Preview: Festival crashing, Dogwood-style


(Photo by Jack Looney)

Nothing says quaint quite like the Charlottesville Dogwood Festival, which marks its sixty-third annual resurrection this year. Comprised of nearly a month of disparate events and activities, the Dogwood Festival has a little something for everyone, as long as everyone likes BBQs, fireworks, beauty pageants, war memorials, carnivals, or fundraising breakfasts. While there is certainly plenty of reason to celebrate the Dogwood Festival for its wholesome and philanthropic raison d’être, we prefer our festivals with a little mischief amongst the kid-friendliness. Hence, for you hedonism hobbyists, we present this brief guide to going gonzo at the Dogwood Festival without disrupting the inherent pastoral quality.

April 13
Pork BBQ and fireworks
McIntire Park, 5:30pm
With plates encumbered by pulled pork for six bucks each and bursting skyrockets as a closer, this evening should be experienced as-is. This is as crazy as an officially sanctioned Dogwood event will get on its own. Bring someone else’s date.

April 14
Deadline for parade
applications, $20 fee
Who wants to be in the parade? Uh, you do. According to the entry form, throwing candy from a moving parade float could result in a lifetime ban from future parades. Street cred don’t come easy. Just sayin’.

April 20
Celebrate any place, but we recommend Rapture
No official Dogwood events are scheduled, so take this Friday night to visit your favorite watering hole and explain how, as per legend, the cross upon which Jesus was crucified was carpentered from dogwood planks. A quick Googling will provide enough anecdotal talking points to weave a smashing tale you can share with the unlucky regular on the barstool next to you.

April 21
Dogwood Children’s Festival of Fun
East Rivanna Fire House, 10am
Billed as including “face painting and tatoos [sic], and 4 very special guests!”, this two-hour event at East Rivanna Fire House provides a brief opportunity to fraternize with firefighters. Extra points for predicting who the four special guests will be; wagering not encouraged.

April 25
Dogwood Fashion Show
Belk, Fashion Square Mall, 7pm
Sneak a pitcher of Bloody Marys into this happening. In your bloodstream. Afterwards, marvel at the cottage-sized machine which vends Proactiv® acne medication outside of the Spencer’s Gifts. Wake up mañana with photobooth pics of you flanking a stranger wearing a tiara and a Red Robin uniform.

April 27
Dogwood Benefit Breakfast
Holiday Inn, Emmet Street, 7am, $12 Admission
Play hooky from your day job to experience this food-laden fundraiser. The only mind-altering substances here are hotel coffee and sausage gravy, so drop a rash amount of money on the silent auction to benefit Anna Pitts, a local 2-year-old afflicted with acute leukemia.

April 28
Dogwood Grand Feature Parade
McIntire Road, 10:50am
Didn’t get your application to be a parader in on time? No sweat. This is your chance to let your freak flag fly and get it out of your system. Fall into the flow of the procession and see if anyone cares. After all, why else would someone dolled-up as a topless Darth Vader be driving a go-cart down McIntire (wink, wink)? Parade crashing is truly a toast-worthy urban sport. Just don’t call us to post bail.

Any time
Visit the Facebook page for the current Miss Buckingham, Mahi Steinberg, and take a drink for every friend of hers who is a friend of yours.

You can sign up to volunteer for many Dogwood festivities. Give a little, get a lot. Deets at