Two festivals become one in Tupelo

TUPELO – Hot air balloons will soar over next year’s Azalea Festival as two annual events combine into one giant family weekend.
Organizers of the Azalea Festival and the Up Up and Away Festival announced their merger at a press conference Thursday at Veterans Memorial Park. About two dozen people attended the conference, including the Chick-fil-A cow, who floated above the crowd in a multicolored hotair balloon.
“Both festivals are going to be even bigger and better,” said Rachel Becker of Tupelo Christian Preparatory School, which organized the first balloon festival earlier this year at Ballard Park.
The new joint event – called Azalea Festival Welcomes Up, Up and Away Hot Air Balloons to Veteran’s Park – will take place April 8-9 and feature live music, children’s activities, food, vendors, a 5k run, hotair balloon races and a science project for school children.
“The park will be filled with lots of activities,” said Keith Henley of the Presley Heights Neighborhood Association, which organizes the annual Azalea Festival.
About two dozen hot air balloon operators are expected to participate, and many will light their craft in the evenings – a practice called “glowing.”
The weekend event could draw as many as 10,000 people, Becker said.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal