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Plans are being finalized for the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Orleans Dogwood Festival which is set for April 20th through April 29.

This year’s general festival theme, “Celebrating the blossom for a Season-Celebrating the Memories for a Lifetime,” invites former residents far and wide to help mark this very special community observance.

Opening weekend ceremonies will also include a special community event, “Mayberry Values” featuring entertainment special celebrity guest Rodney Dillard of The Andy Griffith Show.  The program will be Sunday night, April 22nd 7 p.m. at Unity Hall and billed as a wonderful evening of songs, stories, and humor.   The program is free; however a freewill offering will be taken.

Rodney Dillard

Orleans Dogwood Festival organizers are excited to announce that this year’s 50th Anniversary kick off weekend activities of the Dogwood Festival will include a very special community event with celebrity guest Bluegrass Hall of Fame Legend and member of the “Darling Family” on The Andy Griffith Show, Rodney Dillard. 

Dillard was one of the beloved “Darling boys” on many episodes.  Through the years, he, his brothers, paw and sister Charlene would roll into town on the old truck and fill Mayberry with their mountain bluegrass music and dead pan humor.

New offerings will include a 50th Anniversary Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre “Murder at the Pie Auction,” for Parade weekend Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29. The dinner show is in partnership with The Orange County Players and Wicks Pies.  Advance tickets are now on sale for $10 and includes the meal at Fifth Third Bank, Orleans Town Offices and/or from any cast member. Tickets are limited for both performances and expected to sell out quickly.

On April 24th the Orleans and Rural District 2 Fire Departments will be having a Vehicle Accident Demonstration on the Square. Attendees will have an opportunity to interact and observe local emergency responders in action.

 A special Commemorate Postmark celebrating “Indiana’s Dogwood Capital” will be offered on the opening Saturday, April 21st at the Orleans Post Office.  And other Dogwood 50 type souvenirs will be available to help celebrate the town’s trademark blooms including t-shirts, hats, notecards, magnets, ornaments, license plates, key chains and pins.

Festival organizers have also commissioned an Amish style Dogwood 50th Anniversary Quilt which be displayed throughout the celebration.  Tickets will be available for purchase with one lucky winner selected to receive the special  keepsake quilt on Parade Day.  Proceeds will help offset some of the expenses related to the Dogwood Festival 50th Celebration.

Kick off weekend events will include a reunion of all former Dogwood Queens with a 50th Anniversary tea and reception planned just prior to the 2018 Queen Crowning on Saturday, April 21st beginning at 4 p.m.at Orleans Elementary.   Contact info is still needed for past Dogwood Queens and should be submitted to the Chamber office, 812 865 9930.   

Ashley Cowan is chairing the now combined Dogwood Pageants with Eileen Gilbert as her Co-Chair. This year for the first time ever both the Little Miss and Queen Crowning will also take place on a single day April 21st at Orleans Elementary School. As has become tradition the 2018 “Mr. Dogwood”  will also be named during the intermission for the queen crowning ceremonies. The pageant will begin at 5 p.m.(new start time!) Everyone is welcome!

Opening weekend ceremonies will also include a special community event, “Mayberry Values” featuring entertainment special celebrity guest Rodney Dillard of The Andy Griffith Show.  The program will be Sunday night, April 22nd 7 p.m. at Unity Hall and billed as a wonderful evening of songs, stories, and humor.   The program is free; however a freewill offering will be taken.

 Entertainment lineup has been announced and will include performances by The Honky Tonk Heroes onApril 27th. On April 25th, “Gospel Night” returns with a performance by The Christian Cavaliers with Orleans Christian Church Praise Band. The popular group .50 Caliber takes the main street stage on April 26th.  Immediately following the Parade on April 28th, the Sweetwater Band will close things out.

  The 50th Annual Dogwood Parade is set for  April 28th with 2 p.m. start time and will include a number of anniversary surprises.  Honored guests will include the 2017 Orleans Lady Bulldogs Softball Sectional Champs, and O.H.S. Academic Team.  Spectators will also be treated to a visit from the Monkey Business monster truck, Circle Sidewalk Stompers Clown Band, and area Shriner units.  The civic and business community are being encouraged to participate in the Golden Anniversary Celebration by entering and participating in the Parade this year.  Parade Chairman Randy Clark and Co-Chair Neil Blanton have issued a challenge for everyone to come out and be a part of this special once in a lifetime celebration.

 

The popular Dogwood Baby Contest is back this year and set for April 22nd at a new location the Orleans High School cafeteria.  Also returning is the Orleans Chamber’s Silent Auction scheduled for April 26-28 at Unity Hall.

 

The popular Dogwood Pedal Bike Ride will be returning to this year’s festival line up as well. The ride is set for the morning of April 22st.  Ride details are now available Dogwood Pedal link found on the dogwood website.

 

The Orleans American Legion Warren Brock Post #69 will once again provide the midway, Brady’s Amusement, which will set up and operate the entire week as in the past.  750 of Bracelet Tickets will be made available for purchase prior to festival week and must be purchased in advance. Cost will be $20.

 

  Other festival favorite highlights include the wildly popular Town-Wide Yard Sale, Phi Beta Psi Styles & Salads, quilt show, photo contest, euchre tourney, student art show, the children’s Pet Parade and arts & crafts fair in the park.

 

  The UMC Ham & Bean Supper, Dogwood Art Walk, cub scout Rain Gutter Regatta, and will also all return to the festival lineup.

 

  Vendor applications are still being accepted for arts and craft type vendors to be set up in the park during festival week.  Jenny Hopper and Brandon Deckard are again serving as chairpersons for that event.

 

The Dogwood Committee meeting will meet again on Tuesday, April 17thth 6:30 p.m. at the Orleans Town Hall Community Room.  All event chairmen and/or supporting organizations are urged to attend and/or have a representative present for the planning session so any last minute details can be finalized.

 

To stay up with all the latest Dogwood 50 happenings, entry forms, event chairmen contacts are available on the festival’s new website, www.orleansdogwoodfestival.com.

 

The Orleans Dogwood Festival Face Book page is also being updated regularly with new information for 2018.