Dogwood Festival begins today

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 9, 2014

Novelist Elizabeth Strout will deliver a lecture at 7:30 p.m. today at the Dowagiac Middle School. (Submitted photo)

Novelist Elizabeth Strout will deliver a lecture at 7:30 p.m. today at the Dowagiac Middle School. (Submitted photo)

Like the tree it’s named after, Dowagiac’s Dogwood Fine Arts Festival blossoms in full splendor every spring.

This year’s festival looks to be no exception to the trend.

The 23rd edition of the festival opens today and runs until the following Sunday, May 18.

Headlining this year’s celebration of arts and culture novelist Elizabeth Strout, storyteller Kim Weitkamp and musician Mitch Ryder. In addition, the festival will host a number of smaller performances and demonstrations meant to entertain and educate.

New to this year’s festivities is the Emerging Playwright Award, which rewarded three college stage writers for their scripts. The winner of the inaugural award was University of Michigan student Graham Techler, whose script will be read by a group of professional actors during the festival.

The schedule for this year’s festival is as follows:


Friday, May 9

• “Up Front” Art Walk will take place from May 9 until the end of the festival on May 18.

This juried art show is displayed 24/7 in downtown Dowagiac merchant windows on, and adjacent to, Front Street. Original works from southwest Michigan and northern Indiana area artists are featured and vie for cash awards and a gallery exhibit hosted by the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival. Be a part of the public vote… walk historical downtown Dowagiac and experience art up front! Ballot guide available at Festival office as well as host businesses.

The event is free.

• Author Elizabeth Strout will deliver the 23rd annual author lecture at 7:30 p.m., at the Dowagiac Middle School Performing Arts Center. There will be also be an author’s reception and a book signing immediately following her talk.

Strout’s first novel, “Amy and Isbelle,” was published to much critical acclaim. Then came “Abide With Me,” Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Olive Kitteridge” and “The Burgess Boys.” Even though her life as a writer has become increasingly more
public, she remains a devoted, solitary and inquisitive creator of honest fiction.

This fall, HBO premiers its mini-series adaptation of “Olive Kitteridge,” produced by Tom Hanks and starring Frances McDorman, Bill Murray, and Richard Jenkins.

Tickets cost $20 for upper level seating, $25 for main floor seating, and $60 for main floor and an invitation to the
book signing.


Saturday, May 10

• The annual Dogwood Tea will be held at 1 p.m. at the Mathews Conference Center East at Southwestern Michigan College.

Enjoy an afternoon of interactive entertainment presented with an artistic flair while treating your palate to tasty teas and savory morsels.

Tickets cost $18.

• The Klassics for Kids children’s educational concert will be held at 2 p.m. at the Dogwood Festival Headquarters on Commercial Street.

A creative introduction to great music, this event is designed especially for children ages 3 to 12, featuring Lake Effect Winds, a woodwind quartet. Members of this ensemble combine their experiences from teaching and performing into a unique, fun event for young music lovers.

The event is free, with limited space.

• Professional integrated performing group, Dancing Wheels, will perform show at 7:30 p.m. at the Dale A. Lyons Building Theatre at SMC.

Considered one of the premier arts and disabilities organizations in the U.S., Dancing Wheels is a professional, physically integrated dance company uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for students.


Monday, May 12

• Local actors will do a live reading of “Nantucket Sleighride,” the winner of the inaugural Emerging Playwright Award, at 7:30 p.m. at Beckwith Theatre.

This unique award is designed to recognize emerging playwrights, ages 18–30, living or studying in Michigan and northern Indiana. Two thousand dollars in awards will be presented to the top three finishers in this competition.

Tickets cost $12.


Tuesday, May 13

• Professional storyteller Kim Weitkamp will host a master class at 7 p.m. at the Cass County COA Front Street Crossing.

Explore your creative side with a workshop on story and character creation, acting, and presentation.

Tickets cost $10.


Wednesday, May 14

• Weitkamp will give a live performance at 7:30 p.m. at the Dale A. Lyons Building Theatre.

As a humorist, storyteller, singer and songwriter, Weitkamp has earned numerous awards and is very proud of her work on the “Peace by Piece Project,” a collaboration with the Taubman Museum of Fine Arts. Kim can be heard on NPR affiliate stations and Sirius Radio.

Tickets cost $6.


Thursday, May 15

• Professional chefs Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater will deliver a culinary lecture at 7:30 p.m. at the Dowagiac Area History Museum.

The chefs of Red Mesa Cuisine in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Frank and Whitewater will bring their blend of Native American traditional and contemporary cuisine to Dowagiac.

Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for students.

• Dowagiac Union High School will host Youth Fine Arts Night at 6 p.m.

This celebration of young artists showcases elementary, middle, and high school student artwork and musical talents. Tour the student gallery of artwork and enjoy live performances by the high school choirs and bands.

The event is free.


Friday, May 16

• Chefs Frank and Whitewater will hold live cooking demonstrations and tastings at the Dowagiac Middle School Café, at 7:30 p.m. on May 16 and at 10 a.m. the following day.

All attending the demonstrations will have an opportunity to sample the food that is prepared.

Tickets cost $45 for adults and $40 for students.


Saturday, May 17

• Detroit rock and roll musician Mitch Ryder caps off this year’s festivities with a concert at 7:30 p.m. at the middle school performing center.

Mitch Ryder’s voice embodies 60’s Rock and Roll. Hits such as “Devil with a Blue Dress On,” “Sock It to Me Baby,” and “Jenny Take a Ride,” set the stage for Ryder and a life told through song. Ryder continues to record and perform steadily and has more than two dozen albums to his credit.

Tickets cost $15 for upper level seating, $20 for main floor seating and $25 for premium seating.


The 2014 Dogwood Festival is sponsored by the St. Denys Foundation, Huntington Bank, Wolverine Mutual Insurance Company, Harding’s Market, Dowagiac Lyons, Industries
Dave and Beth Mahar, 
Securit Metal Products Co., Starks Family Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, Southwestern Michigan College, Dowagiac Union Schools, WVPE NPR 88.1, Imperial Furniture, and Borgess Lee-Memorial Hospital.

For tickets or additional information, contact the festival by phone at (866) 490-2847 or (269) 782-1115, or by email at