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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The granddaughter of a Hollywood legend making a name for herself in Nashville, will reign over this year's Azalea Festival. Jennifer Wayne, the granddaughter of John Wayne will serve as Queen Azalea, festival organizers announced this morning.

Wayne will be crowned during a ceremony along the Wilmington riverfront on Wednesday, April 10 at 3 p.m. You can watch it live on WWAY NewsChannel 3.

She will be joined by several celebrities, including one of two men who knows what it's like to skydive from the edge of space, a contestant who brought the hit show The Bachelorette to North Carolina, a world-class surfer, a college basketball great, Miss North Carolina, a pair of Hollywood starlets and a former Azalea Festival Belle who's hitting it big on the Golf Channel.

The festival also announced that Gov. Pat McCrory will serve as marshal for the Azalea Festival Parade on Saturday, April 13.


As if it isn't cool enough that this siren was born into Hollywood royalty—she's the granddaughter of film icon John Wayne—she was blessed with talent all her own. Yes, she was a nationally ranked tennis player before pursuing a music career and no, she isn’t alone. She was discovered by Merv Griffin and moved to Nashville where she joined a band. Her beautiful voice and background blends perfectly with the trio she completes with artists Tayla Lynn (granddaughter of Loretta) and Caroline Cutbirth (a Daniel Boone descendent). Together, they make up Stealing Angels—and this hot girl group is mixing up their distinct sound and put out an album that might make Jennifer and her band mates almost as famous as their iconic ancestors. Jennifer wrote nine of the 13 songs on their debut album and has also had her songs recorded by American idol winner Taylor Hicks, and Grammy-nominated artist Eric Paslay. Aside from her music, she is currently on the Emmy Award-winning TV show "The Amazing Race."  She is racing with her band mate Caroline Cutbirth, and they are spreading a little "song" around the world!


Pat McCrory is the 74th governor of North Carolina. Gov. McCrory threw his hat into the political arena and ran for an at large city council seat and won.  He won two more times, serving as Mayor Pro Tem in the process. In 1995, McCrory was elected Mayor of Charlotte and went on to serve a record seven terms. 

The city was on the cusp of an explosion of growth, but it took a visionary leader to help bring Charlotte to the next level and become one of America's great cities. Mayor McCrory brought together teams of people from both parties and across the public and private sectors, showing great leadership in Charlotte’s major issues.

In 2001, McCrory founded the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Association, a bipartisan group of mayors working together to find common solutions to problems facing North Carolina's cities. After leaving the mayor's office in 2009, McCrory joined the Charlotte-based firm Moore and Van Allen to consult on energy issues, economic development, and strategic initiatives and began serving on the boards of two great North Carolina-headquartered companies, Lending Tree and Kewaunee Scientific. 

McCrory founded the Mayor's Mentoring Alliance in 1995 and personally served as a mentor to youth in the city. In 2005, Charlotte was named in the 100 Best Communities for Youth by America’s Promise.  He has been involved in many local charity boards, and served as the honorary chair for the Charlotte chapter of the Alzheimer’s Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation. He also served as the Chair of the Republican Mayors Association and received a presidential appointment to the Homeland Security Advisory Committee. 

He and his wife, Ann, live with their dog, Mo.


Col. Joe Kittinger made history in 1960, setting four world records when he jumped to Earth from an altitude of 19 miles. With a distinguished USAF career, including time as a POW during the Vietnam War, he retired as a colonel from the USAF in 1978 and went on to set two world ballooning records. He currently serves as a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and as the National Aeronautics Association Elder Statesmen of Aviation, and has won numerous awards in recognition of his daredevil feats, including a place in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2012, at the age of 84, he helped make world history again as a capsule communicator for Felix Baumgartner, who broke his skydiving record as part of Red Bull’s Stratos Project.


A southern belle at heart, this Morgantown, WV, native spent a year traveling across the country with NASCAR hosting a podcast for the Speed Channel called "Miss Emily on the Scene," where she advised fans on the best places to visit in each NASCAR city and encouraged listeners to submit questions that she answered live. She is best known as American’s darling who captured the hearts of hopeless romantics everywhere on Monday's No. 1 TV Series ABC's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Now calling Charlotte home, Maynard focuses her time and energy on raising her daughter and playing super-mom, poised to take over the jewelry design world this spring with her first jewelry launch and the line Emily Maynard for Towne & Reese. Inspired by her travels and her love of fashion and jewelry, the line will feature one-of-a-king affordable pieces that can transform any outfit.

Being a full time mommy, Maynard's philanthropic endeavors focus on helping children, volunteering for The Hendrick Marrow Program, Levine's Children's Hospital and most recently A Child's Place, an organization that started in downtown Charlotte to erase the impact of homelessness on children and their education.


