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'I love when people shop small': Downtown businesses prepare for Cherry Blossom festival

Businesses have prepared new pastries, pink drinks, and fashion look books for the festival rush. In 2022, the festival saw 3.5 million people in its 9 days.

MACON, Ga. — The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is just 5 days away!

It's recognized by the International Festivals and Events Association as one of the best festivals in the world, and showcases the beautiful blooming trees and the booming downtown businesses of Macon.

13WMAZ's Megan Western talked to a few of them about how they're preparing for the crowds.

In 2022, the festival brought in 3.5 million people - including people who attended more than once. 

Marisa Rodgers with Visit Macon says 30,000 visitors came from over 50 miles away. 

Now, downtown businesses are preparing for those extra guests. 

"We've been thinking about making a cherry blossom gelato which would be something around cherry and vanilla flavors in it," says Mariyah Goldsmith.

She is a barista at Decadent Dessert Bar. Goldsmith says they've been preparing for the rush for over a week. They plan to promote their Cherry Blossom Refresher which they serve all year around.

They are also highlighting pink drinks like their new Strawberry Cloud. 

"We'll add strawberry syrup, and our sweet cream to it. It looks like this nice pink drink, with this nice white cloud dripping into it, and it will have a white cloud dripping into it with strawberry bits on top. It's really cute," says Goldsmith.

With thousands of new customers, she says they get busy during the festival.

"As long as there is enough people working to be able to take care of the workload it can get exciting, but also it might seem a little overwhelming," says Goldsmith.

So starting Thursday, they'll have more employees on deck. Other stores say they're increasing hours. 

"Monday through Thursday we'll be open from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.,  Friday and Saturday we'll be open from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.," says Abbi Bunn.

Bunn works at Frankie's Boutique, and says they're making sure you look your best for the party.

"We came up with a cherry blossom look book, of course the outfits have pink in them," says Bunn.

She says she's excited for folks to shop the local businesses.

"I love when events happen downtown because it brings us business and I love when people shop small," says Bunn.

On average the festival brings in $3 million dollars to the area. 

Marisa Rodgers says it has a big impact on local hotels with most running between 80 - 85% occupancy. Rodgers says this year they hope to have an even bigger impact.

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