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WILMINGTON — The North Carolina Azalea Festival organizers are offering young students a chance to be part of a 70-year tradition and hope they’ll be part of the next 70 years.
The Children’s Art Contest, founded in 2010, asks students to provide an artistic answer to the question: “what does the Azalea Festival mean to you?” The contest, originally open to elementary school students in Cape Fear area, expanded in 2013 to include students in middle school and is now open to K-8 students nationwide.
“To date we have been targeting North Carolina and more specifically the immediate three-county area,” said Alison Baringer, the Festival’s executive director, adding, “but as the Festival continues to grow we want to make sure we have a platform for all children and high school students to get involved. We know that many families travel from all over North Carolina and even outside of North Carolina to enjoy the annual Azalea Festival; we want to see what types of experiences these children and young adults are having as well. We have had entries from children from the coast to the mountains who visit the Festival once and want to show how much fun they had. We welcome all entries!”
The contests were inspired by Festival’s history, but also have an eye on the future.
“The North Carolina Azalea Festival is fortunate to have 70 years of history behind us,” said Baringer. “That’s 70 years of citizens getting behind the Festival to volunteer, sponsor, attend, and just generally giving their support. We know in order to be around for another 70 years we are going to need the support of the next generation.”
Baringer also highlighted the Festival’s need to pass the torch from one generation of community volunteers to the next.
“Showing children early on that they too can be involved in an event of this magnitude, and that their voice has a place, is so important to instill in them a love of their community. It is our hope that this love of their community, and of the Azalea Festival, will manifest itself into joining our Azalea Festival Youth Committee and eventually lead them into roles as volunteers and supporters of the Festival and other community events as they become adults.”
While contest winners will receive traditional prizes – including gift cards to iTunes and Learning express, and a chance to present their artwork to the Governor at a special press conference – the contest organizers stress that the lasting value of winning, and even just participating, in the contest is the chance to get involved with the community.
The Azalea Festival Children’s Art Contest is open for submissions until Jan. 13, 2007, with winners announced by late February. Entry forms for both elementary and middle school students can be found here, as well as complete contest rules and prize information. The 2017 Azalea Festival kicks off on April 5, 2017, in downtown Wilmington.