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Dogwood Festival drama likely to be resolved before a judge or a jury

Cease and desist, a Superior Court judge tells a former executive director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival


No more accusations: Judge Regina Joe issued a preliminary injunction Monday prohibiting Malia Kalua Allen from saying anything else about Allen’s festival predecessor, Carrie King, on Facebook, TikTok or other social media platforms.

“She made some serious allegations,” Jonathan Strange, the attorney representing King, told the judge at the defamation hearing. “She said Mrs. King was stealing money from the Dogwood Festival, and sponsors. She began to make statements Mrs. King stole money, and she had documentation.”

Strange filed a lawsuit on behalf of King earlier this month asking for a temporary restraining order to curtail further published remarks by Allen. That restraining order, as reported by CityView, was granted April 3 by Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Robbie Hicks.

King was director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival from 2006-2018 before resigning. Allen was the festival director from 2018-2020 before resigning. Sarahgrace Snipes Mitchell was the festival director until resigning after the 2023 Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.

Today, there is no director; the festival is scheduled for April 26-28 at Festival Park and downtown streets. It is being led by board members Jackie Tuckey and Andrew Porter. Other board members, according to Tara Long, who is immediate past board chairwoman, are Randy Scott, Felita Gilliam, Darrell Purcell, and Jesse Baker, who is the board chairman.

Among Allen’s claims are that King also took kickbacks during King’s time as director and was terminated by the board. Allen also claims the board was racist.

‘Absolutely not’

Monday’s evidentiary hearing was conducted via Webex video conference at the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse, where Strange and Allen, who is representing herself, directed questions to King.

“Did you ever steal money from the Dogwood Festival?” Strange asked his client.

No hesitation on King’s part.

“Absolutely not,” King responded.

Strange wanted to know if King ever took “kickbacks” from the festival.

Again, King did not hesitate.

“Absolutely not,” she responded.

Strange asked King if she consumed alcohol during the festival.

“Absolutely not,” King responded about festival operation hours.

Strange ask King if she has ever been investigated for stealing funds from the festival.

“Absolutely not,” King responded. 

King also disputed other accusations by Allen.

“She said I had been asked to leave” by the board, King said in reference to Allen’s claims. “She made accusations not just against me, but everybody on the board, we were racist.”

‘I don’t believe I’ve done anything wrong’

Allen has said her published social media comments were prompted by a CityView story about how the Dogwood Festival was $40,000 in debt after the 2023 festival and how the festival board is facing cutbacks to survive.

Allen told CityView she was frustrated after the story was published and only was venting about the state of the festival, including its finances and future.

“I don’t believe I’ve done anything wrong,” she told CityView’s Lexi Solomon in a story posted on April 5.  

Strange begged her pardon Monday to the judge.

“There are a number of false statements of criminal activity by Mrs. Allen,” Strange told the judge. “We would ask the court to grant a preliminary injunction.”

The judge said Monday’s hearing was not about “trying the case” perse, but as far as the preliminary injunction for Allen to cease and desist, “I’m inclined to do so.”


That’s where this matter stands, although Amanda Martin of the Duke University School of Law’s First Amendment Clinic tells CityView that Judge Robby Hicks initial ruling of the April 3 temporary restraining order should not have been issued in his private chambers but rather in open court. Hence, does the preliminary injunction infringe on Allen’s First Amendment right to freedom of unencumbered speech?

Strange, representing King, did not respond Tuesday to an inquiry about Martin’s take on Allen’s constitutional rights to free speech.

His last word came Monday.

“The  preliminary injunction was granted,” Strange said. “Litigation now proceeds as usual.”  


Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

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fayetteville dogwood festival Judge Regina Joe Malia Kalua Allen Carrie King