Cherry Blossom Festival president and CEO resigns

Every spring, the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World, Macon Ga., holds a 10-day festival to celebrate the blooming of over 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees. This event is very important to the Macon community, and The Cherry Blossom Festival staff maintains a chief role in the planning of the celebration.
The festival, one of the city’s biggest annual events, has recently experienced a shift in leadership with the resignation of Cherry Blossom president and CEO, Richard Brewer, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, after only a four month term in this important position.
One of the biggest changes Brewer made during his term was to cancel the Levee Fest for 2012 because the event typically lost money and created a drain on the budget.
Before taking office as The Cherry Blossom Festival president, Brewer worked in Charleston, S.C. as a partner for a consulting business called Vernoia, Enterline + Brewer, CPA LLC. He was also the co-founder of a very successful event in Chattanooga, Tenn., called the Riverbend Festival.
The Telegraph reported that Brewer described “the keys to success for a festival as developing lasting relationships with sponsors and developing loyal patrons through quality programming and modern digital technology.”
Brewer took over the presidential position from Karen Lambert in June 2012 after she left to become the Head of The Peyton Anderson Foundation. Ultimately, Brewer decided to return to Charleston, S.C. in order to be with his family and resume his consulting business.
The Cherry Blossom Festival’s Board of Directors was able to hire an interim president and CEO for the 2013 festival by picking from the same general pool of candidates that they had collected from their search four months previously.
Jake Ferro was announced as the interim president and CEO on Monday, Oct. 22. reported that Cyndey Busbee, the 2013 Cherry Blossom Festival’s chairwoman stated, “We are excited that Jake comes to us with a long-standing relationship to the Festival and [as] a friend and community supporter. We look forward to getting him up to speed with all the projects planned for the 2013 Festival.”
Ferro is the festival’s sixth president and CEO in a decade. The new interim president, who is currently 69 years old, has stated that ever since his retirement from working as CEO of Bonsal American, Inc. in Charlotte, N.C., he has missed being involved in a leadership position.
According to, while discussing the late appointment as Cherry Blossom president Ferro stated, “I think [coming in late to the planning] is very marginal, and the reason is they’ve got a great team with a great infrastructure…I hope to add my experience to this.”
Macon’s Cherry Blossom Festival is ranked as one of the Top 100 Events in North America, Top 50 Events in the U.S., and Top 20 Events in the South. The Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission developed this festival in 1982. According to, the commission formed the event around the principles of “love, beauty and international friendship.”