Dogwood to announce headlining performers with party Wednesday

Organizers with the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival will be kicking off a milestone year in style, as the public is invited to join them for special celebration Wednesday evening.

The festival will announce the lineup of performing artists for its upcoming 25th anniversary during a public reception beginning at 6:30 p.m. in its office inside the Huntington Bank Building downtown. The ceremony will be open to the public, with visitors having the opportunity to purchase tickets for the planned events during the event.

While normally organizers announce the authors, singers, storytellers and other artists coming to Dowagiac for the springtime festival earlier in the year, a few late decisions this year has pushed the public release of these names back farther than usual, said Festival Secretary Bobbie Jo Hartline. With the 2016 festival marking a major anniversary, organizers decided to up the pomp and circumstance surrounding the news this year.

“We’re ready for a big announcement, so we’d figure we’d have a big party to celebrate,” Hartline said.

On top of the usual types of performers being brought into this year’s festival, organizers have a few new events and surprises lined up to commemorate the anniversary that will be shared with the community Wednesday, Hartline said.

On top of the announcements, attendees will also learn a brief history of the Dowagiac festival, and will have a chance to ask questions to organizers and other guests slated to appear. Tickets will also go on sale during the event, with visitors having the first crack to choose which seats they wish to purchase, something normally only reserved for Dogwood Members, Hartline said.

Volunteers will also serve hors d’oeuvres and wine during the party.

Started in 1993, the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival began with a handful of volunteers working out of various church basements, selling tickets from their purses and cars while working from a makeshift office consisting of a folding table and telephone located inside the downtown train depot.

In the years since, the festival has grown into a 10-day long celebration, organized by more than 200 volunteers from Dowagiac and beyond. Over the past 25 years, organizers have brought in more than 600 different artists to discuss, perform or showcase their works.

“We’re really proud we’ve been a part of and seen those many changes,” Hartline said.

This year’s anniversary will celebrate not only the contributions of these artists and of the hundreds of volunteers but also the strong support that Dowagiac residents and visitors have shown Dogwood for the past 25 years.

“Without the community and patrons, there would be no need for a festival,” Hartline said. “This is a party for them — not just the event Wednesday evening, but throughout the entire festival.”

The 2016 Dogwood Fine Arts Festival takes place from May 5-15. Information about the festival is available online at http://dogwoodfinearts.org, or by calling the festival office at (269) 782-1115.

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