Macon’s International Cherry Blossom Festival is the city’s largest festival and tourist event of the year. Locals enjoy Cherry Blossom as much as visitors, who travel from as far away as France, Taiwan and Japan to see the Yoshino Cherry trees blooming in the “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.”
The 2013 festival began on Friday, March 15 with an opening ceremony and ribbon cutting in Central City Park. Other Friday events included a Bengal tiger show, a “Spring Spirit” stroll featuring live actors in Riverside Cemetery, lantern-light tours of the Ocmulgee National Monument, and the Cherry Blossom gala with music by the Swingin’ Medallions. Events continue through March 24th.
Saturday afternoon, I took a stroll through Central City Park to enjoy classic festival foods like roasted corn and hand-squeezed lemonade. I steered clear of the fried butter and fried doughnut cheeseburgers, but they were available for those less concerned with their arteries. Carnival games and rides were the order of the day. In other parts of the city, groups participated in the Bed race and High Heel race to raise money for local charities. Unfortunately, I missed the Tunes and Balloons attraction at Middle Georgia State College featuring hot air balloon tether rides, a balloon glow and live music. No one person can do it all with so many things happening at once.
Sunday, I earned a sunburn as a parade judge for the It’s a Pink, Pink, Pink World parade. Along with getting a behind-the-scenes look at the floats prior to the parade, I was also seated in the VIP bleachers for a prime spot to enjoy the event. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. My fellow judges and I had a hard time picking winners for the different categories, because there were so many fantastic floats and participants. I wish we had had more prizes to bestow, but the awards were limited.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is only four days in, and already there have been too many events to list. Highlights for the rest of the week include the Cherry Blossom organ concerts at noon each day, “Cherry Blossom Tea” on Tuesday, free sightly concerts and the Coleman Hill jazz concert on Wednesday. Saturday’s annual street party will feature 38 Special, The Dirty Guv’nahs and the Atlanta Funk Society, and the annual Mulberry Street Arts Festival is always a favorite. New this year is the Food Truck Frenzy on Saturday and Sunday, which I doubt I’ll be able to resist. Who doesn’t love a good food truck, right?
There’s so much to see, and my list doesn’t even scratch the surface. Check out the official Cherry Blossom website for a complete schedule of events and to learn more about the history of Macon and its 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees.