Levee Fest greeted by perfect weather

Aiyanah Gaines was having about $1,000 worth of fun with a $1 balloon after a day at the Macon Levee Fest on Saturday.

“It’s not going to pop. I won’t let it,” said Gaines, 5, confirming the afternoon joy.

Tavell Gaines, her father, was glad to be out in the near perfect October weather, he said.

“This has been a great day for the kids. There’s a lot for them to do down there at Central City Park and it’s just good to keep them busy and outside,” Gaines said, keeping a watchful eye on his daughter.

The Levee Fest matched up food and amusement vendors with outdoor music and a barbecue contest. Jefferson native and singer-songwriter Corey Smith headlined the festival Saturday night, which was capped with a 10 p.m. fireworks show.

Named for the protective levee berm that separates the Ocmulgee River from Central City Park, Levee Fest was conceived as a way to showcase Macon talent with a fall event akin to the spring Cherry Blossom Festival.

“The Cherry Blossom Festival packs out all our hotels and businesses every year, but we want to spread that business out into other months. Hoteliers and business people across Middle Georgia asked us to come up with something that could bolster fall business,” said Cherry Blossom Festival marketing director Stacy Campbell. “They all said the Cherry Blossom Festival is great, but wanted something more. ... We’re giving it to them.”

Campbell estimated about 2,500 people would attend the Levee Fest, and hopes it grows in the years to come.

“We had our first Cherry Blossom Ball Drop event this year at New Year’s,” Campbell said. “That went very well, and now Levee Fest looks like a hit. We want to develop more attractive venues for Macon for the rest of the year.”

That’s sounds good for Aiyanah Gaines, who wants “more balloons, more balloons” as she told her smiling father after departing the festival.