Belle dressmaker speaks on Azalea tradition

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This week marks Wilmington’s 74th annual Azalea Festival. This will be the first Azalea Festival, however, without the Azalea Belles.

The belles usually are stationed at Wilmington gardens and area hot spots during the garden party and tours.

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In the past, they were junior or senior girls attending New Hanover County high schools.

Alma Fennell has sewn Antebellum dresses for the belles for decades, and said its always been a labor of love.

“They can come in here, they can be insecure, they can be athletic, just different personalities,” said Fennell. “But once you start dressing these girls, putting their hoops on, trying on different dresses, their personality blossoms.”

Fennell is a member of the Cape Fear Garden Club and said many have reached out asking for the tradition to return.

Fennell said the Garden Club could discuss that possibility in September.