April Take 5

Planning Z Fest with Alison Baringer

Even as a kid ALISON BARINGER was drawn to large community events such as the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities held in her hometown of Canton, Ohio. Fast-forward, and she now runs Wilmington’s biggest party of the year, the North Carolina Azalea Festival with multiple events around town and an estimated attendance of 300,000 people.

IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE, ARE YOU ORGANIZED PLANNING OR SEAT-OF-YOUR-PANTS SPONTANEITY? “Super organized. I live by my Google calendar, but I also let a little ‘organized chaos’ sneak in. I try to plan time for spontaneity.” WHAT IS YOUR MORNING ROUTINE? “Over the past year I have started getting up earlier to get a 5K in and make time for an actual breakfast. I also write ten things I’m grateful for and why in a journal. It truly starts my day off right, and the effects last throughout the entire day.” IF YOU COULD THROW ANY KIND OF PARTY, WHO OR WHAT WOULD IT BE FOR AND WHY? “Maybe a rustic, Old-World style, farm-to-table type cocktail event in the countryside of Italy. Throwing an event is all about providing a warm, open, and welcoming environment so you and your guests can connect to each other and the experience.” DO YOU HAVE ANY POST-FESTIVAL RITUALS THAT YOU DO ONCE IT’S ALL OVER? “Sleep, eat, and stay off my feet. I generally stay in my pajamas for a day and devour all my favorite foods. If I’m feeling adventurous, I go out for a massage or a nap on the beach.” WHAT’S SOMETHING WILMINGTONIANS WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT THE AZALEA FESTIVAL? “Over 1,000 volunteers are required to stage it, and the economic impact of one Azalea Festival is over $50 million.”