Local News

Some say Dogwood Festival is not being fair

Posted April 14, 2008
Updated April 24, 2009

— The crowd at a heated Fayetteville City Council meeting spilled out onto the street Monday night as hundreds of people came to speak against a Dogwood Festival policy barring religious and political booths.

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

“How can we tolerate such an unconstitutional stance?" Michael Fletcher asked.

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.

“It's a concern. It's a concern that they're not allowing churches to come,” said Ernest Smith, pastor of Manna Church.

“This is not true,” Dogwood Festival Chairwoman Mary Talley proclaimed.

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

Talley also said she is "deeply surprised" the policy became so controversial.

“You know, it hurts. I'll go ahead and put it out there. We're trying to do something for the community, trying to bring it together,” she said.

Other folks said they understand the policy and don't want the protests to put a damper on the festivities.

“It's a good, wholesome family entertainment day and it should stay just exactly that,” Greg Hathaway said.

But the majority of people with whom WRAL spoke with said their rights are being taken away.

“We're not out proselytizing. We're just showing the love of Jesus in a practical way,” Smith said.

Talley stressed Monday night that she does not want anyone to feel excluded. City Council members have asked the board of directors to take a look at the policy.

Fayetteville has not yet signed on to host next year's festival.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • marymadge Apr 18, 2008

    Many of you are forgetting that the festival is put on by a PRIVATE organization, paid for by SPONSORS and NOT by taxpayer dollars. You're lucky that so many people volunteer in the first place or you wouldn't HAVE a festival. The city has very little to do with it all...but yet it benefits greatly.

    One of the festival spokespeople has unfortunately put forth wrong information by saying that churches are prohibited...they are NOT prohibited...they are, however, restricted in what they can do (no free goodies that trample on other vendor's sales...no literature that will undoubtedly turn into litter-ature)

    Perhaps the real question is WHY CAN'T THE CHURCH FOLLOW THE RULES SET OUT FOR VENDORS? Do they expect special treatment because they know how to run crying to media?

    And speaking of the media...I really wish they (newspapers and television alike) would just stop...find out what the REAL issue is...and report THAT instead of propagating a falsehood/misunderstanding!

  • TheAdmiral Apr 16, 2008

    You are confused about the second amendment. Freedom OF Religon is NOT the same as freedom FROM religion.

    I have said it before and I will say it again, even if your ears bleed. Saying a prayer at a government function is NOT STATE SPONSORED RELIGION. What the second amendment protects US (you and I) from is the federal government deciding that the Church of Latter Day Saints is the church of choice, and all people must pay homage and send money to the church (see Brittan and Germany).

    You are NOT protected under the second amendment to walk down the street and be offended by the sign in front of the church announcing when they have services. You are NOT protected under the second amendment to go to a COMMUNITY festival and be handed a flyer announcing any religion, their dates, or any other marketing material to get you into church.

    You ARE protected under the law by saying "NO THANK YOU" and if they continue on, you can have them arrested for harassment.

  • GIGATT Apr 15, 2008

    This hurts the testimony of the church. Set the example, follow the rules or leave it alone.

  • NCSULandscaper Apr 15, 2008

    dont these people have jobs to go to during the day instead of crying about something that is not that important?

  • nonja9 Apr 15, 2008

    All I have to say is that I will attend the festival this year.

  • Init4him Apr 15, 2008

    not in your hand bothering other people by pushing unwanted materials into your hand.
    Beating A Dead Horse by ^livius on deviantART

  • batcave Apr 15, 2008

    but if people decide to stay home, then who are they gonna sell to?

  • crick127 Apr 15, 2008

    Actually Rev. according to the scritpure you just cited, Jesus disciples were going house to house preaching the good news like he had instructed. And when a household did not accept the good news, then they were to dust the dust from their feet. The bible in many places shows how christians were to go out and preach in public, from the days of the arc all the way to christ himself whom dedicated his whole time on earth to preaching and teaching. That being said, a festival is probably not the best place to go about giving literature because all religions must show respect for others. And if while preaching someone says no, then that means no, simply move on. Every other vendor has to pay to be there and that should apply to all churches and politicians as well. It is also not fair that they give things away, because that hurts the business of other vendors that paid to be there.

  • Adelinthe Apr 15, 2008

    This would not have become necessary had religious groups in the past had behaved in a decent and orderly fashion.

    Nowhere in The Bible does it instruct one to call attention to themselves by behaving loudly or rudely in public places. Christ did not do so, nor should we. In fact, it instructs us to pray in secret.

    God will bring those who need witnessing to us; He doesn't expect us to chase them around in the streets. All things are to be done decently and in order, and if one witnesses to someone three times and they do not heed the lesson, we are to shake the dust from our feet and move on. Do you know why? Because there are millions yet who have not heard what God puts on our hearts to share.


    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • javanet Apr 15, 2008

    Where was the Manna croud when City/County Officials decided that praying in the name of Jesus was not allowed at public meetings? Or, when the cross in the Vetrans hospital Chapel was being sawed down and the bible thrown out of schools? Give the festival committee a break and do something really important like standing against the ACLU when they attack everything that bears the name of Jesus.