4 Spring is on the way, and here in Fayetteville, that usually has us looking forward to participating in and celebrating the 41st Dogwood Festival.

This award-winning Festival has quite a history in our community, and anyone who claims to be a true Fayettevillian has some time or somehow participated in, sponsored, or in some other way supported this event.

The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival should be something our city leaders are proud of. City leaders should implement ways to take advantage of its decades of success and notoriety. Competent Fayetteville leadership would be rallying around the Festival and using it to promote, market and brand our community throughout the state.

Unfortunately, Mayor Mitch Colvin and his Council colleagues only pay lip service to supporting this successful community event while their actions of late reveal how they feel about the event, its organizers and the community.

Actions always speak louder than words. Many may remember last year when Mayor Mitch Colvin and Council members Shakeyla Ingram, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, and former Councilman Larry Wright criticized and berated the young Dogwood Festival Director Sarahgrace Snipes Mitchell.

The assault on Mitchell came when she went before them to request a measly $15,000 in support of this citywide event. An event that will cost hundreds of thousands to produce. The council's verbal assault on her was unprofessional, mean-spirited, and passionate, centered around the concerns that musical entertainment acts were not "diverse" enough and failed to reflect the city's population.

It's a noble cause to look out for all the citizens of Fayetteville and to be passionate about it. But it is not becoming for Mayor Colvin and Council members to gang up and criticize someone trying to do their job. And all she was asking for was $15,000.

How much do Mitch Colvin and the City Council really care about this city or a 41-year tradition that has brought joy, fun and quality entertainment to hundreds of thousands of people, not to mention the positive economic impact on the city, especially those who have invested in our historic downtown area?

On Feb. 15, at the Aevex Veterans Club in Segra Stadium, Sarahgrace Snipes Mitchell and the Dogwood Festival Committee held their official Festival Media Night where they recognized the corporate sponsors and thanked the dozens upon dozens of businesses, organizations, vendors, craftsmen and artists for coming together with their time, talent and financial resources to make this year's event a huge success.
It was a lovely gathering, but it lacked a “WOW factor” that gets everyone excited for an upcoming event. It is my opinion that the “WOW factor” element was absent from the event because the CITY WAS ABSENT FROM THE EVENT!

Actions speak louder than words! That evening Mitch Colvin and the entire City Council were missing from the most significant Fayetteville event announcement of the year.

Not a single member of the Council took the time to support, recognize or thank the efforts of hundreds of citizens that came together to showcase the assets, personality and hospitality of our city. That behavior speaks volumes to the leadership they are NOT providing. Our city is at a critical crossroads.

If you follow what actions (and non-actions) occur in City Hall, it's evident that collectively the Council lacks integrity, intelligence and common sense. Several critical and highly sensitive issues are being decided on concerning our city, and I see bias, racism and good ole boy politics taking precedence over what is right and good for the citizens of Fayetteville. Fayetteville deserves better.

We are becoming a media desert. Real critical news is still not getting out to the public. Yes, now we have better coverage of boards, meetings and what goes on in City Hall, but this is far from investigative reporting.

As a result, the bad guys keep getting badder, and the residents continue to be the victims without a voice. Actions speak louder than words!
Our leaders are NOT showing up in the community. They are not at the theatre or the art openings; they are basically AWOL from the community. Why? Because they don't want to face the public in fear that they may have to state their position on a proposal or, heaven forbid, explain why they voted the way they did on an issue.

They are AWOL from the community because they do not want people to know how out of touch they are with the community. Fayetteville has a leadership problem that must be addressed and remedied if our community is to take on the challenges of the 21st century.

I close by saying we have a Fayetteville election in November. Pay attention to the leadership decisions now and ask yourself if we can do better. We can. We must.

I love this community as much as you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this newspaper.
Again, I want to thank Sarahgrace Snipes Mitchell and her staff for a job well done. The 2023 Dogwood Festival will be a great event!

Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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