How Bill Fickling’s grandfather cultivated a love for cherry trees
For 36 years, Macon has welcomed international visitors each spring to share the beauty of 300,000 flowering Yoshino cherry trees in a spirit of love, beauty and international friendship. Here are five of the classic attractions you don’t want to miss at this year's International Cherry Blossom Festival, held March 16-25, 2018, in Macon, Georgia.
1. Cherry Blossom Trail
Looking for this year's elusive blooms? Hop in a private car, roll along in a rented coach with a tour guide or book a 2-hour tour in a van through canopies of pale pink blooms. Cherry Blossom Trail signs guide you on a path of fabulous antebellum mansions and the home of the late William A. Fickling Sr., who discovered Macon’s first cherry tree in his yard in 1949. The Fickling family has shared tree clippings ever since, which led to Macon’s designation as Cherry Blossom Capital of the World. A tour map is available on the Cherry Blossom Festival’s website, cherryblossom.com, under Plan Your Stay.
2. Third Street Park
Who doesn't love free ice cream and complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides? Downtown Macon's hub at Third and Cherry streets comes alive each weekday during the festival. Folks flock under the flowering cherry trees to enjoy cherry ice cream cones, Coca-Cola and pink Krispy Kreme donuts from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Listen to live music and take a free carriage ride around the block between Mulberry and Cherry streets.
3. Cherry Blossom Parade
Fantastic floats, costumed performers, Express Clydesdales and marching bands parade up the painted pink stripe dividing Cherry Street and circle over to Mulberry Street. A Robins Air Force Base military flyover will roar overhead as the parade featuring international dignitaries kicks off at 4 p.m. March 18.
4. Central City Park and Pink Pancakes
Fuel your body for a full day of festival fun at Macon-Bibb County firefighters’ pink pancake breakfast March 17 and 24 during the festival from 7-10:30 a.m. at Central City Park. Stay for the shows, rides, attractions and nightly entertainment.
5. Mulberry Street Arts & Crafts, Food Truck Frenzy
Vendors from all over the nation converge on Mulberry Street on March 24-25 as shoppers stroll from booth to booth between Second and Third streets. The Middle Georgia Art Association’s popular street fair predates the Cherry Blossom Festival and is the oldest event of its kind in the area. Feast on the culinary culture craze at the Food Truck Frenzy along Third Street between Cherry and Mulberry from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. March 24 and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. March 25.