Cherry Blossom Festival officials, who focus much of their energy each year on the springtime blossom festival, are creating another event for the fall.
Festival President and CEO Karen Jordan Lambert announced Monday that the first Levee Fest is set for Oct. 2 at Central City Park. Lambert said creating the new event is a way for the festival to expand its presence throughout the year, much like it did last Dec. 31 with its New Year’s Eve ball drop.
“The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is the signature spring event for Macon, but festival organizers are working diligently to assure that the outstanding programming for which the festival has become known occurs throughout the year,” she said.
While other Macon festivals have struggled in falls past, Lambert said there are a lot of elements in place that could make Levee Fest a success.
“I think it’s at the perfect time,” she said. “The venue, the atmosphere and the environment will all be good. The mix of music will be good. I expect it to be the beginning of a very long tradition and a festival that will grow.”
Lambert said Levee Fest is a way to promote tourism in Middle Georgia during what is usually a relatively quiet time of year for travel. One of the reasons the specific October date was chosen this year, Lambert said, is because the University of Georgia football team will be playing in Colorado that same weekend. In addition, NewTown Macon is holding the Macon Reunion 2010 event then, and people will be in town.
“It’s very exciting to have a new event, especially in the fall,” said Ruth Sykes, vice president of media relations and marketing for the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “(Central City Park) is an incredible venue to have it.”
Among the events planned for Levee Fest are a barbecue cookoff, a children’s event, vendors and fireworks. The festival features several musical guests, including headliner Corey Smith of Athens.
Tickets are set at $10 with children under 12 getting in free before 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.leveefest.com.
The festival will get an early start Oct. 1 with a concert by the Luke Bryan Farm Tour at Luther Williams Field. Tickets for that concert are $20 and can be purchased at www.lukebryan.com.
The Medical Center of Central Georgia will be organizing a booth at the festival because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cyndy Busbee, an assistant vice president at the Medical Center, said hospital officials talked with Cherry Blossom Festival officials about using the color pink for its monthlong “Paint The Town Pink” campaign. That campaign partners the Medical Center with Bunko For Breast Cancer, the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen For The Cure to educate the public about breast cancer awareness through a monthlong series of events. “Paint The Town Pink” is sponsoring pink fireworks at Levee Fest.
“(The Cherry Blossom Festival) introduced us to this event, and we decided to collaborate on something with a definite direction,” Busbee said.
Lambert said the board of directors came up with the idea last winter to put on a fall event but didn’t get the ball rolling on organizing Levee Fest until May, after the conclusion of this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival.
Lee Robinson, chairman of the festival’s board of directors, said the board has envisioned other events at other times of the year besides the Cherry Blossom Festival.
But it was Lambert’s leadership that finally brought those plans to fruition, first with the New Year’s Eve ball drop (co-sponsored with NewTown Macon) and now with Levee Fest.
“We need to be involved year-round, and now we’re equipped to do that,” said Robinson, a former Macon mayor. “It made little sense that we’d concentrate on just one event. ... We’re trying to do different things. This will bring attention to (the Cherry Blossom Festival) and keep it in the forefront.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.