East Tupelo hosts Azalea, Hot Air Balloon festivals

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Due to an early spring, there won’t be many azaleas to view at this year’s Azalea Festival, but the show will go on as planned.
“We’ve had a self-guided azalea tour for about two weeks now,” said Keith Henley, chairman of the 2012 Presley Heights Azalea Festival. “The azaleas now are almost finished with their blooming, but we can’t help that. The festival is always the second weekend in April.”
Once again, the azalea festival will pair with the Up, Up and Away Hot Air Balloon Festival. Both events take place today and Saturday at Veterans Park in east Tupelo.
Activities include arts and crafts, musical entertainment, hot air balloons, tethered balloon rides, rock wall climbing, inflatables, azalea vendors, food, 5K run and pancake breakfast, antique car show and Azalea Bud Pageant.
Admission is $5 per person each day and children 3 and under are admitted free.
“There are many things to do for that $5,” said Rachel Becker, coordinator of the balloon festival. “There’s an XBox/Video Game Trailer, rock wall climbing, inflatables, shaped balloons for the children, an antique car show and lots of entertainment. There are bands all night Friday and all day and night Saturday.”
There are also some activities that require a fee, such as a bungee vendor, pony rides, a petting zoo, an azalea walk (similar to a cake walk) a 5K run and tethered balloon rides, weather permitting.
There are also lots of arts and crafts vendors.
“We’ll have everything from homemade picture frames, all types of pottery, candles, children’s clothes and books to door hangings and glow-in-the-dark beads and glasses,” Becker said.
Balloon glows are scheduled for dusk on Friday and Saturday, weather permitting.
Food, yard art, more
There will also be lots of food available for purchase, such as barbecue, hotdogs, hamburgers, snowcones, homemade ice cream, chicken-on-a-stick, funnel cakes, corndogs, homemade lemonade and all types of ethnic foods.
“We had more than 4,500 people last year and I’m expecting 6,000 to 8,000 this year,” Becker said. “We dropped the price of admission to $5 per day this year so it will be more affordable for families, because this is all about family fun.”
All proceeds from the weekend go to the Presley Heights Neighborhood Association and Tupelo Christian Preparatory School.
Henley noted that even though the azaleas have petered out, there are still lots of reasons for gardeners to attend the event.
“Lakefront Nursery will be there selling azaleas and other shrubbery and giving advice,” he said. “And vendors will have lawn and garden accessories, yard art, ornamental iron and birdhouses. And even though the azaleas aren’t blooming, we will have little azalea buds in the Azalea Bud Pageant on Friday night.”
ginna.parsons@journalinc.com

Bring the Family
WHAT: Azalea Festival and Up, Up and Away Hot Air Balloon Festival.

WHEN: Today from 5 to 9:30 p.m., and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Veterans Memorial Park in east Tupelo.

ACTIVITIES: Arts and crafts, musical entertainment, hot air balloons, tethered balloon rides, rock wall climbing, inflatables,
azalea vendors, food, 5K run and pancake breakfast, antique car show and Azalea Bud Pageant.

ADMISSION: $5 per ticket, children 3 and under free.

INFO: Call (662) 213-5599 or visit wwwupupnawayfest.info or
www.presleyheights.com.