Azalea Festival draws thousands to Valdosta - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Azalea Festival draws thousands to Valdosta

By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Spring hasn't quite sprung yet, but the Azalea's in Valdosta are blooming.

This weekend as many as 35,000 people were expected in the Azalea city for the 9th annual Azalea Festival.

"It's the most vendors we've ever had 158, and I'm sure Saturday broke an attendance record," said Joanne Griner, Festival Founder.

The Azalea festival is something Griner helped start 9 years ago.

"People said we need to have an Azalea Festival," said Griner.

"When we started off this festival we were basically a very small show, with four food vendors in the middle and we've had about 20 crafters on each side," said Alan Davis.

Alan Davis is one of the original Vendors and is now on the event board.

Organizers say Drexel Park is near capacity, filled with arts, crafts, food vendors, and other activities.

"Now we're up to almost maximum capacity on both sides of the park as far as vendors," said Davis.

With close to a decade of success organizers say they must be doing something right.

"We've had people that came here that have never been here before, they live right here and can't believe how big and nice it is," said Davis

With the benefit from this weekend's turnout still to be determined it has come a far way since their humble beginnings of five to eight thousand visitors.

"We were pleased with that response and I think we made a profit $38.57 the first year and we were very pleased with that at the time," said Griner.

For the time being the festival doesn't seem on slowing its growth.

Organizers say the Festival was so successful they've already picked out next year's dates.

They say mark your calendars for March 13th and 14th in 2010.

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