Friday, June 26, 2009

Cherry Blossom Announces Grant and New Leadership and Executive Search

/PRNewswire/ -- Since its founding 27 years ago, the Macon Georgia's International Cherry Blossom Festival has been a tremendous boost to the Central Georgia economy. Its success this past spring once again demonstrated the strength and durability of this award-winning festival to draw thousands of visitors from across the southeast and the nation.

"Almost 99 percent of the events and activities held this year were sold out," Festival Chairman Steve Jukes said at a press conference today. "The number of sponsorships and grants was especially strong, enabling many of our events to be offered free of charge. The Festival Board is pleased to announce a $50,000 grant awarded by the Fickling Family Foundation. This grant is a match grant stemming from a fundraising campaign the board launched in June of 2008."

Jukes directly attributed much of the success of the annual festival to the business leaders, foundations and government officials who understand the significant role the Cherry Blossom Festival has in building community, increasing the city's national visibility, attracting tourists and generating business revenue.

"We express our appreciation to all of our partners for their generous support and cooperation that made the 2009 Festival a great and memorable event," he said. "This festival is the finest example of success through the cooperation of the many different public and private sectors of Central Georgia."

Indicative of the enduring support the Festival receives from the local community, Bill Fickling III, who is a past Board Chair and Festival Chair, announced that the Fickling Family Foundation has awarded a $50,000 matching grant to the Cherry Blossom Festival.

"We are indeed appreciative and fortunate to have this generous gift from this very civic-minded family," Jukes stated. "This gift from the Fickling Family Foundation is a matching grant based on the fundraising success of the Legacy Fund, which received generous support from past and present board members, trustees and friends to meet this match."

Plans are already underway for the 2010 Festival, which Jukes said he expects to be one of its best. The event is scheduled for March 19-28.

"Through ongoing sponsorships of corporations, businesses and foundations and cooperation from city and county boards, agencies and departments, we are going to once again present the best in talent, shows and activities," he promised. "We will infuse those 10 days in March with great family fun and tremendous excitement."

The 2010 festival leadership was elected at Thursday's Board of Directors meeting. Jukes will exchange his responsibilities as Festival Chairman for those as the Chair of the Board of Directors. Lee Robinson, who was the 2009 Board Chair, will serve as the 2010 Festival Chairman. Steve Farr and Thomas Wicker are moving to the Board of Directors and several new members have been added to the Board of Trustees including Renee Bumpus, Patricia Combes, Tiffany Farrow, Colonial Brian Grady, George Greer, Rhonda Levy, Allen London, David Rosenberg, David Thompson, Janie Hawk Wilhoit, and Garrett Williams.

Festival Chairman Lee Robinson also announced that the Board of Directors is seeking a new President and CEO for the Cherry Blossom Festival and Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful. The Board is seeking candidates who can take these two well-established organizations to an even higher level of success. It has a consulting service to assist with the search.

"We are looking for a dynamic and creative individual who can build on the festival's foundation of success while drawing broader support and higher attendance," said Robinson.

The Festival expects to fill the leadership post this summer. Information on the opportunity is available on the Cherry Blossom web site: www.cherryblossom.com.

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