April 1, 2015

19th Annual Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-off Brings Food, Music & Fun to Carolina Beach Lake Park

March 31, 2015, Carolina Beach, N.C.:  Who makes the region’s best seafood chowder? Visitors to Carolina Beach can have their say by participating and voting in the 19th Annual Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-off on Saturday, April 11th. The event promises an afternoon of fun at Carolina Beach Lake Park with tasty chowder, music by the Mark Roberts Band and fun in a classic coastal setting. 

Photo from the event Facebook page
The 2015 Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-off is a family-friendly event that features local chefs who prepare and share their best seafood chowder recipes between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. While the adults are sampling chowder and enjoying live music, kids can enjoy the park’s playground and Kidz Zone with face-painting, a giant 3-in-1 inflatable house, laser tag and more. For an additional fee, paddleboat and surrey rides are available. Traditional festival foods (hot dogs, funnel cakes, crab cakes) and adult beverages will also be for sale. At 4:30 p.m., the People’s and Judges’ Choice Awards will be announced, along with awards for the Most Enthusiastic and Best-Decorated tents.

During the cook-off, chowder is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to taste and vote between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The 2015 Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-Off’s seven contestants include three returning restaurants and four newcomers. This year all participants hail from Carolina Beach and include: Gibby’s Dock & Dine, Havana’s Fresh Island Restaurant, Saint’s Cove, Sea Witch CafĂ© & Tiki Bar, Shelby Jean’s on The Boardwalk, The Shack at Dockside, and Two Kousins Restaurant & Sports Bar. The day-long chowder showcase also features live entertainment by the ever-popular variety dance band The Mark Roberts Band, who will perform favorite hits all day at the Carolina Beach Lake Park Stingray Amphitheater.
                                                                               
Want to go? Gates open Saturday, April 11 at 11:30am. A modest admission charge of $6 for adults will gain access to this family event. Admission is free for children ages 12 and under. Coolers are not permitted, as beer/wine/soft drinks and food will be available for sale. Chairs, blankets and children are welcome, but please leave pets at home.

Plan to spend the weekend exploring Carolina and Kure beaches. Check out the renovations of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, along with new businesses. And look for Frank’s Pizza reopening soon! Of course, you’ll also find the legendary Britt’s Donuts and Fudge Boat. Families will also love Carolina Beach State Park, the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach Oceanfront Park’s playground, and Civil War artifacts at Fort Fisher State Historic Site.

Festivals and events provide a fun and affordable way to experience the history, culture, and traditions of a region. This annual event is one of many presented throughout the year by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce. For additional information on the 2015 Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-off and other island events, please call 910-458-8434 or visit www.pleasureislandnc.org.     

Go with the flow…and see where the water takes you. Surrounded by water with the ocean to the east and the Cape Fear River to the west, Wilmington, N.C. and its island beaches are easily accessible from US-74 and I-40. For a free 2015 Official Visitors Guide for Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach, call 1-866-266-9690 or visit website www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com for visitor information, seasonal specials, and a complete calendar of events.                                                                            

NORTH CAROLINA AZALEA FESTIVAL WELCOMES SPRING IN GRAND STYLE

 Wilmington, N.C., March 27, 2015: When it comes to flower festivals in the South, it’s hard to top the North Carolina Azalea Festival, a Wilmington tradition since 1948. The five-day festival welcomes spring in grand style with pageantry, merriment and Southern flair. Each year, Queen Azalea opens the North Carolina Azalea Festival, arriving by riverboat for her official coronation. This year the festival’s very first queen in 1948, actress Jacqueline White Anderson, will participate in the Queen’s Coronation to crown Mallory Hagan (Miss America 2013) as Queen Azalea 2015. The fanfare continues with Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Belles dressed in colorful hoop skirts and parasols. In the days that follow, festival highlights include juried arts and craft shows, a traveling circus, fireworks (Saturday night), and a street fair (Fri./Sat./Sun.) with exhibits, vendors, live music, entertainment and kids’ activities. There’s also an elaborate 2-hour parade on Saturday morning (beginning at 9:30 a.m.) in historic Wilmington, complete with azalea-laden floats, marching bands, clowns, show animals, local pageant winners and celebrity guests. This year’s parade viewing area will be along Third Street, from Market to Bladen streets.

