Considering this is a Jaycees sponsored event it seems fitting that the Dogwood Festival celebrate American military service than actual dogwood. Held annually since the forties, this festival was originally a one day parade held on Armed Forces Day. In fact, during World War II the time-honored queen of the pageant was determined by how many war bonds the contestants had sold. A handful of decades later, the pageant for Dogwood Queen has become more polished, but the austere roots of this festival can still be felt in the old timey fun and community nature of the now week long event. Still held in close proximity to Armed Forces Day, the Dogwood Festival is a week long celebration of long-established American culture and traditional family fun.
The Dogwood Festival originally started with a parade, and these days the festival plays itself out with a granddaddy of a parade. The last Saturday of the festival brings the parade fun and draws an annual crowd of nearly ten thousand. Visitors line the promenade to glimpse blazing fire engines, local bands, dancing troupes, baton twirlers, community floats, championship sports teams on tractor beds, and local politicians in sleek sports cars. Truly Americana at it’s best. The parade participants really give it their all, especially at the judging platform. This is serious competition with serious bragging rights. Trophies and awards are handed out to the best floats, bands, fire engines, antique cars, and dance groups.
All day after the float, and all week before hand, a large festival sets up downtown. Carnival-style rides and activities are set up in the local park and provide great fun for the whole family. Prices are moderate for the carnival with a discounted Family Night on Wednesday. Carnival foods are interspersed with regional clubs and local restaurants selling homemade foods and treats. There is great live entertainment all week long with over a dozen bands, concerts, orchestras an shows playing all throughout the afternoons and evenings. With a healthy mix of activities, rides, food and fun, there is something for everyone.
Admission is free but parking is limited so arrive early especially on parade day.