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Wild Azalea Festival blossoms again Saturday

Kourtney Keeney, 2, holds onto her family dog, Nila, during an animal presentation at last year’s Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow. This year’s festival will be held Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

Kourtney Keeney, 2, holds onto her family dog, Nila, during an animal presentation at last year’s Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow. This year’s festival will be held Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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A rat snake makes itself at home in the shorts pocket of Jeremy Hilderbrand, a naturalist from Dauset Trails Nature Center, during last year’s Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow. This year’s festival will be held Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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A young gopher tortoise shies away from the attention thrust upon him at the Dauset Trails booth during last year’s Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow. This year’s festival will be held Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

MORROW — It’s springtime at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve and that means flowers are in bloom.

The trees are sprouting new leaves.

The animals are coming out of hibernation after a particularly harsh winter that saw two ice and snow storms sweep through the area earlier this year.

So naturally it’s time for Mother Nature to show off what she’s had cooking for the Southern Crescent and that means it’s time to party at Reynolds. And when the nature preserve’s staff celebrates the arrival of spring, they do it by honoring their showcase flora: the wild azalea.

The Fifth Annual Wild Azalea Festival will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the preserve, 5665 Reynolds Road.

The event gets its name from the wild azaleas that grow at Reynolds. Staff have repeatedly said over the years that the azaleas were the favorite flower of Judge William H. Reynolds, who donated the land to the county to create the preserve decades ago.

Each year, the family-oriented event features a wide array of activities and programs for the young and the young-at-heart. Among those activities are animal exhibits and showcases from metro area nature centers which give adults and children an opportunity to touch a wide variety of animals, ranging from turtles to rats to snakes.

But there are other nature-themed activities for families to enjoy, including guided hikes, trips in a canoe, hands-on workshops and informational booths from environmental organizations.

Kids can also get flowers, lady bugs, butterflies and several other nature-oriented images painted on their faces.

Clayton County Parks and Recreation officials ask that residents who wish to attend the festival park at G.P. Babb Middle School, 5500 Reynolds Road, and take the county’s shuttle bus to and from the event.