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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.

Comment on this Story

  • Vog46

    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…….


  • SurfCityTom

    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.

  • Guest Reply

    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 ;-)

  • nofaithnlaw

    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!

  • Vog46

    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………


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