Festival extends hours

CONYERS - Festival-goers will have a couple of extra hours today to enjoy the 28th Annual Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival.

Heavy rains and thunderstorms kept many away from the opening day of the festival Saturday, so organizers have extended the hours today in hopes that crowds will take advantage of the clear, sunny skies that are forecasted.

"We will stay open until 7 p.m. (today)," said Jennifer Bexley, director of the Georgia International Horse Park, where the Cherry Blossom Festival is held. "We wanted to give people the extra opportunity to shop and enjoy the festival."

Approximately 300 vendors of arts and crafts, food and entertainment signed on to participate in the two-day Cherry Blossom Festival that usually draws crowds from around the region.

Bexley said some of the vendors requested Saturday to extend the hours in light of heavy downpours and threatening storms.

"We're going around now to all the vendors letting them know we will remain open until 7," she said around 11 a.m. Saturday. "Vendors are certainly not required to keep their booths open, but we're just trying to give everyone as much opportunity as we can."

Heavy rains and strong thunderstorms continued throughout the day Saturday.

Bexley said the plans were to keep the festival open through 5 p.m. Saturday, unless severe weather caused them to shut down early.

Today, however, the National Weather Service predicts mostly sunny weather with a high near 57 degrees.

Admission to the Cherry Blossom Festival is free but parking is $5 a vehicle. Gates will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. Organizers ask that attendees contribute donations to Rockdale Emergency Relief's community Food Bank. A $2 coupon toward the purchase of a commemorative festival T-shirt will be given to those who donate.