International Cherry Blossom Festival
Macon, Georgia — March 17–April 3, 2016
Spring is now here, as the days are getting longer and warmer. The birds are chirping and the bees are buzzing and dancing until they find a blossom on which to land. Along with the season of rebirth comes the 24th Annual International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia.
Each March, Macon becomes a pink, cotton-spun paradise when 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees bloom in all their glory. For ten days, festival-lovers are treated to one of the most extravagant displays of springtime color in the nation as they visit the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.
The story begins when William A. Fickling Sr., a local realtor, discovered the first Yoshino cherry tree in Macon while strolling about in his backyard. The year was 1949. Thanks to Fickling’s propagating efforts, thousands of trees have since been planted around Macon. The idea of a Cherry Blossom Festival didn’t take root until one day at a company picnic Fickling spoke to a woman named Carolyn Crayton after admiring the Yoshino’s unique beauty. While discussing the trees, Carolyn came up with an idea.
“I shared with him a dream of mine, one where the entire town was bursting with thousands of the graceful pink cherry trees. I asked if he would donate trees to plant in my neighborhood of Wesleyan Woods, and he generously agreed, helping my dream become a reality,” said the future festival founder.
To start the project, Fickling agreed to donate the trees if Crayton would organize the planting. In a community wide effort, families, companies, and volunteers began planting what would eventually add up to 500 Yoshino cherry trees by 1973. Macon was now blossoming pink every March.
As executive director of the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, Crayton proposed officially launching a Cherry Blossom Festival in celebration of the beauty of the trees and also to honor Fickling for his contributions.
In 1982, the International Cherry Blossom Festival was born, which was built on three basic principles—love, beauty, and international friendship.
Since it’s grassroots beginnings, the festival has become one of the Top 20 Events in the South, Top 50 Events in the US, and Top 100 Events in North America. The festival has since expanded from thirty events over three days to a month-long celebration featuring hundreds of events entertaining people of all ages and backgrounds.
In 2014, Mercer University Press published a history of the festival entitled The Pinkest Party on Earth: Macon, Georgia’s International Cherry Blossom Festival written by Ed Grisamore, award-winning author and then columnist for The Macon Telegraph.
The 34th Annual International Cherry Blossom Festival is now underway. For additional information, visit their website or contact the Festival Headquarters at 478-330-7050.
Book lovers should mark their calendar for the Cherry Blossom Authors Luncheon on Tuesday, March 29, at 11:30 am at the Idle Hour Country Club. Treat yourself to a lovely Southern lunch and hear three fine Southern authors speak and sign books.