Chris Corchiani, a Florida native, has enjoyed a successful basketball career, first gaining recognition as a two-time state champion for North Carolina State University playing under legendary coach Jim Valvano and earning the nickname "Fire and Ice" alongside teammate Rodney Monroe. He was the first NCAA player to pass 1,000 assists, and after graduation in 1991, Corchiani was then drafted by the Orlando Magic, played one season with the Boston Celtics and then went on to play professionally in Europe. Corchiani is currently the CEO of DNJ Gateway Bank Mortgage and is a founding board member of the NCSU State Club.


Born in Ocean City, NJ, and becoming a resident of Wrightsville Beach in 1986, Benjamin Bourgeois entered his first surfing contest at six years old. He held the World Junior Champion title in 1995, became the ISA World Amateur Champion in 1996, and began his professional career in 1998. He has since won numerous contests and accolades, including a place in the 2001 World Championship Tour, a gold medal in the 2003 X Games in Huntington Beach, and won first and second in the notable Nike Lowers Pro in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Bourgeois has been featured on the cover of over ten major surfing magazines, including, Surfing Magazine, Surfer Magazine and Transworld Surf.


Arlie Honeycutt, a Vocal Performance major at East Carolina University, is joining us as Miss North Carolina 2012. Honeycutt has a passion for singing, and has sung in numerous venues, including the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek and Carnegie Hall, sung the National Anthem at various sporting events, and numerous theatrical productions, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Fantasticks. She has partnered with the critically-acclaimed theatre company The Towne Players to create the Henry Sanchez Memorial Scholarship Fund in her hometown, raising more than $12,000 to send local children to their summer theatre camp. She has also served as the Fundraising and Marketing chair for the ECU Ambassadors Special Populations Prom in 2011 and 2012, helping to provide a glamorous and exciting evening of fun for individuals who may not have had an opportunity to attend school dances due to mental or physical handicaps.


After growing up in Colorado and Milan, Italy, Alexa Allemani travelled to New York to attend Vassar College, from which she graduated cum laude. Allemani is best known for her role of Allison on AMC's hit show Mad Men, for which she has earned rave reviews and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble. She has appeared in independent films, performed in theatre productions in Los Angeles, off-Broadway, Milan and Athens, and has appeared in several hit television shows such as The West Wing and Criminal Minds. In her free time, Allemani volunteers for the Veterans Administration, teaches theater and film to children, and has several writing projects in active development.


As a young actress, Peyton List was handpicked for the Red Pages' 2012 US Hot 100 list, which predicts the up-and-coming talent in the world of film, television, music, fashion, sports, literature, and politics. List is best known for playing Emma Ross, a bubbly and eager teenager on the hit Disney Channel series Jessie. She is also recognized for her role in the feature films Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, opposite Nicholas Cage, Remember Me with Robert Pattinson and Chris Cooper, and 27 Dresses, opposite Katherine Heigl. List has appeared in the Lifetime movie Secrets in the Walls, as well as guest starring roles on Gossip Girl, Saturday Night Live, Law & Order: SVU and Cashmere Mafia.


Wilmington native Win McMurry is an award-winning on-air host and journalist for NBC Universal's Golf Channel.

As "Special Ops" for Golf Channel since 2010 she travels across the country to report for Golf Central and Morning Drive. McMurry anchors PGA Tour Primetime Thursday and Friday evenings and reports for the 24-hour network on original programming features and specials. McMurry is recognized as Gold Channel’s resident Fantasy Golf expert. Her weekly columns and articles can be read on GolfChannel.com. 

McMurry has teed it up with the biggest names in sports and entertainment including Clint Eastwood, Samuel L. Jackson and Bill Russell.  She was named Golf's No. 1 Beauty by Sports Illustrated's GOLF Magazine and has won two Telly Awards for her work as a producer, writer and host of groundbreaking online content for the PGA Tour. She has served as a contributor on the Grey Goose 19th Hole, host of the travel-based web exclusive, Gone With the Win, and anchored news updates for the network. Previously McMurry worked as a reporter for PGA Tour Entertainment at the World Golf Hall of Fame and for CBS Sports and WCBS-TV in New York City.

McMurry graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a class of 2001 graduate of New Hanover High School and a former Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Festival Belle.

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30 Comments on "Country singer to reign over Azalea Festival, McCrory to lead parade"

2015 years 10 months ago

you failed to mention the “Carolina” Strawberry Festival slated for 05/11 in Wallace — if the I-40 signs are correct. And don’t forget the “Big Squeeze” slated for Duplin Winery sometime in the next 6 weeks; again if the I-40 signs are correct.

