This year’s Cherry Blossom Festival fashion show will have a different feel — and look.
For one thing, it’s moving to the City Auditorium. For another, Terrell Sandefur’s SoChi Productions is staging the event.
Oh, and it will feature a cross-dresser.
Adam Braswell, who has performed at several First Friday events downtown as “Deonna Sage,” is scheduled to participate in Thursday’s show.
Sandefur said he’s looking to jazz up the event.
“We want to make it cooler, more hip,” he said.
Festival organizers who contracted the show to SoChi Productions said they were eager to see the final product.
“He’s planned an incredible show,” said Karen Lambert, the festival’s president and CEO. “There’s going to be lots of surprises.”
At least one of those surprises isn’t sitting well with some folks. Radio talk-show host Chris Krok is protesting Braswell’s inclusion.
Lambert said her office has gotten a few calls both in favor and against Braswell’s participation, but she said the show is supposed to be just a fun afternoon for everyone.
“There’s no plans to change it,” she said. “(The show) is for entertainment purposes only. The festival isn’t trying to make any sort of social or moral statement. We’re simply presenting a fashion show as something that people can enjoy.”
Lambert said that to her knowledge, no one has asked for a refund on their ticket. All of the tickets for the brunch and floor seating have sold out, but there are still $20 balcony tickets available, she said. She also asked that people reserve judgment until after they’ve seen the show, and that she welcomes any constructive criticism.
Sandefur said the controversy has sparked interest in the show.
“Oh yeah, people are excited,” he said. “I don’t think selecting a drag queen is a big deal.”
Sandefur said he wanted to make the show “inclusive, not exclusive.” He said he discussed the matter with Lambert and recommended that she run it by the festival’s board of directors and the event’s sponsors. Nothing changed after that, he said.
“I’m all about the community,” he said. “I don’t want to put a black eye on this city. ... Macon is not a big city, but it’s not a small town, either.”
Sandefur said all of this year’s fashions came from local boutiques rather than national department stores as a way of promoting Macon businesses.
Among the other models for the event are Dele Reichert, the wife of Macon Mayor Robert Reichert; festival founder Carolyn Crayton; the festival’s queens; and several personalities from local TV stations. Telegraph Business Editor Harold Goodridge and reporter Liz Fabian, who is serving as co-announcer with Sandefur, also are part of the show.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.