The Azalea Trail features 10 miles of azaleas, dogwoods, spring flowers and the ambassadors of the trail, the Azalea Belles. The Belles, local high school freshmen and sophomores, will greet guests and pose for pictures dressed in antebellum-style costumes.
The trail festivities, slated to last until April 7, include an Azalea Quilt show, which will begin at 10 a.m. today at the Harvey Convention Center, and the Azalea Trail Arts and Crafts Fair, set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday in Bergfeld Park. The Tyler Azalea 10K and 2-Mile Fun Run will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Bergfeld Park.
Not all of the activities this weekend will be directly related to Azalea Trail events. There also will be a living history event at Camp Ford from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, featuring infantry drills, weapons demonstrations and skirmishes. There also is a Tyler historic home tour from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Oakwood Cemetery will have its annual “Spirits of Oakwood” walking tour, where actors in period clothing portray notable Tyler and Smith County residents buried there. The gates open at 1 p.m.
Saturday, with tours starting every 10 minutes.
The trail was an instant success. Within two years, it had expanded to 75 homes and attracted 15,000 annual visitors. By 1964, 25,000 people a year were coming to see the azaleas. In 1986, it expanded by two miles and then expanded again in 2009.
The trail now stretches 10 miles and attracts more than 100,000 visitors to Tyler every year. Many of the yards along the trail still feature the original plants that arrived by boxcar in the 1940s and 1950s.
For a complete list of activities during a specific weekend, go to www. visit tyler.com.
Complimentary visitor packets are available by calling 800-235-5712 or at www. visittyler.com.
Visitors may obtain trail information at the Chamber of Commerce, 315 N. Broadway Ave., 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday until April 7.