By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Azalea Festival organizers were worried spring weather wouldn’t arrive in time for the annual event, but the sun was out and the breeze was cool Saturday at Veterans Park.
“We were worried early in the week because of the weather, but Friday the weather broke and we had a good crowd Friday night and a phenomenal crowd today,” said Keith Henley, president of the Presley Heights Neighborhood Association.
Veterans Boulevard was packed with families enjoying the weather, playing softball and attending the annual festival.
“This is our opportunity to showcase east Tupelo and the Presley Heights area,” said Henley. “It’s a family-friendly event to bring people out to socialize and kick off the spring and summer seasons.”
In past years the festival was a paid event, held in conjunction with the Up, Up and Away Festival, but this year the neighborhood association held it on its own and waved the admission fee. The festival featured inflatable games, food and craft vendors and live music and entertainment.
A new event was added to this year’s schedule – a push-mower race in conjunction with the Bark Park – and Henley said he wants it to continue annually.
Participants are blindfolded and must push a lawn mower through an obstacle course, while teammates shout directions.
“We took the motors off, of course, to reduce liability,” Henley said. “This is something we hope to turn into a benefit to raise money for the dog park.”
For some families, this was the first Saturday with weather nice enough to bring the family out.
“When I drove by and saw them setting up yesterday, it looked like a very fun activity, so I decided to bring my boys,” Roslyn Hunter said, while her son Trenton Hunter jumped in the inflatable obstacle course.
“The weather is nice – not too hot – and it’s a good atmosphere. We’ve enjoyed it,” she said.