Churches angry with Dogwood Festival

April 9, 2008 7:09:29 PM PDT
Fayetteville leaders are trying to make peace with many of the city's churches and congregations.

A lot of church members are angry that this year's Dogwood Festival will not have religious booths in Festival Park.

William Legg told Eyewitness News his request for a permit to set up a religious booth was turned down.

"I had listed on my application that I would be passing out gospel tracts and bibles and having a prayer station for people," Legg said.

The Dogwood Festival is Fayetteville's biggest outdoor event. In years past, churches and religious groups were allowed to set up booths and pass out free literature. The gesture is now banned after some festival go-ers complained.

"They had complaints that people were offended by points of view of the church," said Rev. Andy Webb with Providence Presbyterian Church.

Webb says his application for a booth was also rejected.

"All we wanted to do was have a booth where we could hand out things that wouldn't conflict with other vendors," Webb said. "We're thinking pens, bibles, Christian literature things that are free. Unless there is a hot dog selling vendor we are not going to conflict with anybody."

Carrie King, the festival's executive director, says they are trying to be fair to all the festival vendors.

"The caption is that we have banned churches and that is not necessarily the case," King said. "We do have guidelines in place, and churches and political organizations are allowed to apply as a non-profit food vendor and host sanctioned events."

Neither of which Webb and other pastors say applies to them.

"We want to take part in something that is good in the community and we are being told we can't do it," Webb said.


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