Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
Organizers of Macon’s annual International Cherry Blossom Festival held every spring are also planning this year’s European Union Dinner to take place Thursday, Nov. 9.

The sixth annual dinner, which will have as its keynote speaker Matti Anttonen, minister, deputy chief of mission of the Finnish Embassy in Washington, will be held at the Idle Hour Golf & Country Club in Macon.

Individuals interested in attending the dinner for $150 per seat should contact Courtney Anderson, event coordinator, at (478) 751-7417.

Proceeds for the dinner will go to the March 16-27 International Cherry Blossom Festival that is scheduled to feature exhibits and representatives from Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Started 25 years ago, Macon’s 10-day Cherry Blossom Festival operates on a $1.1 million budget featuring international and local exhibits of arts, crafts, dance, photography and nightly concerts, according to Wright Tilley, president and CEO of the festival.

Mr. Tilley said that the festival has always had an international theme, because Macon’s Yoshino cherry tress that inspired the celebration, are native to Japan.

By taking over the organization of the European Union dinner, Mr. Tilley hopes that he will be able to meet even more international contacts that would want to participate in future Cherry Blossom Festivals.

“The dinner will help us to develop new relationships with various consulate and government offices and will help us feature countries that we have not showcased in the past,” said Mr. Tilley.

Mr. Tilley explained that Bruce Allen, who is chair of the International Cherry Blossom Festival’s Featured Nation’s division, is chairing the upcoming E.U. dinner.

Mr. Allen worked for several years with the dinner’s founder and former organizer, Macon lawyer Christopher Smith.

Mr. Smith was recently named honorary consul of Denmark for middle and southern Georgia, and he will be honored during a reception before the E.U. dinner.

For more information on the festival, visit