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After two years the Azalea Festival is back, City of Wilmington invests $35,000 to help

At its Tuesday night meeting, Wilmington City Council authorized a $35,000 investment to support the 2022 Azalea Festival Events.

It’s been two years since the Azalea Festival was celebrated due to the pandemic. This year, organizers say the festival will be a community give back event, while also celebrating the 75th anniversary.

The largest festival in the state of North Carolina draws thousands to the City of Wilmington. A study completed in 2011 by UNCW reported that the festival brings in over $50 million annually.

Councilman Luke Waddel says the funds could be used in better ways that would benefit the residents of the community.

“I do have concerns with the City of Wilmington appropriating taxpayer funds for a non government function. I think this may set a precedent for continued funding for the Azalea Festival; they come back year every year,” he said.

Council member Kevin Spears says the city will be making a good investment due to the festival’s economic impact over the years.

“I think it’s a wise investment and it's something that we could easily do and really get a huge return on our investment,” he said.

With the community in mind, the festival will offer tickets priced at $15 or less and provide 400 free tickets to healthcare workers for their hard work during the pandemic.

The Azalea Festival is also asking New Hanover County for $35,000 to help aid in celebrating this big event.

Ashley Brown is from from Houston, TX. She holds a BA in Mass Communication from Sam Houston State University and an MA in Professional Communication and Digital Media from Texas Southern University. Her love of news, radio, and entertainment led her to the field of journalism. As a creative person, she loves the journalistic challenge of putting stories together. And as a future news reporter, she hopes to tell stories that reach and affect people. In her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, journaling, spending time with friends and family, and trying out new brunch places to eat.