The 48th Dogwood Azalea Festival kicks off in Charleston, MO - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

The 48th Dogwood Azalea Festival kicks off in Charleston, MO

It's more like spring flowers than April showers at the 2016 Dogwood Azalea festival this year. (Source: Matt Fluegge/KFVS) It's more like spring flowers than April showers at the 2016 Dogwood Azalea festival this year. (Source: Matt Fluegge/KFVS)
CHARLESTON, MO (KFVS) -

It's more like spring flowers than April showers at the 2016 Dogwood Azalea festival this year.

Weather is expected to be clear and temperatures are reported to be in the high 70s.

The festival kicked off on Thursday, April 14, and will continue through Sunday, April 17.

The event is known to draw quite a crowd with thousands descending on the small town every year.

The year 2016 happens to be a special year for the festival.

According to their website, the travel magazine, Fodors, named The Dogwood Azalea Festival as one of the top Spring Flower Festivals in the country.

“The stroll along the 6-mile Dogwood-Azalea Trail for the Dogwood-Azalea Festival is the most beautiful time of year to visit Charleston, Missouri. As evident by the name of the festival, Charleston’s three-generation dogwoods and azaleas are the two most prominent plants seen throughout the trail. The festival celebrates its 48th year with the theme “Home Grown & Proud,” celebrating the area’s many local vendors and merchants who’ve kept the classic town unique. A visit to the festival offers a colorful insight into the locally-proclaimed “history, hospitality and tradition” of Charleston, Missouri.” - Fodors Travel

Ahead of the event, traffic will be restricted to one lane on east Commercial and east Cypress.

The theme for this year's festivities is "Home Grown & Small Town Proud."

The main focus of the event is flowers, but there are lots of other events that will bring visitors from across the region.

A parade is scheduled to go through downtown Charleston on Saturday. It begins at 11 a.m. at City Hall. It will then travel down main street to Commercial Street and onto Dr. E. Charles Rowling Park.

The Dr. E. Charles Rowling park is the center for this year's events.

 A crafts bazaar will be there, competitions will be held, and live music will play.

Carnival rides are set to begin on East Marshall Street on Friday night.

On Saturday, visitors can take a stroll down the lovely tree lined streets and even see the blooms from a horse-drawn carriage ride.

The rides start at the corner of Cypress and Smith Street and operate from noon to 8 p.m. for the cost of $6.

If you like pie, this year's new event may be for you!

A Fried Pie Eating Contest will take place on Saturday at noon at the tennis courts in Rowling Park. Those feeling competitive will try to eat three fried apple pies faster than the others.

The winner will receive free fried pies from The Original Fried Pie Shop for a whole year.

For dog lovers, pups from across The Heartland will compete in the Dogwood-Azalea Festival Dog Show, also at Rowling Park. Organizers say it is one of the most popular and entertaining events at the festival.

Also on Saturday, come and see the lights! A candlelight tour will take place through town. Residents will light up their homes, dogwood trees, and azalea bushes with lights and lanterns.

If you want to take a little of the day home with you - The Molly French Garden Club will be selling cuttings of azalea varieties that thrive in The Heartland. The sale will go from Thursday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at 307 N. Main Street. 

Charleston DPS urge residents to leave their UTVs, ATVs and golf carts at home.

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