Weather makes or breaks an outdoor festival.
Cherry Blossom Festival organizers are not only dealing with late-blooming trees, but now the threat of inclement weather is moving the party indoors.
Saturday’s street party will be held inside the Macon City Auditorium.
In recent years, washouts frustrated those who bought tickets in advance, and the festival hasn’t always offered refunds.
Founder’s Day festivities set for Friday for Third Street Park already have been moved to the Terminal Station from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
The Coleman Hill jazz concert will be held at Cox Capitol Theatre from 6-8 p.m. Friday instead of on the hill overlooking downtown Macon.
“It’s going to be so cold that no one wants to be outside freezing,” said Lydia Moss, the festival’s marketing director.
The National Weather Service expects temperatures to drop to near freezing early Friday, which could mean a slight chance of sleet and snow.
No accumulation is expected, but some sort of precipitation — mostly rain — likely will be falling intermittently through early Sunday afternoon.
Friday afternoon is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high in the upper 50s.
After a gorgeous opening Saturday that brought thousands of people to Central City Park and to downtown Macon events and the Tunes and Balloons event, closing weekend could be in trouble.
Mulberry Street’s arts and crafts, the Food Truck Frenzy and street party are all set for Saturday, when there’s a 60 percent chance of showers and possibly and thunderstorm with a high near 60 degrees. The rain probability increases to 90 percent by Saturday night. Sunday brings a 30 percent chance of showers before 2 p.m. and a high near 70, which should be perfect for the grand finale and fireworks at dusk at Wesleyan College.
The cherry blossoms are the star attraction of Macon’s annual festival, but visitors are learning they don’t always bloom in time for the festivities.
Buds are opening at the Fickling home on Ingleside Avenue, and some of the trees near the creek are nearing full bloom, but the 360,000 other trees in Macon are in various stages.
“I think by this weekend, they are going to be out,” said Bill Fickling III, whose grandfather is a founder of the festival. “They are at the stage when they normally pop open, but the cold weather slowed them down.”
His grandfather’s records show an average peak on March 23, the birthday of the late William A. Fickling Sr.
Because Easter falls March 31, organizers did not launch the festival March 22, instead moving the start date to the 15th.
“Maybe we’re a little bit slower this year, but I’m counting on the 23rd. That’s Grandpa’s birthday, and that’s our magic day,” Fickling said.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.