April 3-7, 2024



Rise Up: The Crowning of 2016 Miss North Carolina

The feeling you have right after you hear your name called for a title you have worked tirelessly for is indescribable; you know in that moment that all of your hard work has paid off. This weekend at the Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen and Miss North Carolina Pageants, I got to watch two contestants experience this feeling.

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Miss Clayton’s Outstanding Teen, Catherine White, was crowned Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen. For her talent, she performed a tap routine to “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” which awed me and obviously the judges. Congratulations, Catherine! I know you will do a fantastic job promoting the Children’s Miracle Network and representing our state.

A familiar face had the incredible honor of being crowned the 79th Miss North Carolina on Saturday Night. McKenzie Faggart was a member of the Azalea Festival Queen’s Court this past April. She also danced for her talent, performing a lyrical number to “Rise Up.” After she was crowned, I went backstage and congratulated her. On behalf of the Azalea Festival, I  presented her with an official invitation to the upcoming 70th Azalea Festival. She was super excited, and I know we are all looking forward to seeing her there this April. Congratulations McKenzie, and good luck at Miss America – I know you will represent our state well!


Another great thing about Saturday night was that everywhere I turned, I seemed to be running into people from the Azalea Festival. While I was waiting backstage, I ran into Clark Beckham who performed at both the Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen Pageant and Miss North Carolina Pageant. He was one of our Invited Guests this past year, and it was so exciting to see him again. I also saw Dana Reason backstage, a past Miss North Carolina. She is also an Azalea Festival volunteer Committee Chair for the Queen’s Escort Committee! The night continued at the Cardinal Ball where I ran into Paxton Webster, a past Azalea Festival Princess. It was spectacular getting to discuss all the things I have done so far that she did when she was the Princess.  I also encountered four of the Citadel Cadets who were the Queen’s Court escorts this year; they were cheering on their queens that they met during festival week. It is so awesome how the Azalea Festival brings people together!

I would like to extend a special congratulations to Miss North Carolina 2015, Kate Peacock, and Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen 2015, McKenzie Hansley. It was so wonderful getting to meet both of you this year. I know God has phenomenal things in store for you, and I am just waiting to see where he takes you both next.

To the new Miss North Carolina and Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen: you both have a big year ahead, and I know for sure you will represent our state well. Congratulations!

Lilly Kays
2016 North Carolina Azalea Festival Princess


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