I think this was to have been similar to the Apple Blossom Festival held in Winchester, VA each spring. They typically get the President’s daughter as the High Princess or Queen. And they draw a crowd from DC. Neither of which we have in Wilmington.

Thank goodness the bond referrendum for the ball park was shot down.

2015 years 10 months ago

It’s sad that something as trivial as an azalea festival gets this much attnetion! Who gives a rats behind about a queen or a ribbon cutting or any of the rest of the socialite BS! You have some ignorant little dictator in N Korea acting as dumb as he looks (Not good judgement on Dennis Rodman’s behalf–go figure) We have people starving in the USA…we have illegal immigrants, we have felons running around killing people and selling drugs to your children…and all you can do is talk about this stupid event and the color of the queen!

Guest Reply
2015 years 10 months ago

First…Just wait until the Eskimo’s attack us under the radar. Maybe Dennis Rodbrains visit is why North Korea hasn’t pushed the button yet…he broke it playing with it! Maybe he was teaching Jr. over there how to shoot hoops instead of missiles.
Why does this Azalea event get precedence over more important matters in the world?

1. Teen Mom 2 is on vacation from herself.
2. Justin Bieber is being quiet since spitting on his neighbor. (but he has plans brewing for the Esquire to report on).
3. Britney Spears has a boil on her forehead and is dormant until it heals…or she POPS IT!
4. The Car-dash-She-ins have the flu…or “flew”.
5. Maybe our City Council can figure another taxing process for this event…and this year’s study will produce their answer.

And that’s just 5 reasons ;-)

2015 years 10 months ago

We seem to have become addicted to all things “festival”
Yes indeed there is a strawberry festival in Wallace on 5/11 but THE strawberry festival – yes THE – 79th ANNUAL strawberry festival is in Chadborn.
Please keep your festivals straight Chadborn is “it” the Alpha and Omega of strawberry festivals :-)
Then there’s THE blueberry festival in Burgaw sometime in June I believe.
So the Big Squeeze is in the next 6 weeks at Duplin Winery? I went there once, and toured the facility. I’m not one for the sweeter wines but I suppose they were “OK”.

As for the stadium referendum now I’m mad because the bond failed.
Imagine having a “Braves Festival” – floats in a parade, ball girls for Braves Queen, naming a bat boy King? I’m sure the local sandwhich shoppes can come up with a Braves Hoagie, or Braves Burger or even a Braves hot dog. What an economic juggernaut that would be eh?

Ah well it’s good for a laugh, but the Azalea Queen nominating process has taken on a life of it’s own and our continued fascination with “stars” (especially reality stars) is making the festival seem even more “hokie” than it actually is! But the local hoi polloi seem to revel in this rubbing elbows with “C” list stars.
I guess for us “C” list stars are what we deserve…….


2015 years 10 months ago

The Azalea festival – a small town celebration that’s got growing pains. “Media stars” being brought in as a symbol of the areas attractiveness.
The problem is that the locals want a local flavor to stay in the planning – but at the same time want some “star power” to attract more people.
Many local “stars” have huge egos – making them Queen would turn the “Queenship” into a popularity contest. This isn’t the high school prom.

Take a look at the strawberry festival down near Tabor City or the blueberry festival in Wallace to see where the Azalea festival was 30 to 50 years ago (AS I have read about it – I wasn’t here).
Do we want a local High school girl to be queen? It’s not such a bad idea but she wouldn’t have the same star power that the current queens have.

I’ve been to a couple of AF events and I’ve had my fill. Been there done that……

This isn’t the Rose Parade on New Years day………


Treena Browne
2015 years 10 months ago

These events sound very exciting. I am a lifelong resident of NC. My wife is a world citizen. I like showing her good things.

2015 years 10 months ago

They tried to bring in Al Sharptons daughter, but she was busy at a Heavy D memoriam gathering.

Guest Vader
2015 years 10 months ago

Are you advocating someone be picked simply because of their skin color? That seems racist.

2015 years 10 months ago

does race always enter the picture when results are not to your satisfaction.

For that matter, from the information presented, how does one identify race?

2015 years 10 months ago


You ever thought that maybe the African-American celebs were asked and turned down the request? Had a African-American Queen last year.

2015 years 10 months ago

Hopefully there aren’t any bulging discs…

Guest CommonTater
2015 years 10 months ago

sounds like white bashing based on your last comment. pfft… One in every crowd…..

2015 years 10 months ago

Two thoughts:
The bio for Win McMurry is more accomplished than the one for Wayne. Would it have made more sense for the committee to ask her to be the queen?

There are no African-American celebs announced here…is that just an oversight?

