• The Dogwood Festival started in 1973 as a way to celebrate the Dogwoods that had been planted in Shelbyville by Mayor Paul Schmidt between 1938 and 1944.  In 1938, he donated dogwood trees to property owners along Main Street and continued to donate trees to Shelbyville’s citizens until 1944, for a total of 2,048 trees.  The historical celebration was originally chaired by Ms. George Ann Carpenter, a retired teacher who taught in a two-room schoolhouse at Clark Station, and at the Shelbyville Graded School.  In her retirement, she organized the festival, and later exhibited her own work of decorated eggshells and dried pressed flowers. The first exhibitors at the Dogwood Festival were mostly homemakers, but by the late 1970s, artists and craftsmen from around the state showcased their work at the festival. 

    Originally held in downtown Shelbyville, the festival was rained out in 1976, so it was moved to the Shelby County Fairgrounds the following year.  A flea market was also held as part of the festival, in the Village Plaza parking lot. Other activities included puppet shows for the kids, sheep shearing and wool spinning demonstrations, and the Life Singers of Shelbyville gave a concert on the old courthouse steps.  

    You can still see some of the dogwood trees that Mayor Schmidt donated along Main Street today, but sadly, they are reaching the end of their lifespan.  The average dogwood tree only lives approximately 80 years.

     The Shelby County Education Foundation revived the festival in the spring of 2021. They had many reasons for doing so.  First, this is a way to celebrate the community. Second, the Dogwood Festival highlights the arts and education in our community.  Third, we hope to raise money for scholarships for minority students who plan to teach and to give teachers grants to increase learning opportunities for students. Finally, the festival will help to revive the planting of Dogwood trees in Shelby County.

    History provided by Heather Cecil.

    Dogwood Festival planning is underway for April 23rd, 2022! Click HERE to read more and to learn how to participate!