The cherry blossoms are blooming, and it’s festival time again in Macon.
Macon organizes the 10-day long festival each March to celebrate its world-renowned 350,000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees.
Congressional Records established Macon as the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.
William A. Fickling Sr., a local realtor, first discovered the tree in Macon while strolling through his backyard in 1949. On a business trip in Washington D.C., he noticed a similar cherry blossom to the one in Macon and he began sharing them with the community.
Now the planting of these trees is part of an effort to the “Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission,” which established in 1974.
Through the blooming of the cherry blossoms, the “celebration highlights love, beauty, and international friendship,” said Stacy Campbell, the director of sales and marketing, for the event.
The celebration has over one hundred events, 80 percent of which are free to the public. Some of the annual events with free admission include the International Food Fair and the grand finale with fireworks.
Central City Park hosts nightly city concerts from March 16-25 including The Fabulous Boomers, Big Mike & the Booty Papas, Sons of Sailors and more.
Flash Foods & Georgia Farm Bureau present the Kachunga and Alligator Show. Also in downtown Macon, there will be a bed race and a parade. All of these events are of no cost to attendees.
A few events that require the purchase of a ticket at the festival include a gala, a comedy show and a fashion show. This year the festival will have camel rides, a petting zoo and a helicopter ride.
This festival has traditions that returning attendees are familiar with. Some of the traditions include an opening and closing worship service and a commencement ceremony in Central City Park.
In addition, Campbell said, “Dignitaries and visiting festival VIPs such as Tournament of Roses come for support” each year.
The Cherry Blossom Festival committee begins a Think Pink campaign every last week of February.
Campbell said, “Locals decorate their houses, cars, and businesses in pink to celebrate the coming of the festival.” In preparation, the city hangs banners on street lamps and paints a pink line down Cherry Street.
The committee, a non-profit organization, seeks sponsorships and plans the events for the festival beginning in July.
To raise funds, the Cherry Blossom Festival Committee “produces a fall barbecue and music festival, pageants in November, and a New Year’s Eve Cherry Blossom Drop,” said Campbell.
For more information about the Cherry Blossom Festival’s events, history, and sponsors, visit www.cherryblossom.com.