By Lena Moriarty
Donning the very same crown worn by her predecessors, the 71st North Carolina Azalea Festival got underway Wednesday with the coronation of this year’s queen, Beth Troutman.
The annual festival is a celebration of Wilmington’s exceptional artwork, gardens, rich history and culture during its five days of pageantry. Troutman is an Emmy Winning Television Personality turned Motivational Speaker. She spent nearly 20 years in the Television Industry working both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. She has hosted local and nationally syndicated TV shows and has appeared on The Today Show, Extra, HLN, Home & Family, Good Day New York, Good Day LA and Good Day Chicago.
This year the city is hosting a wide range of events that are estimated to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.
On Thursday, April 12, Billy Currington with Drake White and the Big Fire and Kenton Bryant are performing at the Azalea Festival Main Stage 7 p.m. The Georgia native is best known for singles such as Good Directions, Let Me Down Easy and Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right.
Friday begins the Waterfront Street Fair on North Water Street. The fair will showcase over 250 vendors selling goods ranging from homemade crafts to commercial products. There will also be a variety of food vendors serving up traditional fair foods as well as specialty foods like tacos, lobster rolls and BBQ.
The After Garden Get Down starts Friday at 2 p.m. at the Bluewater Grill following the Azalea Luncheon Garden Party.
Later on Friday night 38 Special with Tuesday’s Gone is performing at the Azalea Festival Main Stage in downtown Wilmington beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday morning kicks off with the MGC Parade Mile beginning at 8:30 a.m. followed by the 71st annual North Carolina Azalea Festival Parade.
The Waterfront Street Fair continues on into Saturday with additional events taking place throughout the day. A classic car show features unique automobiles that are part of the local British Motor Club of the Cape Fear and the Cape Fear Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America and will be located at the corner of Market & Second Streets both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday begins the Street Fair Music and Beer Garden with free entry and drinks for purchase featuring local musicians for entertainment.
Beginning Saturday is the Children’s Area which features fun and educational games, crafts and interactive demos and exhibits. The area will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Also happening Saturday is the Riverwalk Shag Contest on the Banks of the Cape Fear River. Going from 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., the event features DJ Fred Rouse and DJ Mike Worley and costs $10.00 to enter the contest.
An Old School Concert is happening Saturday afternoon from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater featuring music from The Ying Yang Twins, Chubb Rock, the Hamiltones and Special Guest Othaz Records.
Later that night rapper Ludacris takes center stage at 7 p.m., with opening act Childish Major at the Azalea Festival Mainstage. Ludacris is best known for hits such as Southern Hospitality, Diamond in the Back and The Fast and Furious movie series.
Saturday night wraps up with a fireworks display over the Cape Fear River starting at 9 p.m.
Sunday kicks off with morning yoga on the river beginning at 9:00 a.m. at Water Street between Market and Princess Street at Riverfront Park The Waterfront Street Fair with instructor Chloe Mackenzie combining hip-hop and yoga on the Multicultural Stage.
The Waterfront Street Fair continues into Sunday afternoon with a variety of shows happening throughout the day.
Other events happening this weekend include the 65th annual Azalea Garden Tour presented by the Cape Fear Garden Club and tours of the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence both from April 13 to 15.
The ship is located at 109 N. Water St. and will be open to the public for tours Friday, April 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday, April 14 from noon to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The interactive tours will feature exhibits highlighting maritime navigation, shipboard engineering, deck seamanship, law enforcement, life at sea, and shipboard damage control response.
The Diligence crew will also be marching in the Azalea Festival Parade in downtown Wilmington, Saturday, April 14, at 9:30 a.m.
The Boxing Tournament and Coin Show are also happening this Saturday and Sunday. The coin show features more than 30 dealers from several surrounding states to appraise, buy, sell and trade coins, currency and other numismatic items. The Boxing Tournament showcases some of the finest boxers from the National and International level of competition and from the military branches.