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Star-Studded Line-up Set For 2015 North Carolina Azalea Festival

March 19, 2015

WILMINGTON, NC — Let the fanfare begin as notable celebrities bring their star power to the Port City for the 68th North Carolina Azalea Festival. This year’s Festival will include appearances by Beth Stovall, Dan Hampton, Jacqueline White Anderson, Julia Dalton, Meg Caswell, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Casey Jennings, and Skai Jackson. Reigning over the Festival will be the Azalea Festival Queen, Mallory Hagan. Festival celebrities are scheduled to attend all events throughout the five-day celebration of spring unless otherwise noted.

Azalea Festival Queen Mallory Hagan

Instagram: @itsmalloryhagan Twitter: @TheMalloryHagan

“Be Kind. Be Courageous. Be You.” This became Hagan’s mantra during her reign as Miss America 2013 and continues to be her philosophy today. Through her participation in the Miss America Organization, she found her passion in advocacy, most specifically for education in regard to child sexual abuse. Hagan has also become a voice for confidence, self-acceptance and body image. Hagan has been featured on national television shows such as Good Morning America, The View, Wendy Williams, and Anderson Cooper, as well as hundreds of local news sources.

Hagan works with several national and local organizations such as Safe Horizon, Prevent Child Abuse America, and is one of the national spokeswomen for the World Be Free Campaign. In New York, Mallory volunteers with several other service organizations such as City Chicks 4 Charity, No Kid Hungry and God’s Love We Deliver.

While serving as Miss America, Hagan was recognized as an Influential Woman at the 2013 Forbes Women’s Summit. Hagan was the only student in the history of the Fashion Institute of Technology to receive the Presidential Award while enrolled, and she continues her education utilizing her Miss America Scholarship while pursuing opportunities to influence others through media platforms.

Miss North Carolina Beth Stovall

Instagram: @BethStovall   Twitter: @BethStovall

Before winning the title of Miss North Carolina, Goldsboro native Beth Stovall was a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington majoring in vocal performance. While at UNCW, Beth received the People Helping People Scholarship, and was a Dean’s List student, a member of the Honors College, Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, as well as a mentor. Most recently, Stovall was awarded a Non-Finalist Talent Award at the 2015 Miss America Pageant.

Stovall’s “Art and Soul” platform aims to inspire students to explore and discover their talents. Having collaborated with local arts councils and schools, she plans to partner with the North Carolina Arts Council and schools statewide to help foster and promote education, funding, and support for the arts in public schools.

New York Times Best-selling Author and Former Fighter Pilot Dan Hampton

Retired United States Air Force Colonel Dan Hampton is one of the most decorated fighter pilots since the Vietnam War. The recipient of a Purple Heart and four Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor, he rescued a surrounded U.S. Marine unit from certain death, flew the first plane over the border during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and helped to secure American airspace on 9/11.

In his New York Times international best-selling autobiography, Viper Pilot: Memoir of Air Combat, he recounts his experiences as a fighter pilot; from earning wings to surviving combat as a Wild Weasel — the most dangerous job in air combat. He also published two best sellers, The Mercenary: A Novel and Lords of the Sky: How Fighter Pilots Changed War Forever, From the Red Baron to the F-16. His next book, The Hunter Killers, will be released in June 2015.

Colonel Hampton is currently the CEO of MVI International, a private military company. He has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Bill O’Reilly, Hannity, and Anderson Cooper as an analyst. Among other interesting facts, he speaks French and Arabic, climbed the Pyramids, explored Petra, and ran with the bulls in Pamplona.

Actress and First Azalea Festival Queen Jacqueline White Anderson

Jacqueline White Anderson, the beautiful and charming actress of the 40’s and 50’s, was also the first Azalea Festival Queen in 1948. Her acting credits include more than 27 films, including Crossfire starring Robert Mitchum and Robert Young, The Narrow Margin, a classic of film noir whose screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, and Air Raid Wardens starring the comic team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

Her star power and box office appeal undoubtedly set the standard of timeless class, grace, and elegance for the following North Carolina Azalea Festival Queens and their Courts.

Anderson will play a special role during the Festival by crowning Mallory Hagan at the Queen’s Coronation, and will also be in attendance at the Celebrity Reception on Thursday.

Miss North Carolina USA Julia Dalton

Instagram: @juliabdalton Twitter: @RealMissNCusa

Representing North Carolina at Miss USA has been a life-long dream for Wilmington native Julia Dalton. Dalton is a graduate of High Point University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. She served as the president of Kappa Delta sorority, a resident advisor and supplementary instructor in statistics.

n addition to modeling, performing and speaking, she works at PPD as a coordinator and plans to combine her health and wellness expertise with the Miss North Carolina USA platform to educate and inspire Americans to live long, vital and happy lives.

Dalton will be joining the Festival’s events on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

HGTV Star and Interior Designer Meg Caswell

Instagram: @megcaswellstyle Twitter: @MegCaswell

Meg Caswell is the host of HGTV’s hit show Meg’s Great Rooms. She recently completed 18 episodes since becoming the sixth season winner of the network’s Design Star series, and is currently in the process of opening her own home store “5th & Castle” in downtown Wilmington. The Chicago native is also a regular contributor to WGN and Windy City Live on ABC and has starred in half a dozen specials and guest judge spots on the HGTV network. Caswell’s Palm Beach chic style is described as a preppy mix of modern and traditional and her hallmark is her determined, direct and high-energy personality.

Caswell began her career in criminology, but opted out of law school in exchange for an education in interior architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago. She began her design career at Ralph Lauren Home and opened a design firm and home decor store in Chicago.

Azalea Festival Artist Clyde Edgerton

Clyde Edgerton took up oil painting after discovering the art of Chip Hemingway. He enjoys plein air painting of landscapes and is beginning to work with human faces, human form, and abstraction. He has published ten novels, a memoir, and a nonfiction book about fatherhood. At UNCW, where he is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing, he teaches fiction and nonfiction writing as well as—currently—a course on literature, race relations, community, and culture in the South. He lives in Wilmington with his wife, Kristina, and their three children, Nathaniel, Ridley, and Truma.

Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings

Instagram: @kerrileewalsh Twitter: @kerrileewalsh

Kerri Walsh Jennings is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and currently holds the all-time record for career tournament victories by a female beach volleyball player, with 113 career wins. She is the second volleyball player in NCAA history to be named a four-time First-Team All-American.

After graduating from Stanford in 2001, Jennings moved her game to the beach and partnered with Misty May-Treanor. The duo went on to be considered the greatest beach volleyball team of all time, winning three straight Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, and 2012). A long list of other notable accomplishments include Associated of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) best offensive player of the year (2003), two-time AVP MVP (2003, 2004), Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) best offensive player and most outstanding player (2007), two-time Sports Woman of the Year (2004, 2006) and three-time world beach volleyball champion (2003, 2005, 2007).

Kerri Walsh Jennings will be joining the Festival at the Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour Ribbon Cutting, the Airlie Luncheon Garden Party, and the Parade.

Professional Beach Volleyball Star Casey Jennings

Instagram: @caseytjennings Twitter: @caseythomasj

Casey Jennings is an American professional beach volleyball player. Graduating from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, he also served as a member of the NCAA National Championship team in 1999. Casey competed in a long list of FIVB and AVP tournaments finishing first place seven times, and won his first Manhattan Open Tournament in 2013. Additionally, Casey was awarded AVP most improved player in 2002, 2003, and AVP best defensive player in 2003.

Casey Jennings will be joining the Festival at the Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour Ribbon Cutting, the Airlie Luncheon Garden Party, and the Parade.

Disney Star Skai Jackson

Instagram: @skaijackson Twitter: @skaijackson

Jackson is known best for her role as Zuri Ross on the popular Disney Channel sitcom Jessie. The 12-year-old actress has also starred in Boardwalk Empire, Arthur, The Smurfs, Royal Pains and the animated Disney series Ultimate Spider Man.

She was in the cast of characters for the Nickelodeon preschool animated series Bubble Guppies, voicing the character of Little Fish. Her first major acting role was in the independent film Liberty Kid, which lead to other roles for the young star in The Rebound and Rescue Me.

Jackson will be joining the Festival at the Parade and for a Street Fair Meet and Greet on Saturday, April 11 from 1 pm- 3:30 pm.

To catch a glimpse of all you can experience at the North Carolina Azalea Festival, check out this short VIDEO.

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 celebrities as well as the schedule of events for the 68th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, visit www.ncazaleafestival.org.