Azalea Festival Queen is no stranger to crowns, spotlight

RALEIGH — The N.C. Azalea Festival has named Concord native Beth Troutman as the 2018 Azalea Festival Queen. The title of Queen Azalea dates back to 1948 when actress Jacqueline White first held the title. Former queens include actresses Esther Williams and Phylicia Rashad, talk show host Kelly Ripa, and former Miss Americas Heather French Henry, Mallory Hagan and Kira Kazantsev.

Beth Troutman is an Emmy Award-winning television personality and motivational speaker. Her career began in Los Angeles where she worked on the hit show “The West Wing.” After four years with the show, Troutman returned to N.C. to run for the U.S. House in the 8th District in 2004. She was the first woman to run for Congress in the 8th District, but ultimately lost to incumbent Robin Hayes. After the election, Troutman was offered a job as the host of the television morning show “Fox News Rising.” While working for Fox, Beth covered everything from politics to pop culture and was a red carpet correspondent at the “American Idol” finale during three of its most popular seasons.

As the festival queen, Troutman says she is focused on celebrating the Wilmington area and enjoying the almost weeklong reign as the focal point of the event.

“The Azalea Festival marks the beginning of spring for our state,” said Troutman. “It’s food, azaleas, concerts and things that people love.”

Troutman, who lives near Charlotte, will be the headliner for almost every event during the N.C. Azalea Festival, which runs from April 11 to April 15 with events throughout the Wilmington area. She says her main goal as queen is to raise awareness for the region.

“This event gives visitors a taste of the Wilmington area, and I’m positive they will come back,” she said.

Troutman begins her official duties at a televised coronation on April 11. There she will be surrounded by the Queen’s Court, eight young women who are part of the Miss North Carolina program representing areas throughout N.C. This year’s court is comprised of: Abby Britt, Miss Johnston County; Autumn Hubbard, Miss Greater Carolina; Carli Batson, Miss Wilmington; Laura Matrazzo, Miss Metrolina; Megan Huff, Miss Moore County; Shanice Street, Miss Henderson; Taylor Cuthbertson, Miss Carolina Foothills; and Taylor Foley, Miss Queen City.

The Azalea Festival Crown | Photo Courtesy N.C. Azalea Festival

Troutman, who also competed in Miss North Carolina as Miss Cabarrus County and Miss Raleigh, says she excited to wear the crown that has been worn by the likes of Ripa and Williams.

“I am following in the footsteps of some amazing women,” she said.

Troutman has recently spent time living at an orphanage in Haiti providing aid, assistance and support to the local children and community. While in Haiti, she shot a series of short documentaries that recently won two Emmy Awards. She says that while the Azalea Festival offers a different experience than Haiti, it still exemplifies the “kindness and a sense of community that allows the coming together of people with diverse backgrounds to celebrate by focusing on things that bring us together.”

After the Azalea Festival, Troutman will be focused on a new documentary series titled “Live Life Forward,” which details community involvement and its impacts around the globe.