North Carolina Azalea Festival

2018 Invited Guests

Adrian Wood
Blogger, Tales of an Educated Debutante

Adrian was born and raised in Eastern NC. She grew up in Rocky Mount and on her resumé, you will find preschool teacher, nanny, children's ski instructor, early interventionist, college professor, early childhood researcher, wife and full-time mama. She and her husband Thomas, who grew up in Raleigh, have lived in Edenton for fourteen years and have three sons and a daughter, from 12 to 4. She began writing in 2016 after a twenty-year hiatus and offers personal glimpses into a life where satire meets truth, faith meets irony, despair meets joy and this educated debutante escapes the laundry and finds true meaning in graceful transparency. She has over 50,000 followers on social media and her blog, Tales of an Educated Debutante, has several million page views per month. In it, she shares the good, the bad and the ugly of a wonderful life which like everyone else's is not an easy path. She shares glimpses of what it is like to be a grieving sister, a mom that feels never quite good enough, a bad juggler of four children and the real deal of being a mother to a little boy with a bright smile who is four years old, with extra special needs.

Victoria Huggins
Miss North Carolina

Victoria Huggins has enjoyed traveling as a professional motivational speaker and vocalist upon request nationwide since the age of seven. She has been honored to represent her community on a variety of television shows including Its Showtime at the Apollo (1998), Star Search (2000), American Idol (Top 100, 2011), and the American Bible Challenge (2014). Because of these and other wonderful opportunities, Victoria has been invited to share her testimony and musical gifts in YMCA’s, schools, fairs, and churches across the country.

On June 24th, 2017, Victoria was crowned the 80th Miss North Carolina. She earned a $20,000 scholarship in addition to being chosen as the recipient of the Dana Reason Quality of Life Award, Preliminary Talent Award, and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Miracle Maker Award. Over the past five years in the Miss North Carolina Organization, Victoria has raised over $50,000 for her personal platform The Alz Project: Alzheimer's Disease Awareness, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and the Miss North Carolina Educational Scholarship Fund. Victoria is an Alzheimer’s Association Ambassador and is a strong advocate of music therapy.

Victoria is a Graduate Student at Johns Hopkins University, studying Government with an emphasis in Political Communication. In 2015, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communication with a Double Minor in Religion and Music. Victoria is grateful for the scholarships earned by the Miss America Organization, her community service efforts, and academic excellence; allowing her to pursue her educational goals debt free. Before capturing the crown, Victoria worked at WECT/WSFX in Wilmington, North Carolina as the Morning News Producer and Reporter. She aspires to be a Political Analyst for a national news network.

Vivian Howard
Chef, The Chef and the Farmer, Benny's Big Time Pizzeria, & Pizzeria, "A Chef's Life" on PBS

Writing a description of yourself is really hard. But under instruction to list the things that make me, me - I'd have to say I'm a first-time author whose young adult self-dreamt of being a writer. I'm the mother of a twin boy and girl who counts her parents among her friends. I'm a strong-willed wife who loves her husband but often struggles to work with him. And I'm a television personality who can't bear to look at herself in pictures. My greatest strengths are fearlessness, creativity, enthusiasm and humor. My most frustrating weaknesses are patience, organization and numbers. I always thought winning awards was for someone else and have been genuinely happy to be named a semifinalist 4  times in a row for James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southeast. But, this past year, I won a JBF award for Best Television Personality and I have to say, winning made me happier than being nominated.