Joyce Marie Taylor
Jasper — The 13th Annual Wild Azalea Festival drew hundreds of visitors to the historic town of White Springs on Saturday, March 16.
It was a full day of excitement and the entire town was a jamming as they experienced a wide variety of local musical entertainment, craft demonstrations, an assortment of food and craft vendors, the Birds of Prey exhibit at the entrance to the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, a childrens' play area, the H.O.P.E. Program University of Florida video display, a pancake breakfast, silent auctions, a duck race, and so much more.
The day started out a bit chilly, but as the sun rose in the baby blue, cloudless sky it warmed up to a pleasant 70 or so degrees. The throng of visitors who arrived began browsing the town to experience all the activities going on throughout the day. The majestic Suwannee River looked like polished glass as viewed from the top of the old spring house, which had a few feet of water in it as the river waters eased in, thanks to recent rains.
Something new at the Wild Azalea Festival this year was the addition of the Plein Air artists from Suwannee County, who were set up at different spots around town showcasing their talents. Cathy Willson was on the bridge painting the river and spring house, Judith Adams was staked out in the parking lot of the Nature and Tourism Center with a birds-eye view of the Adams Country Store and John Rice was nestled in a shaded area among the wild azaleas. All of them created their masterpieces as visitors watched in awe.
Original Highwayman artist R.L. Lewis was inside the Nature and Tourism Center with his paintings on display and he enjoyed chatting with folks as they admired his amazing works of art.
Speaking of the Adams Country Store, owner Raymond Cheshire had the establishment opened up and visitors were in and out all day marveling at all the historic antiques inside.
All the kids in attendance during the day enjoyed the balloon art and many of them paraded through town with their specially made balloon figures propped on top of their heads.
As the day moved along and the blazing sun shot the temperature up, many made a bee line to the ice cream vendor for their favorite sweet treat to cool off.
The day's events wound up with the crowning of Little Miss Azalea 2013-14 Brylee Thompson.
Be sure to watch the video for a sampling of the day's musical entertainment.