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North Carolina Azalea Festival

The Journey Begins: A look into Festival Week with Claire-Emma Britt

On April 3rd, 2019 My journey began as the doors opened into Festival week!! I cannot help but smile as I reminisce on The 2019 Azalea Festival. I am so grateful for every conversation, handshake, and new person I met during those incredibly busy, but special 4 days.

Here is a look into what it was all about:

Wednesday, April 3rd:

Queen Azalea Briana Venskus, Invited Guest Steffnaie Easter and I at the Coronation.

We started off the week at the Queens Coronation held at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater. Our first of many times riding in convoy, and it was so cool!! We walked in surrounded by so many azalea belles, and got to hear the very talented Coastal Christian Chorus. I had the privilege of speaking, and introducing the amazing group of girls that make up my court. I was also a part of crowning our beautiful, strong, and unique Queen Azalea Briana Venskus, AND I wore one of my favorite dresses of the week, thanks to Camille’s of Wilmington. Afterwards, I signed autographs (which i’ve always wanted to do, but never thought it would actually happen), and passed out crowns to little girls. Seeing the way that their eyes light up at my crown and just being someone they look up to has been one of the very best things of this experience.

Then, I went from princess to athlete and drove straight to my soccer game where we won against New Hanover!

Thursday, April 4th:

Thursday kicked off the first full day! It began at The Celebrity Luncheon, where we enjoyed amazing shrimp and grits, and got to listen to the stories of each of our special guests. I was also behind the microphone for a few minutes, thanking my sponsors, the AFYC, volunteers, and telling a little bit about myself. Following the reception, we went straight to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center for the hospital visit. Of course, I had to play with the therapy dogs, and then we sectioned off into groups and visited several patients. Seeing how much they appreciated us adding a special something to their day was so rewarding, and one of the best things I’ve been a part of. Since I plan to explore a career in the medical field, being exposed to this was so special and eye-opening. The final stop of the day was to the Boys and Girls Brigade Club. They welcomed us with so many fun activities: cornhole, ping pong, video games, foosball, and my favorite part- dancing in the gym! By night we were at the Tyler Farr Concert where we ate, danced, sang, and enjoyed some quality country music!

Friday, April 5th:

On Friday I had to whip out the rainboots, which paired with my cute Cocktail dress from Camille’s, definitely made a statement.

My Court and I at the Garden Party

It began at The Ribbon Cutting, which is a tradition that opens up the Cape Fear Garden Club Garden Tour. We mingled indoors and enjoyed decorated cookies and snacks amongst the Queens Court and Special guests. Afterwards, we arrived at The Famous Garden Party! This was my first time going! Although the weather was not ideal, we made a day out of it, and the rainboots and umbrellas made for great pictures and memories. We entered through a tunnel of Summerall guards and witnessed their performance. I took lots of pictures, ate yummy food, and got to see my family there! This day, I learned that everyone walking with umbrellas up is not an easy task when you’re all different heights. The band kept the energy going throughout the entire event, and they even played “My Girl” By the temptations per my request. On the way back to the hotel, we had to make a Starbucks stop, then a nap, and then it was onto the Hank Williams Jr concert! He brought in a great crowd, even in the light, but prolonging rain. My court and I had so much fun hanging under the tent and meeting lots of new faces!

Saturday, April 6th:

Saturday was an early morning- the parade! Our float was BEAUTIFUL. We were so excited to be back in our pageant gowns! Downtown Wilmington is such a special place, and smiling and waving to everyone along the streets is something I will never forget. I cannot express how grateful I am for moments like those.

I had the biggest, brightest smile thanks to Dr. Pless and Renaissance Dental Studio. What an experience that was, and of course, seeing my family following the float the whole way down was entertaining. After the parade, we hopped in the car and went to the coin show, where we spoke to many coin vendors and even got some of our own. Saturday Night at the Patrons Party I wore my favorite gown of the week from Camille’s of Wilmington. The venue was amazing, and I spoke to so many honorable and welcoming people. I am especially thankful to have met and made friends with our wonderful Miss North Carolina Laura Matrazzo, and Miss Asheville Paige Henderson. I had so much fun spending that night celebrating an unforgettable week with my parents.

As the week came to a close and things started to slow down, I was able to reflect on this special week in April that I will cherish forever. Entering back into reality was hard because of how much of a dream the festival was. I am so thankful to The Official Party for being so inclusive of my court and I, and to President Jonathan Hedge and his family for creating such a fun environment. Thank you Mrs. Amy and Mrs. Kande for putting up with us 5 girls and making sure we had snacks, lipstick, bobby pins, advil, and being the best second Moms. A huge shoutout to my Mom for doing my hair everyday, you are the best. My parents beamed with happiness for me throughout the entire week and my family has been the greatest support system. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each person that was involved in the making of that week. I will reminisce about it forever.

Nothing compares to the love I’ve felt, and I consider myself the luckiest 17 year old girl in the world to be able to represent the wonderful Azalea Festival this year. I can’t wait for what’s next 🙂

All my love,

Your 71st Azalea Festival Princess Claire-Emma Britt