There’s also much ado about azaleas, the colorful flowering shrubs that enhance Wilmington’s landscape each spring. Azaleas make appearances at every event, but nowhere are they more prominent than at the festival’s official featured tours: the Cape Fear Garden Club’s Azalea Garden Tour and the Historic Wilmington Foundation’s Azalea Home Tour.

The Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour, April 10-12, is one of the South’s longest-running and most popular garden tours. The 62nd annual Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour theme is “Cherish the Past; Embrace the Future” to commemorate the club’s 90th anniversary in 2015. This year’s tour showcases 10 private and public gardens that include a mix of established and new lovingly tended landscapes. Garden tour price includes free admission to Airlie Gardens on Saturday and Sunday. For details and tickets: www.capefeargardenclub.org/azalea-garden-tour. Another time-honored sanctioned event is the Azalea Home Tour, April 12 and 13, showcasing nine private homes and a church of historical and architectural interest. Homes are chosen to represent the wide variety of architectural styles found in Wilmington. For home tour tickets: www.historicwilmington.org
  
Live music is a big part of every N.C. Azalea Festival. This year’s headline acts include country superstar Alan Jackson and rap powerhouse Nelly.  With more than 150 music awards to his credit, Alan Jackson brings his 25th Anniversary Keepin’ It Country Tour to the N.C. Azalea Festival on April 9. Over his 25-year music career, Jackson has sold nearly 60 million albums worldwide and ranks as one of the 10 best-selling country artists of all time.  Joining Jackson are Capitol Records Nashville’s rising new artist Jon Pardi and Grammy/CMA/ACM nominated singer/songwriter Brandy Clark.

Grammy-winning superstar rapper Nelly will delight audiences on April 10 with his #1 hits like “Hot in Here” and “Dilemma.” Since his rap music debut in 2000, Nelly has made his mark as a rapper, singer, song-writer, clothing designer, actor and philanthropist. Catch Nelly in concert before he heads out on a summer tour with the New Kids on the Block and TLC.

All headline concerts are outdoors on the Miller Lite Main Stage at the Cape Fear Community College Campus in Downtown Wilmington (411 N. Front Street). Concerts begin at 7:00 p.m.; gates open at 6:00 p.m. Concerts are rain or shine; standing room only. Tickets for all concerts are available online at www.ncazaleafestival.org and at the N.C. Azalea Festival Office (5724 Oleander Drive, Ste. B7; Mon.-Fri., 9am-5pm). Chairs, backpacks, umbrellas, coolers are not permitted inside the venue. Chairs, food and beverage will be available for cash purchase. 

Other notable celebrities scheduled to make guest appearances at the 2015 N.C. Azalea Festival include: Disney star Skai Jackson (plays Zuri Ross on Disney’s “Jessie”); HGTV star/interior designer Meg Caswell; Southern novelist/Azalea Festival artist Clyde Edgerton; Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings; Pro beach volleyball star Casey Jennings; NYT best-selling author/former fighter pilot Dan Hampton; Actress/first Azalea Festival queen Jacqueline White Anderson; former Miss North Carolina USA Julia Dalton; Miss North Carolina Beth Stovall; and Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan (Queen Azalea).

Introduced last year, the N.C. Azalea Festival App makes it easy for attendees to keep up with event information by providing breaking entertainment news, behind-the-scenes buzz, and insider tips. For App details, a festival schedule and concert tickets, visit www.ncazaleafestival.org or call 910-794-4650, or stop by the Festival ticket office (5725 Oleander Dr., Wilmington).


Go with the flow…and see where the water takes you. Surrounded by water, Wilmington, N.C. and its island beaches are a convenient drive from Raleigh via I-40 and Charlotte via US 74. If you’re flying in to experience the N.C. Azalea Festival, the Wilmington International Airport (ILM) offers daily flights to major airline hubs. For a free 2015 Official Visitors Guide to Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, call 1-866-266-9690, email visit@wilmingtonandbeaches.com, or visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com.  
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