April 12-16, 2023



Experience the “Power of Water” with North Carolina Azalea Festival 2017 Official Artist, Sean D. Ruttkay; Children’s Art Contest and NEW High School Writing Contest Now Open

WILMINGTON, N.C. – Sean D. Ruttkay, local artist and founder of EDA Surf, has been selected as the 2017 North Carolina Azalea Festival Official Artist.

“As the North Carolina Azalea Festival is the most visually spectacular spring celebration in the nation, it is an incredible honor to be assigned to create the official art for the event,” says Ruttkay. “This opportunity of a lifetime is incredible, and I intend on delivering memorable work that represents the magnitude of this Festival that is so important to our state.”

Father, surfer, and artist are some of the labels that come to mind when describing Sean D. Ruttkay. However, it was the label of “dyslexic” in the first grade that Ruttkay was first given.

“Early in my school years, teachers and the community did not think that a person with my level of dyslexia could make it to college,” says Ruttkay. “But growing up with swimming and later finding surfing and surf culture, I believe I was able to work through these barriers and build the life that I had hoped for. And I owe it all to the power of water.”

This desire to be with water and the ocean motivated Ruttkay to graduate both high school and then from college at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. After graduating in 2005, Ruttkay decided to pursue a new, creative path in life, one that was true to his hydro based spirit. He started Elemental Digital Art (EDA Surf) with the mission of spreading the visual power of water to the built environment through art installations.

Sean’s artwork for the North Carolina Azalea Festival, titled “Sea of Spring” represents this visual power of water, and truly emphasizes the natural beauty of our port city. His piece was unveiled Thursday, October 27th at Hanover Seaside Club. Signed, limited editions of “Sea of Spring” are available for sale at the North Carolina Azalea Festival Office for $50.00.

“Like many people here in Wilmingon, my leisure time is spent on or near the water; skiing, boating, swimming or simply enjoying the view, “ says Jean A. Lawler, 2017 North Carolina Azalea Festival President. “Sean did an incredible job of encapsulating the spirit of our coastal community and creating a piece that allows people to experience that in any space. We are fortunate to have his talent showcased at the 70th North Carolina Azalea Festival.”

The Official Art Unveiling also marks the beginning of the North Carolina Azalea Festival Children’s Art Contest; an annual art contest showcasing the amazing artistic talents of the youth in our community. Each year over 300 public, private, and home-schooled elementary and middle school students, grades K-8, submit their artwork to the contest, illustrating the traditions of the North Carolina Azalea Festival that mean the most to them.

The winning artists in both the Elementary and Middle School categories receive various notable prizes, and the schools with the most entries are treated to a visit from the Azalea Festival Official Artist. The deadline for the Children’s Art Contest is January 13, 2017, and the winners will be notified in February. For more information on the contest, please visit our website at ncazaleafestival.org and look under “Events” and “Children’s Art Contest”.

NEW this year, the North Carolina Azalea Festival is introducing a contest for older students: the High School Writing Contest. To enter, students from New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties may submit either a descriptive essay or poem on the following prompt: How does the North Carolina Azalea Festival contribute to or enhance our community of Wilmington, NC? The deadline for the High School Writing Contest is December 2, 2016, and the winners will be notified in January. For more information on prizes, rules, and how to enter, please visit our website at ncazaleafestival.org.

For more details on the Official Art Unveiling, contact North Carolina Azalea Festival Executive Director Alison Baringer at: alison@ncazaleafestival.org or 910-216-9400.

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.

About Presenting Sponsor, Belk, Inc.
Belk, Inc., a private department store company based in Charlotte, N.C., is the home of Modern. Southern. Style. located in 16 Southern states and a growing digital presence. Belk is a portfolio company of Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm based in New York. Belk and www.belk.com offer a wide assortment of national brands and private label fashion apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family along with top name cosmetics, a wedding registry and a large selection of quality merchandise for the home.

Belk offers many ways to connect via digital and social media, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google Plus, and provides exclusive offers, fashion updates, sales notifications and coupons via email or mobile phone text messages. Customers can also download the latest Belk mobile apps for the iPad, iPhone or Android.

The North Carolina Azalea Festival Thanks Its Sponsors

Miller Lite
Hilton Wilmington Riverside
Wells Fargo
Duke Energy
LM Restaurants
Bud Light
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
UNC Wilmington
BB & T
Lowes Foods
Wilmington Health
BlueCross and BlueShield of NC
Coastal Carolina Neonatology/Coastal Children’s Services
MassMutual Financial Group
NewBridge Bank
North Carolina Ports
Parkway of Wilmington
SEPI Engineering & Construction

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