Yoshino cherry tree blossoms. Photo by D.J. Dammann
Macon’s International Cherry Blossom Festival is consistently listed as a top event in the Southeast. With more than 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees blooming each spring, the festival is a must-do event for festival-goers and flower lovers alike. And with ten days of activities and entertainment for the entire family, the festival lives up to its slogan, the “Pinkest Party on Earth.”
The International Cherry Blossom Festival’s roots date to 1949, when local realtor William A. Fickling, Sr., noticed an unusual tree with beautiful spring blooms in his backyard. No one seemed to know what type of tree it was. In 1952, Mr. Fickling visited Washington, D.C., and spotted one of the city's famed Yoshino cherry trees. When he later returned to Washington with a cutting from his own tree, he saw that the two trees were a perfect match. Soon thereafter, Mr. Fickling began sharing cuttings from his tree with friends and neighbors.
In the early 1970s, a newcomer to Macon, Carolyn Crayton, was inspired by the trees’ beauty. She had an idea to transform Macon into an idyllic vision in pink with thousands of Yoshino cherry trees blooming throughout the city. With the help of Mr. Fickling, the first mass planting of trees was organized in the Wesleyan Woods neighborhood. In 1982, Ms. Crayton and the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission launched the International Cherry Blossom Festival.
Today the festival spans two weekends and attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Macon. Events include free concerts, parades, cultural activities, fashion & craft shows, and an international food fair. Guided tours of local museums and attractions are available as are self-guided driving tours of the Cherry Blossom Trail, which takes in some of the most cherry blossom-filled scenery in the world.
Downtown in bloom. Photo by D.J. Dammann
Throughout the ten-day event, attendees may catch a visit with Petals, the official festival mascot, or Lacie, an actual pink poodle. Though they aren’t pink, kids and families always enjoy the festival’s Sea Lion Splash.
Other local festival favorites include free cherries & cream ice cream downtown; the annual Cherry Blossom Bed Race; nighttime tours of Ocmulgee National Monument; Tunes and Balloons live music and balloon glow event; the Cherry Blossom Street Party; opening weekend parade; and the closing weekend fireworks extravaganza. Many activities are free.
Details about the International Cherry Blossom Festival may be found on its website. The site provides information on purchasing tickets and souvenirs, event dates & times, and volunteer & sponsorship opportunities. The festival may be found on Facebook and Twitter as well.