North Carolina Azalea Festival announces 2021 Queen

Updated: Mar. 8, 2021 at 8:03 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The North Carolina Azalea Festival announced Monday the 74th Queen Azalea for the 2021 Azalea Festival is Victoria Huggins.

Huggins, a former WECT employee, was Miss Wilmington 2016, Miss North Carolina 2017, and a former emcee of both the Azalea Children’s Tea and the Azalea Festival Princess Scholarship Pageant.

As a news producer for WECT/WSFX, she worked third shift on “Carolina in the Morning” and as a traffic reporter.

Currently a resident of Vass, N.C., Huggins counts this opportunity as one of the greatest honors of her lifetime. She is now a community and media relations manager of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, a Class A minor league baseball team, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Miss North Carolina organization and the Fayetteville Urban Ministries.

During her year as Miss North Carolina, she served as a public speaker in many capacities, and raised awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease and music therapy. In 2018, she was also recognized for raising over $30,000 to benefit Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

Huggins received her Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication with a double minor in Music and Religion from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and is currently studying for her MBA online.

The Azalea Festival committee announced that Brooke McIntyre, a senior from Coastal Christian High School, will be extending her Princess reign from 2020.

McIntyre placed All-State and All-Conference for track and received the Coach’s Award. She is also in Beta Club and several community service groups and is on the competitive cheer team.

Brooke’s Princess Court consists of: 1st Runner-Up from Isaac Bear Early College, Julia Narvaez Munguia, 2nd Runner-Up, from Ashley High School, Dargan Thompson, 3rd Runner-Up, from John T. Hoggard High School, Bailey Barefoot, and 4th Runner-Up, also from Coastal Christian High School, Stevie Henderson.

Rachard McIntyre has been named the festival artist. As a graduate of Cape Fear Community College, he is renowned for researching people and events and then conveying the images and words into art.

As noted in the announcement, “McIntyre has an impressive collection of exceptionally detailed pen and ink portraits but one of his most signature techniques is creating images out of words.”

Rachard’s watercolor of a stunningly beautiful bloom of a Pink Formosa azalea caught the attention of Azalea Festival President Deirdre McGlone-Webb who commissioned him to recreate the painting in word art.

The invited guest is Alex Highsmith, an Ashley High School graduate, who was drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers (pick 102).

Highsmith began his rookie season as a starter on special teams and was a significant contributor off the bench as an outside linebacker. In week 13, he was thrust into the starting lineup against the Washington Football Team and started the last six games for the Steelers.

Before he was drafted, he played four years for the UNC-Charlotte football team after being given a walk-on opportunity in 2015.

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