WILMINGTON, N.C. – The North Carolina Azalea Festival celebrated its 70th anniversary three weeks ago with beautiful weather and yes, even blooming azaleas. As the largest Festival of its kind in the state, the Azalea Festival is dependent on a base of dedicated, professional, and passionate volunteers. These volunteers have most recently been honored by the State of North Carolina with the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award.
The Governor’s Volunteer Service Award honors the true spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service. Award selections are based on the nominee’s volunteer efforts and commitment of time, accomplishments, community impact and enhancement of the lives of others.
Volunteers with the Azalea Festival log over 15,000 hours which translates to an estimated value of $438,000 each year. While volunteers are asked to commit to the Festival for one year, the majority of volunteers remain for years, even decades – this truly is a testament to the passion of community members and volunteers who make the Azalea Festival a possibility year after year. Many of the North Carolina Azalea Festival Committee members have been serving with the Festival for 20, 30, and even 50 years. While positions open each year and are filled by new individuals, many volunteers continue chairing or co-chairing committees for several years. One example of longevity is the 2017 Azalea Festival President, Jean A. Lawler, who has served 57 years with the North Carolina Azalea Festival since her start in 1960.
Just this year the Azalea Festival initiated a Volunteer Emeritus Program, honoring volunteers whom have served in a chair or co-chair position for ten or more years. In its inaugural year, the Azalea Festival initiated seventeen volunteers into this program.
“The Governor’s Volunteer Service Award is an indication that we have a unique and thriving volunteer program, and that’s something I am so proud to be a small part of,” says Lawler. “One of my favorite aspects of the Festival is witnessing the generational cohesiveness that stems from grandparents being involved and then parents, children, siblings…it truly becomes a ‘Festival Family’ celebrating the city that we love.”
Staging the Azalea Festival – every year for 70 years – is a real community effort, and everyone who works on, participates in, or simply enjoys the Festival can be proud of these honors.
The Azalea Festival will be recognized in Raleigh on May 8th for this prestigious honor.
To volunteer with the 2018 North Carolina Azalea Festival, click here to sign up. Check the “How To Get Involved” box, and we will notify you when the 2018 Volunteer Registration is open. Volunteer opportunities may be available for a single day or involve a year-round commitment. The level of involvement you choose depends on your interests and availability. We will work to get you involved in a way that you find both meaningful and enjoyable.
About the North Carolina Azalea Festival
Since its inception in 1948, the North Carolina Azalea Festival has blossomed into an extended weekend celebration that attracts more than 300,000 people and generates more than $51 million for the local economy. The Festival showcases our community’s rich array of artwork, gardens, history and culture through recreational, educational and family-oriented events.
For more information on the upcoming 71st Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, visit www.ncazaleafestival.org or contact Executive Director Alison Baringer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (910) 216-9400.
The North Carolina Azalea Festival thanks its 2017 sponsors:
Hilton Wilmington Riverside
Wilmington Convention Center
Hawthorne Residential Partners
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
Coastal Children’s Services
Piedmont Natural Gas
BlueCross and BlueShield of NC
North Carolina Ports
Parkway of Wilmington
Port City Java
RV Transportation Provided by Rex and Sons RV’s