WILMINGTON — A beauty queen who has represented North Carolina is taking over as royalty at Wilmington’s premier springtime festival.
Carli Batson will be crowned Queen Azalea as part of the 76th annual N.C. Azalea Festival. The festival has multiple events scheduled for her appearance, including a street fair, parade, garden party, house and garden tours, concerts, and more. It takes place April 12 through the 16.
Batson is a Wilmington native but attended Appalachian State University and graduated with a bachelors in communication studies and a minor in theater arts.
She began performing on Wilmington’s theater scene during youth and continues taking on roles in her spare time. Batson was last seen dancing and acting in “Kinky Boots” at Thalian Hall.
She attended college on scholarships from the Azalea Festival Scholarship Pageant, Miss North Carolina and Miss America. Batson has held many titles, including Miss Wilmington, Miss Greater Sampson County, Miss Cleveland, and Miss North Carolina 2021.
As part of her pageant experience, Batson fundraised for charities and programs across the state. During the 100th Anniversary Miss America Competition, she collected more than $30,000 for the arts initiative Carolina Cares.
Currently, she is employed for the pre-K through 10th grade charter school, American Leadership Academy Coastal.
Batson has long-standing ties to the festival, having served on the Azalea Festival Youth Committee, Princess Court, Queen’s Court, and was an invited guest when she wore the crown for Miss North Carolina.
Her court will be headed by 2023 North Carolina Azalea Festival Princess Avery Braithwaite, who was crowned earlier this month. A junior from John T. Hoggard High School, Braithwaite is vice president of her junior class, executive officer of the Youth Climate Action Coalition and recruitment coordinator for the Azalea Festival Youth Committee. She belongs to the National Honor Society, Give Global, Mock Trial, and Youth and Government and also sings with the Girls’ Choir of Wilmington.
In addition to Braithwaite, the full court consists of Gracie Rogers, Johana Acosta-Castillo, Emory Radford, Madison Joy.
All will be at the queen’s coronation, which kicks off the 75th Azalea Festival on Wednesday, April 12, at 2 p.m.
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