Gala an elegant start to Cherry Blossom Festival

Telegraph correspondentMarch 16, 2012 

This year the Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary and the gala will be the big kick off event.

“It’s always the first night of the festival and it’s a chance for everyone to dress to the nines. It’s black tie optional, which means that ladies can dress in their best pinks and men can wear tuxes,” said Stacy Campbell, director of sales and marketing for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

With an average guest turnout of about 600 the past few years, Campbell is expecting a bigger turnout than ever this year.

In addition to the Cherry Blossom Festival Royal Court, there will be live entertainment from the Tams, the Drifters and the Japanese drumming group Matsuriza Taiko Drummers

“Having the Matsuriza Taiko Drummers back is very exciting. They were here when we celebrated our 25th anniversary and we’re so happy to have them back this year. They’re located at Epcot at Disney (World) and they have a lot of fans all over the world. We are really focusing on aspects of our Asian heritage this year,” Campbell said.

“You will see the influences in the food and the decorations, as well as the music.”

Tickets for the event are $62.50, with tables for eight being sold for $500.

“We still have tickets available for this event,” Campbell said.

“It’s always a fun evening, filled with anticipation for the rest of the festival. Of course, our Royal Court will be there, with Cherry Blossom Queen Abigail Jones, who is a student from Wesleyan College. Our princesses this year are Andrea Brown and Kaicee Yates, who are both high school students in Macon. Our Senior Queen is Sheila Sheftall Barnes. Miss Georgia Michaela Lackey will be with us as well.”

The gala offers heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

“This event is where we greet dignitaries from our featured nations, Japan, Taiwan and the UK, as well as visitors from our sister cities in France and Russia,” Campbell said.

“Also, we have the chance to talk to representatives of four visiting festivals, including some from the Tournament of Roses, who, of course, host the Rose Bowl. It’s a good chance to showcase what our festival is about and to get ideas for the future.”

“The initial motto for the Cherry Blossom Festival is still valid,” Campbell said. “It’s celebrating love, beauty and international friendship. This is our chance to show off our love for our city, to celebrate the 300,000 cherry blossom trees in bloom, and to welcome people from all over the state, the region and the world to see Macon and to celebrate it with us.”

“This is going to be a wonderful event and a fantastic Cherry Blossom Festival and we are very excited to welcome people to it and start the party,” she said.

Cherry Blossom Festival Gala

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Macon City Auditorium, 415 First St.

Information: 301-5470,

Cost: $62.50

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