Presley Heights prepares for 5th Annual Azalea Festival

What: 2005 Azalea Festival
When: Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m.
Where: Veterans Park in east Tupelo
Activities: Music, food, fishing rodeo, 5K run, bake sale, arts and crafts and azalea plant sale
Admission: Free
Info: Call 841-6521 or 841-8653

BY GINNA PARSONS
Daily Journal

TUPELO – It's that time of year again, when east Tupelo is awash in azalea blooms and neighborhood streets are filled with Sunday drivers enjoying the scenery.

On Saturday, there'll be even more activity as the area gears up for the 5th Annual Azalea Festival at Veterans Park. The day promises fun for everyone, with a 5K Azalea Fun Run and Walk, a veterans' program, a classic car run, horse and carriage rides, arts and crafts vendors, live music, lots of food, a bake sale and a fishing rodeo.

“Last year's festival was a dud,” said Betty Tindall, president of the East Heights Garden Club. “It poured down rain. We thought we were going to have to call it off.”

This year, organizers are hoping the weather holds and that thousands turn out for a day of good family fun.

“We'll also be selling azaleas – several different varieties,” Tindall said. “There'll be someone there to tell you how to grow them but they're really easy. I've got 500 or 600 myself, some of them 40 years old. As long as you keep them watered, they'll grow.”

The Azalea Festival is the highlight of the neighborhood's annual Azalea Tour, which runs through the end of the month. The nine-mile driving tour includes 101 homes in east Tupelo and dozens of species of azaleas.

Maps for the tour are available at BancorpSouth, Peoples Bank, Elvis Presley Birthplace, Community Development Foundation, Tupelo City Hall, the Natchez Trace Visitors Center, Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Welcome Center in Fulton and most retail stores in east Tupelo.

While the Azalea Tour officially began April 1, people usually start driving the route when the shrub's colorful blooms first start to open, Tindall said.

“I think the azaleas are going to be right pretty this year,” she said. “They already seem to be.”