Downtown Fayetteville was packed with people Saturday as they enjoyed the annual Dogwood Festival. Previous estimates say more than 200,000 people have visited the festival over its three-day period in recent years. According to the festival's website the Dogwood Festival makes a $2.5 million impact on Fayetteville. "I love it. It has a little bit of everything," commented Gale Hanley of Hope Mills. "It has great stuff for the kids, and that's what's important to me."
She enjoyed so much with her grandchildren they had to stop and take a break.
There certainly is a lot to see and do at the festival - from arts and crafts vendors to street performances, to concerts. "It's a really fun environment because I've seen a lot of my friends here, and I've been to a lot of the booths… eaten some food," said Madison Willard of Cameron. "I love their fried foods. I'm really excited to try their fried Oreos."
Hanley could not pass up the food either. In fact, it was a highlight of her day.
"I got to have one of those flavored ices, so that was my favorite part," Hanley said.
Tanesha Solis from Fayetteville said she enjoys the fact that you do not have to pay for anything unless you want to. The kids activities - one of the biggest draws - is free. "The only thing you pay for is food, and they have little booths set up if you wanna buy stuff, but most of it's free, like for the kids," Solis said. For some people safety concerns have been heightened this year because the community learned about letters sent to gang members in regards to the festival. Fayetteville Police warned about 50 gang members that they could be charged with trespassing if they attend the festival. William Creek said a big police presence made him feel better at the festival Saturday afternoon. "When we came in there was a lot of police and fire and city workers just out and about," Creek explained. "You can't miss them." Fayetteville's police chief said earlier in the week all of his officers would be working this weekend. Officers on Hay Street Saturday said there had not been any significant problems.
The Dogwood Festival continues on Sunday from 12:30-6:00 p.m.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>