Local News

Some Pan Where Dogwood Festival Puts Down Roots

Posted March 25, 2008 12:48 p.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2008 6:38 p.m. EDT

— For the second year in a row, the Dogwood Festival will be held in Festival Park, but some locals say the event would work better downtown.

Organizers said Tuesday that they expect up to 150,000 people at the April 25-27 event, which would set an attendance record for the festival, now in its 26th year. Admission to the event is free.

Businessman John Malzone chaired the Dogwood Festival in the 1980s when it was held on Hay Street. He said he disagrees with the decision last year to move it to the new Festival Park and sent a letter to city officials to complain about the shift.

"When you try to take a growing festival that attracts (50,000 to) 100,000 people and try to put it in a venue that was designed for 10,000 or 20,000 people, you're going to have problems," Malzone said. "I'd like it to grow back into the downtown area."

Carrie King, executive director of the 2008 festival, said organizers never intended to confine activities to the park but planned spread them along surrounding streets.

"The city has built the park for this use, and that's what we're using it for," King said, adding that the layout has been reworked since last year – about 140,000 attended that event – to provide more room for vendors and festivalgoers.

"We have played off that this year and expanded our space and given everybody, including our vendors and our patrons, a little more room to move around," she said.

Malzone called Festival Park is a wonderful venue but said he thinks it should complement the festival.

"I'm worried about two, three, four years down the road, as it continues to grow," he said. "Will it be able to thrive in a small venue?"

Rocker Eddie Money will perform the opening-night concert for this year's Dogwood Festival, organizers said Tuesday.

Known for 1970s and 1980s hits like "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Baby Hold On," Money will perform at 9 p.m. April 25. Vanessa Carlton, whose 2002 song "A Thousand Miles" reached the Top 5 on the Billboard charts, will perform on April 26.

Organizers also unveiled the poster design for the festival, which created by local artist Anne Evanco, and the art print that will be sold at the festival. The print, called "Dogwood Days," was painted by Mary Nan Thompson and depicts the Hay Street water fountain framed by blooming dogwoods.