to move when our son graduated from high school,” King told Up & Coming Weekly. King said members of her family have lived in North Myrtle Beach for five years and it was her family’s turn to move to her “happy place.”
She said she is proud of the growth the Dogwood Festival has undergone. She noted that when she first started working with the Dogwood Festival in 2006, the festival’s initial budget was $150,000. This year, the operating budget was $500,000. Those in the community with whom she has worked describe Carrie King as the epitome of humility. She credits her family, friends and board members for the Dogwood Festival’s success.
King’s volunteer work has included event planning for the Arts Council of Fayetteville /Cumberland County. In South Carolina, she has taken a job with a nonprofit as development manager. Her new home is 3 miles from the beach, 1 mile from her sister and 6 miles from work. “My night and weekend travel will be by golf cart,” King quipped.
The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival was founded in 1982 by then-mayor Bill Hurley and other city leaders who had a vision to improve the image of Fayetteville and create a uniting force for various events in our community. Hurley proclaimed Fayetteville “The City of Dogwoods.” The festival is staged every fourth weekend in April.
The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival, Inc. is a non-profit organization comprised of a board of directors and two staff members. Its events are presented in cooperation with the city of Fayetteville. In addition to the annual signature spring festival, the organization also produces The Fayetteville Dogwood Fall Festival, Cumberland County’s largest pageant and Fayetteville After 5.
The 2018 spring Dogwood Festival blossomed into an even larger event with two stages of entertainment, more vendors and more anchored attractions.
Photo: Carrie King, former Fayetteville Dogwood Festival executive director
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