Azalea Fest ushers in spring

Azalea Festival
Saturday from 6:30 a.m. until …
Veterans Memorial Park in Tupelo
For more information, to enter the 5K race or to become a vendor, contact (662) 844-4485.

TUPELO – The ninth annual Azalea Festival starts early Saturday with a multi-family yard sale and continues throughout the day with entertainment and activities.
The free festival is hosted by the Presley Heights Neighborhood Association to raise funds for beautification efforts in the east Tupelo area throughout the year. It’s held in the parking lot on the north end of Veterans Memorial Park.
“It’s a great civic event that offers something for the whole family,” said Keith Henley, who organized the entertainment. “And it gives us an opportunity to showcase our neighborhood.”
New this year is a 5K run that will start at 8:30 a.m., followed by a 10 a.m. military ceremony honoring veterans. Former prisoner of war Carlyle S. “Smitty” Harris will be the featured speaker at that event.
Live entertainment begins a half hour later with more than a half-dozen performers scheduled to sing and play music well into the afternoon. Artists include Kay Bain, the Partlow Drummers and Elvis Presley tribute artist Dale Rushing, among others.
Vendors will be selling crafts, plants, food, soft drinks and other items throughout the day. And a variety of activities will be available for the kids, including a rock-climbing wall, video-game van, kite flying and inflatable jumping stations.
For those who can’t wait until Saturday, the Azalea Tour is already available. It’s a route through east Tupelo where people can view some of the city’s most stunning azalea blooms. Maps are available at the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum and at other participating merchants.
“We started the festival to bring more people from Tupelo and Lee County to one location to have fun and fellowship,” said association member and Ward 5 City Councilman Bill Martin. “And we try to improve the quality of life in our region.”

Emily Le Coz/Daily Journal