Nacogdoches Azalea Trail to carry on despite weather

By Holley Nees - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) – The annual Nacogdoches Azalea Trail has already brought in hundreds of visitors to the city, and organizers said despite less than ideal weather this weekend, they will carry on.

The trail and visitors pour thousands of dollars into the local economy every year.  However, this year organizers said bad weather and late blooming won't hurt them.

"We get calls every day from visitors across the state and from out of state asking how the azaleas are doing," said Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau Spokesperson Anderson Dolton.  "They're all very understanding that the unusually cold weather has really put a damper on our bloom times."

Dolton said although all the Azaleas haven't all bloomed at the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, it has already brought in hundreds of visitors to the city.

"Actually the Azalea Trail is our largest visitor time of the year," explained Dolton.  "Within the last two weeks alone, we've had more than 600 visitors just come into our visitors center here downtown."

The Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation said the average visitor spends about $100, and with hundreds of visitors, it adds up.

"The businesses that it helps really are the hotels and restaurants and gas stations, but there is a lot of other things that the Azalea Trail brings," said NEDCO Vice President Peggy Muckelroy.

"We just drove up because we wanted a little get away from San Antonio and decided to see the oldest town in Texas," said Janet Osterloh.

There's also a long-term impact when visitors fall in love with the town.

"Those little children that have been here, love the SFA campus and they end up going to SFA and seniors end up moving here," said Muckelroy.

Rain or shine, if tourists don't come this weekend, they're confident they'll be here the next.

"My advice would be to wait a week if you're coming to see the azaleas," said Osterloh.  Then, the azaleas are expected to bloom along with the local economy.

The trail will end April 3, but they may keep the signs up a little longer this year.  To kick off the 2010 Azalea Trail, the Flora Garden Club and area nurseries are holding a plant sale in the Nacogdoches downtown square.  You can stop by Saturday March 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Organizers said for the best pick, you should come early and bring a cart or wagon to transport your plants.

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