Contestants needed or Azalea Dogwood Pageant will be canceled

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- The Azalea Dogwood Festival has been a Wiregrass tradition since 1964, but one part of the celebration might not happen this year.

Ashlyn Simpson was crowned Miss Azalea-Dogwood in 2019. (Source: WTVY)

Each spring in the Garden District neighborhood in Dothan, pink lines mark the route where azaleas bloom the most.

“It's a wonderful reminder of just our southern heritage in terms of the hospitality that we are known for,” says the festival’s president Beth Hemby.

It's also a chance to cherish the change of season.

“Everyone appreciates the blooms, the color and the great weather, and being outside on a spring afternoon,” says Hemby.

A big part of the festival is the pageant.

“We select a queen because we have a group of girls known as the trail belles who sit on the lawn that originated as Charles Taylor’s house. He's the one who started the festival,” says Hemby.

The Azalea Dogwood queen and her court host the annual event.

“We have girls of all ages sitting on lawns. There are lemonade stands and kids selling cookies, people riding bikes. It's just a fun Sunday afternoon.

But, as of now, there are not enough girls signed up to hold the competition.

So, the festival board is extending registration to January 15th with hopes of having at least 5 contestants.

Qualifying for the pageant is simple.

“It's open to high school juniors throughout our area and that's really it,” says Hemby.

Contestants can expect an interview and on-stage question.

“The interview doesn't have anything to do with politics or current events. It's strictly just getting to know them so that they can select someone for us that will represent our organization throughout the year,” says Hemby.

Along with the Azalea Dogwood queen title, the pageant winner will receive a $2,000 college scholarship.

“For what I call a good all-around girl that loves Dothan, loves the Wiregrass area and appreciates her community and wants to serve,” says Hemby.

The pageant is scheduled for February 1st.

If you know a young woman in high school that would be interested you can contact the festival board at azaleadogwoodfestival@gmail.com