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Festival offers music, food, fun, no religion

Posted April 3, 2008
Updated April 24, 2009

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— Thousands of people are expected to enjoy music, food and other entertainment at the annual Dogwood Festival this month. One thing they won't get at the event: religion.

Festival organizers have barred churches and other religious groups from setting up informational booths at the April 25-27 event.

"We were told churches are not allowed to participate as vendors in the Dogwood Festival," said Michael Fletcher, pastor of Manna Church.

Fletcher said his congregation has rented booths at past festivals to hand out things like free bottles of water and frozen candy bars.

"(We wanted) to show the love of Jesus in a practical way. No payment, it's just to bless you," he said.

Carrie King, executive director of the Dogwood Festival, said the policy prohibiting churches was created eight years ago. But organizers are strictly enforcing it this year after receiving complaints from people offended by churches and political candidates advertising their causes.

Organizers say churches can apply as food vendors, but can't distribute any literature from the food booths.

"There are guidelines each vendor has to abide by," King said.

Vendors who paid for booths at the festival also didn't like churches handing out free food, she said.

"That was deemed as a direct conflict with the other vendors who had paid a substantial amount of money to be there," she said.

Organizers rejected 70 applications for booths at the festival, including Manna Church and Providence Presbyterian Church. The event will feature 152 vendors.

Other large festivals in the area allow religious groups to operate booths.

Five such groups are signed up to participate in this year's Lazy Daze festival in Cary. All five are selling food and are allowed to put religious information at their booths.

Artsplosure will allow religious groups to run food or drink booths as long as they're not passing out literature. The organizers of the Raleigh event also have the power to remove anyone who enters the festival with the intent of distributing information that's not in the spirit of the arts.

King said the Dogwood Festival board of directors would meet in May to work on a new policy for leasing booths to churches. Any changes would take effect next year.

Fletcher said that doesn't right the wrong he feels is taking place at this year's festival.

"Churches are part of the community, and it's discrimination to not allow churches to be a part of our city's greatest festival," he said.

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  • mrkagain Apr 4, 2008

    " suicidal blood sacrifices (your religion teaches that Jesus is God) does not punish for good moral behavior

    This isn't the place to discuss theological differences but the supression of free speach and religion.
    colliedave"

    Another typical, garden variety disingenious liberal. First he bashes your position, and then tells you to shut up, this is about free speech. LOL ROFL ROFLMAO

  • colliedave Apr 4, 2008

    no imadookie, your god is not a forgiving god. The real God, the real Creator, who has no need for suicidal blood sacrifices (your religion teaches that Jesus is God) does not punish for good moral behavior

    This isn't the place to discuss theological differences but the supression of free speach and religion.

  • mrkagain Apr 4, 2008

    "Why are the sponsors of the Festival against the exchange of ideas in their forum?"

    Most likely they aren't, but a very vocal minority of anti-Christian zeolots has probably caused them a lot of grief, and then too a lot of people won't pay for a drink if they could get free water from a church's stand, and the vendors lose sales. So, the squeaky wheel with a lawyer in their pocket gets the grease, and money talks.

  • colliedave Apr 4, 2008

    There has been a good exchange of ideas in this forum. Why are the sponsors of the Festival against the exchange of ideas in their forum?

  • fakewralemail Apr 4, 2008

    Churches are an integral part of the community and improve the quality of communities in untold ways. It's terrible that they are being excluded because of someone else's bottom line. People sign up to be vendors knowing full well that churches will be there and what they will contribute to the festival. First, I doubt any vendor would refuse to set up shop that day because of churches' presence - churches don't have THAT much impact on vendor sales. And second, there will be people attending from the community that can't afford to pay vendor prices for bottles of water or popsicles. These vendors need to quit whining and the festival officials need to change the policy.

  • 050462 Apr 4, 2008

    well look out for me them,because i am going,and everywhere i go i will say JESUS LOVES YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comm_Guy Apr 4, 2008

    It's a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that the festival is abandoning its purpose as a reflection of the community to its many visitors.

    Churches and their members are very much a part of the community here, and that has been made evident in the outcry over this ignorant decision.

    In January, Fayetteville's local Christian radio station offered to pay for a Top 20 Christian artist to appear during the festival, and was told "...there will be no Gospel entertainment this year. We book the entertainment, and solicit sponsorship to cover the costs." Following this week's negative publicity, festival organizers followed up with a a plea for the same station to be a "Media Sponsor", meaning they trade publicity for a booth at the festival.

    The station declined.

  • mrkagain Apr 4, 2008

    I wish a safe and happy weekend to all, and God's best for you.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Apr 4, 2008

    ACLU cannot control the Lord. The Lord is controlling ACLU. Now what are you going to say about that?

  • Dr. Dataclerk Apr 4, 2008

    Claire: You go girl. You made your valid points and stood by them. Thats me too. May God/Jesus continually bless you every day, minute and hour. He is a good God/Jesus. Well, now that's two good christians here. :)

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