WILKES-BARRE – The 41st annual Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off in Kirby Park at 11 a.m. today, bringing a mixture of tried-and-true favorites as well as some new entertainment for all.
Event organizer and city Special Events Coordinator Patricia Hughes considers the festival the official start of spring — and community togetherness.
“I think that the Cherry Blossom is the kickoff to spring. I feel that we can leave winter behind. I think festivals promote communal harmony, and they are a great place to gather and they relieve stress from a hectic work week,” she said. “It’s great to see everyone come out and support our local vendors.”
Roughly 20 will be in attendance this year, selling everything from potato pancakes to empanadas. While grabbing a bite to eat, attendees can browse offerings from a selection of artisans selling handmade goods, jewelry and more.
The festival runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday.
Other features include amusement rides, games and a petting zoo that’s sure to widen children’s smiles. A character artist and face painter will also be available.
For those interested in the performing arts, the 12th annual Pirouettes in the Park is set for today. Hughes said the event will feature performers from more than 10 area dance schools who are eager to show off their skills.
“Pirouettes in the Park began several years ago and was a big hit, so we want to continue with it,” she said. “It is one way that (the dancers) can show the public a preview of their hard work and dedication to dance.”
The HoleShots Car Club will host its show at the festival for the first time Sunday, featuring a wide selection of classic and new vehicles.
For those more interested in the idea of being crowned queen, Hughes said the festival pageant will return, starting at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Concluding Sunday’s schedule is a list of live entertainment, such as Stephen L. Perillo and The Followers Praise Band as well as national recording artist Benjamin Horrevoets.
As for the weather forecast, there will be rain around both days, with highs in the 60s today and a little cooler for Sunday.
“I am hoping for good weather, so keep your fingers crossed,” Hughes said.