A Fox News personality who began her career here in Wilmington is returning to the Port City next month as the 2016 N.C. Azalea Festival’s queen.
Festival organizers announced today that Anna Kooiman will wear the coveted crowd during this year’s festivities. The “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host and general assignment reporter for the Fox News channel started out in broadcast journalism as a sideline sports reporter at UNC-Wilmington.
In 2005, Kooiman joined the team at WWAY, where she worked for two years before moving on in her climb to her current New York City gig.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring Anna back…,” Azalea Festival president Robby Collins said. “It’s great that her career started right here in Wilmington, and over the last few years has made it to the highest level of journalism. I’m proud to be able to give the honor of Queen Azalea to someone with ties to our city, and know she will represent the festival and Wilmington well.”
Kooiman’s coronation ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, the first day of the weeklong fest. This year, the Azalea Festival committee is staging the ceremony for the first time at Port City Marina in northern downtown.
In the months leading up to the spring event, organizers have announced a trio of headlining musical acts, including indie folk band The Avett Brothers, country singer Chase Rice and iconic rapper Snoop Dogg.
Thursday, the festival committee announced a list of celebrities and notable guests joining Kooiman for the parade and other appearances.
This year’s lineup includes retired four-star U.S. Army General Dan McNeill – a Vietnam veteran who stood before his retirement as the highest ranking U.S. General in the country – and “Good Times” actress Bern Nadette Stanis, who is also an author and Alzheimer’s advocate.
Rising star Brec Bassinger from Nickelodeon’s “Bella and the Bulldogs” will be in town for the festivities, as will “American Idol” Season 14 runner-up Clark Beckham. Beckham will also perform live on the street fair stage at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 9.
Authors Tony Tata – who is also a former N.C. Secretary of Transportation – and the Tarheel state’s own Kristy Woodson Harvey are slated to pop up at various events throughout the festival, as is Roxy Te, the owner and creative force behind furniture company and lifestyle brand Society Social.
For more information and a full schedule, visit the Azalea Festival’s website.