The Annual Azalea Festival once again brought big crowds to Fredericktown for a weekend of music, events and fun in the sun.
The prince and princess, Arik Pacinda and Aleah Grado were crowned Thursday night. The next night, 2017 Azalea Queen Joslyn Schott crowned her successor, Lynsey Gulley, Miss Elaine & Co.
Over the rest of the weekend, the crowds gathered as the warm weather and sunshine welcomed them to enjoy the crafts, food, music, rides and more. Events went ahead with little adjustment or delay with the tractor pull being the most effected by the rain earlier in the week.
“The turnout was excellent and it went really well,” Azalea Board President Jim Thompson said. “This is one of the most trouble free years we have ever had and I can’t thank the Azalea Board members enough for all the work that went into making it go so smoothly.”
Saturday was kicked off with a breakfast sponsored by the Rotary Club at the United Methodist Church from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. At 7:30 a.m., the Fun Run began, bringing runners through the streets of downtown Fredericktown with Colton Wooldridge taking first overall in the 5K.
From Friday afternoon on, there were dozens of arts and craft booths open for business, items ranged from handmade pillows and home decor to custom jewelry and personalized cups.
Some of the largest crowds were to be found congregating around the food and drink vendors, with folks lining up for classic carnival foods and homemade root beer in souvenir glass bottles.
The variety of carnival rides drew children and parents alike to the carnival grounds to slide, spin and soar all weekend long. For those not interested in rides, there was plenty of other entertainment to be found including live music, a petting zoo and carnival games.
At noon, Saturday there was a horse shoe tournament, and although there was a late start to the tractor pulls, the track was packed with onlookers as the drivers lined up their machines and took turns down the dirt track.
Meanwhile at the court square, vintage vehicles collected around the Madison County Courthouse for the Car Showm. Foothills Car Club member Peggy Yount said this was the biggest year she has helped organize with 124 entries and 26 classes. Among the winners was Josh Liley who won Best of Show with his 1951 Ford.
All of the weekend’s events led up to Sunday’s Azalea Parade, which brought floats, horses, trucks, clowns, marchers and hundreds of spectators to crowd the parade route. The men of the Farmington Elks Lodge #1765 with the assistance of the FHS JROTC cadets led the parade, carrying an American flag which filled the width of the street as they came, eliciting cheers and salutes from the crowd.
Beyer Medical Group took the grand prize in the float decorating contest with its “History of Medicine in Madison County” float. The float featured a doctor’s office scene and had actors playing the part of doctor and patient.
The weekend also took notice of service men and women. In addition to the giant flag in the parade, the Capt. Henry Whitener Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution held a wreath laying ceremony to honor the 11 Revolutionary War Patriots who came to Madison County and helped in its founding. Also on display throughout the weekend was the “Remembering Our Fallen Wall.” This exhibit is a photographic memorial which honors all the soldiers from Missouri who have been lost during the War on Terror.
The 2018 Azalea Festival was marked with blue skies, sunshine and plenty of fun for anybody to enjoy in Fredericktown. Thompson said the weather and crowds were more than they could have asked for and are hoping for a repeat next year.
“From the entire Azalea Board we would like to thank the people of Madison County, because without them, we would not have a festival,” Thompson said.
The board meets again May 10 to wrap up this year’s event and begin preparations for 2019.
For more results and several photos of the weekend’s events, check out the B section in this edition of the Democrat News or go to www.democratnewsonline.com
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at firstname.lastname@example.org