By Sarah Sevy, student in the Department of Communication
Before performance sessions, students and their chaperones eagerly await the start of their session. In the hallway outside of the John Wright Theater, a small group of students practices their lines and choreography. Underneath the trees, other students relax while their chaperones pick up registration packets.
While some teachers have been bringing their students to Peach Blossom for decades, for others, this year was their first time at CSU Fresno. From homeschool families with a solo performance to schools participating in all performance categories and large groups of 25 kids or more, the variety of performances at this festival thoroughly showcases the diverse application of communicative arts.
In one classroom, a pair of students recited “Green Eggs and Ham.” The beloved tale from Dr. Seuss that was integral in our own childhoods is now playing an important role in the lives of a younger generation. Delivered with the type of enthusiasm only existent in fourth-graders, “Green Eggs and Ham” had never been as exhilarating! The tone and volume of these kids’ delivery carried with it an excitement that was genuinely enjoyed by the audience and judges.
Even though they are called judges, they are more like evaluators. The Peach Blossom Festival is not a competition to be won; it showcases talent and skill. The judges, usually Fresno State students and faculty, are provided brief instruction on their roles in addition to the standard evaluation forms for performances.
In 2020, Covid-19 caused the first-ever cancellation in the history of the Peach Blossom Festival, and the 2021 festival was entirely virtual. In years past, up to 6,000 students participated in performing various forms of Speech Arts. From oral interpretation to poem recitals, participants showcase their skills and gain invaluable experience.
Despite setbacks due to the pandemic, the Communication department, whose students are solely responsible for organizing and overseeing the event, enthusiastically launched this year’s efforts. The logistics of the performances are handled by the Peach Blossom scheduling team. Before any scheduling takes place, this team must reserve as many classrooms as possible to accommodate all the potential performances. The team must also work closely with the judge’s team because each location where performances are scheduled requires judges to be present.
After the performance session was complete, many schools stayed on campus to explore. The most popular attraction for the students was the athlete’s corner. Student-athletes from various Fresno State sports teams volunteer their time to pose for pictures, perform short meet-and-greets and provide autographs to all the students who visited them.
There are more teams responsible for organizing the Peach Blossom Festival than the scheduling, judges, and athlete’s teams previously mentioned. The registration, outreach, facilities, chaperones, t-shirts, website, and certificates teams are also vital to preparing and implementing the festival. All these teams comprise Fresno State students working together to successfully bring about a truly extraordinary experience for kids throughout the Central Valley.
This year’s 64th annual Peach Blossom Festival marked the beginning of a return to normalcy for students. This first post-Covid festival drew nearly 1,000 students, plus parents, chaperones, and spectators, to the Fresno State campus. For some, this unique experience may be what inspires them to return to this very campus and carry the festival well into the future. Peach Blossom will return in Spring 2023 with aspirations to inspire even more students to participate.