Hundreds gathered at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum for live music, local treats and natural beauty for the second annual Azalea Festival, where the locally grown Auburn Series azaleas were sold.
The warm Saturday brought a large number of people from the community out as local vendors sold work and live music billowed through the trees.
With the goal of increasing appreciation for the arboretum, Morgan Beadles, curator of the arboretum, felt the event was a wonderful way to celebrate spring.
As an effort to bring more people to the arboretum, Beadles was pleased with this year’s event and the growth it made from the previous year, almost doubling in its size.
“This year’s turnout has been amazing, we’ve had close to 800 people,” Beadles said. “Each year we are learning more and more about how to improve … but it’s going to be an annual event, and it’s always going to take place the Saturday before Easter.”
The event included a number of local vendors including The LocAL Market, O Town Ice Cream, Dumps Like A Truck and the Amsterdam Cafe food truck.
“I am actually from Auburn,” Beadles said. “A lot of these people I went to high school with now run these businesses. … It’s great to grow up here and then find that your friends are supporting you and each other throughout our life.”
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Beadles said as adults running their own businesses, they can still work together and help each other out. She said planning the event consisted of a couple phone calls one morning given the proximity of her relationship with some of the local vendors.
“This whole event was basically planned within a morning,” Beadles said laughing. “I just called Lauren at The LocAL Market, I called Blake with Amsterdam Café food truck, Whitley with Dumps Like A Truck, I knew Angela with O Town Ice Cream, and we called Ernest who grows our plants.”
Ernest Koone is the president of Lazy K Nursery’s Garden Delights Garden Center in Pine Mountain, Georgia, and was the azalea expert on hand for the event. In addition to helping handle the native plant sale, Koone grows the Auburn Series azaleas.Two hours into the event, the festival had sold out of Aubie and Tiger azaleas. Along with the native azaleas, multiple of the vendors sold out due to the unanticipated high turnout.
“This year we learned we need more than just the two food trucks,” Beadles said due to Amsterdam Cafe food truck selling out of their sweet potato chips in the first two hours of the event, O Town Ice Cream running out of spoons and Dumps Like A Truck selling out twice.
Beadles said next year she and her team will have to anticipate a larger crowd because she believes as long as the weather cooperates, people will continue to attend the event and keep it growing.
“We really expanded the music,” Beadles said in response to adjustments made this year. “Last year, we learned we just wanted more music throughout the day.”
In order to incorporate this, Beadles sought the help of her friend Katy Harper Doss, owner of Here Molly Girl, to help sponsor the sound system for the bands.
Along with community businesses, the Auburn University Museum of Natural History brought live animals to the event for attendees to enjoy and learn more about them.
The arboretum and the natural history museum will join again with the vet school’s department of anatomy, physiology
“We are going to have a big, fun event that day where we will have scavenger hunts and things for the kids,” Beadles said. “Then in the
The event is set to be on Saturday, Oct. 27, in the Davis Arboretum.
As another effort to bring people to the arboretum, Beadles said they will be hosting Trolling: an evening with George Hardy on Friday, April 13.
The event will include Hardy of Alexander City and a screening of his film Troll 2, which is regarded as one of the worst movies of all time, according to Beadles. The event will also screen the award-winning documentary based off of the film and a discussion and Q&A session with Hardy in between viewings.
The arboretum will showcase the completion of their Tiger Giving Day campaign for lighting around the pond by holding a lighting reveal that night.
Reflecting back on the Azalea Festival, Beadles said it was a wonderful day and thanked those who came out and joined together, enjoying the arboretum.
“It’s been a really great, friendly affair,” Beadles
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