Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 24, 2014

Azalea Festival ready to bloom again

VALDOSTA — The annual Valdosta-Lowndes County Azalea Festival is less than two weeks away and organizers promise two days full of arts and crafts, entertainment, food and fun.

Each year, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Azalea Festival seeks a balance between keeping beloved traditions and presenting new attractions.

So visitors can expect to find the popular Frisbee Chasing K-9s again and Wild Adventures presenting activities. Meanwhile, the classic car and bike show move from each having its own day during the weekend to both being held on Sunday. The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show is new this year to the Azalea Festival.

Scheduled for March 8-9 in Drexel Park, across from Valdosta State University as well as Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, the 2014 Azalea Festival will offer inflatable children’s attractions and area bands such as 41South on Saturday and Daddy’s Money on Sunday. There will be a 5K race and a fun run on the Saturday morning, and a Humane Society Pet Contest.

If past numbers and the weather hold, the Azalea Festival attracts an estimated 20,000 people to Drexel Park during its two-day run.

The festival takes its name from the azaleas which densely populate Valdosta. The festival is scheduled annually for early to mid-March when the azaleas should be in full bloom.

Still, the abundance of azaleas gave Valdosta one of its nicknames — the Azalea City, which inspired the idea behind this annual festival.

In 2000, Joanne Griner initiated the Azalea Festival to celebrate Valdosta’s nickname as the Azalea City. The festival would be held in mid-March to highlight both the season when azaleas normally bloom and to emphasize what Valdosta and Lowndes County have to offer year round.

The first Azalea Festival was held in 2001 with about 5,000 people attending. Through the years, it has undergone various formats, including once being a three-day event, a past partnership with VSU, later hours into the evening, etc.

H. Aaron Strickland is the festival’s third executive director.

More information: Visit www.azaleafestival.com

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