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With a strongly profitable event behind them, Macon Cherry Blossom Festival officials are looking to expand.

President and CEO Karen Lambert said net profits from this year's festival are between $130,000 and $140,000.

Grants of $50,000 and $250,000 will be used to enlarge the festival and stage new events throughout the year, she said.

Things didn't look so bright in 2008, when a deluge canceled the festival's street party after days of rain that cut crowds at other moneymaking events.

The $125,000 loss washed away the festival's savings and threatened its future as the city considered cutting $30,000 from its share of hotel-motel tax.

The 2009 event ended with about $16,000 net profit after rain held crowds down and nearly canceled the street party again.

When the financial picture was at its darkest, the board solidified behind the festival, said Lee Robinson, who was chairman of the board of directors that year. A legacy fund was established, with board members making contributions to help present the 2009 events.

Robinson also credits interim CEO Jim Davis with keeping the festival on track and local residents for their support.

"The people voted with their feet. They let us know the festival was very important for this community and not just the people coming in from out of town," Robinson said.

The festival staff is being reorganized, with more seasonal and part-time staff and a new vice president of operations, who will be named in the near future.

The festival will present a one-day event in Central City Park that will coincide with a weekend concert sponsored by another organization in early October. Details are still being ironed out, Lambert said.

"We want to bring people to Macon all the time. We have a great city," Lambert said.

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