2015 years 10 months ago

There is no year in my memory that someone does not complain that there is no blacks in whatever role in the Azalea Festival. Evidently blacks still hold on to the idea that they are owed something. You earn what you get not get what you think you deserve!

2015 years 10 months ago

We are “owed” just as much as anyone else in this country! We have EARNED every right that is bestowed upon us per the US Constitution and from God Almighty!!! Yes, there should be more people of color chosen to be Queen Azalea! Not because we feel we are owed anything, but it’s just the right thing to do! Our community is a multiracial community. To deny what is obvious won’t change a thing, I like many others here that do not consider themselves white aren’t going anywhere!

Comments like yours sicken me! You hold on to the mindset of bigots that have long passed. You’re quick to point out the “bad apples” within the race, but totally ignore the 95% of us that work hard, believe in family, believe in education, believe in being an asset to society, believe that we as a people deserve ALL the opportunities that are given to every other race here in the US. Why not???

For me I could care less if the Queen is White, Black, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese, etc. Yet, I do feel that since the festival is supported by the diverse races that reside here, the “face” of the festival SHOULD from time to time represent our community’s diversity. What’s wrong with that????

Look around our city’s racial makeup has changed, our state’s racial makeup has changed, and lastly, our country’s racial makeup has changed…It’s OK…It’s OK…you’ll be fine…we’ll all be fine…that’s what America is all about….Isn’t it???

2015 years 10 months ago

truthseeker did i miss the article that you read?I have only read statements wishing they had someone people knew.

Guest az-ale-ya
2015 years 10 months ago

And she’s on a reality show and another member of her sparkling entourage is also from a reality show that mocks the entire concept of marriage and with another unknown who’s “hitting it big” on the golf channel! Wow! It just doesn’t get any bigger than that!

Just once it would be nice to see the Azalea Festival choose some locals who actually might deserve to be honored instead of hyping some fourth rate also-ran celebs that they were able to convince to show up.

If the Azalea Festival chose to honor some locals it would at least look like we were proud of ourselves. All of this psuedo excitement for some nobodys that no one has even heard of makes us look like a bunch of star-struck country bumpkins with no self worth of our own. If they really think this is the image of Wilmington they want to convey to the rest of the world they might as well just make Berger the queen and be done with it.

2015 years 10 months ago

you could nominate some.

you could volunteer your time to work on the event.

2015 years 10 months ago

She is an excellent pick

Maybe we can get Paris Hilton, Teen Mother, Sister Soulja, Kim Kardashian, or Ozzie Osbourne’s wife next time, to make you happy.

2015 years 10 months ago


The Duke’s likely still pretty good with a bolt of lightening.

2015 years 10 months ago

Another total and complete unknown for Azalea Queen.

2015 years 10 months ago

I’m surpised that they don’t complain that we don’t have black azaleas. Ummm, maybe they will boycott. NOT THAT LUCKY……

2015 years 10 months ago

I do hope someone had the thought to put Berger on a restraining order to keep him away from Gov McCrory. It would be another bad situation if Berger approached the governor during the parade and he very well might do it.

2015 years 10 months ago

It’s not about anyone getting their way. Our area is very diverse and the flagship event of the year for our citizens should reflect that somewhat…this year’s list of celebrities and entertainment do not…

2015 years 10 months ago

Hey it’s the white mans party, I’m going to Vog;s place and work in his garden

2015 years 10 months ago

I’ve not once said that the Queen should be black. I asked why there were no black celebs. Are you folks saying that is too much to ask given the significant percentage of African Americans that live in Wilmington?

2015 years 10 months ago

It is my understanding that the committee members of the Azalea Festival had no idea who the queen would be. Mind you, I wasn’t there but I also understand an email was to be sent out at 11:00 am Wednesday to the committee members from the president of the festival telling them who the queen would be. Seems like a lot of committees were left in the dark about a lot of decision making this year and there were some committee members not very happy about it. That’s what I was told . . .

2015 years 10 months ago

In this day and age, what self respecting African American celebrity would participate in an antebellum festival that celebrates the days of slavery? I’m surprised the libs in this town continue to support this racist homage in a community with such a rich, black history.

2015 years 10 months ago

on your comments…You MIGHT be a racist…

Guest az-ale-ya
2015 years 10 months ago

My point is we can honor ourselves more by honoring some local person from here than by attempting to make ourselves look important by honoring some pseudo-celeb from somewhere else.

John Wayne’s granddaughter, essentially a reality star, is a better pick than someone from here who’s accomplished something here? How about a person who essentially participated in a televised marriage contest? That’s a celebrity these days? What the heck should they be honored for outside of just having their face on a TV screen?

The very fact that you suggested the names you did indicates your total lack of comprehension of my post.


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