It’s that time of the year when those big yellow trash cans are placed on the lawns and little feet scamper throughout the campus. That’s right, the Peach Blossom Festival.
The annual event is an oral interpretation festival in which approximately 5,000 elementary students from around the Valley gather at Fresno State to recite poems in front of the public.
“It’s known to be the longest-running program on Fresno State campus,” said Christina Wells, Peach Blossom Festival director.
Young students throughout the Valley prepare for the two-day event on Thursday and Friday by choosing and practicing a poem that they perform in front of judges, faculty and peers.
The young participants gain a positive experience by practicing public speaking, visiting the campus and motivating them to attend Fresno State in the future, Wells said.
The festival is a student-run event hosted by the Fresno State communication department, where college students are able to participate as chaperones and judges. Students are recruited to organize and run the festival by the director.
“The students who are participating in the Peach Blossom class get to experience what it is like to do event planning on a large scale,” said member of the Peach Blossom’s publicity team, Kelsey Chavez. “The overall benefit is having a positive impact on young students.”
Participants from Delano to Livingston are expected for the occasion.
However, one teacher has been recognized for bringing a group of children for the 43rd year in a row.
Dinuba teacher Doug Olsen is a sixth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School and a Fresno State alumnus. He has returned every year after first attending the festival as a part of his student teaching in 1976.
He has brought over 1,000 students from Dinuba throughout the years.
“It’s stories like this one that show how important this festival really is to our community and the lasting impact it has,” said Chavez.
The festival will take place on campus but is centered at the University Theatre in the Speech Arts Building.
Fresno State mascots Victor E. and Timeout will be present, along with Fresno State athletes signing autographs. Parking in any green lot is $4.
“No one else in the Valley does anything like this on such a large scale,” Chavez said. “Fresno State is the only venue to host so many students at once.”