As elementary school children from around the Valley prepare their Peach Blossom Festival performances, one Dinuba teacher prepares to bring a group of children for the 43rd year in a row. After attending the festival as part of his student teaching in 1976, Greg Olson, a sixth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School and Fresno State alumnus, has returned every year – bringing over 1,000 students from Dinuba through the years.

“The process that each student goes through – memorizing a piece of literature, performing it in front of an audience and getting judged on their performance – is an experience a student will never forget,” said Olson. “I have former students that stop by to see me and they still remember their memorized selection.”

The 61st annual Peach Blossom Festival will be held on March 14 and 15 on the Fresno State campus and is centered at the University Theatre in the Speech Arts building.

Olson said he enjoys watching his students experience a university campus and meet college students from all over the world.

“It is probably one of the best experiences an elementary student can have,” said Olson. “The benefits of this festival reaches our young people in ways that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. The effects of this experience go beyond our imagination.”

Christina M. Wells, Peach Blossom Festival director, also recalls her childhood experiences with the festival fondly.

“As a Fresnan, I participated in the festival as a child, as did my mother and her sisters. Upon returning to Fresno and resuming a lecturer position at Fresno State, I volunteered every year as a judge. I have an innate sense of pride and belonging with the festival,” said Wells.

Fresno State’s Communication Department hosts the student-run event, which promotes the appreciation of literature and the value of knowledge to nearly 5,000 young students throughout the San Joaquin Valley through performance and interpretation.

Fresno State Communication Department students are recruited to organize and run the festival by the director based on their attitude, responsibility, dedication and personality. The result is a committed team that is passionate about instilling a love of literature into the youth of the Valley.

The young students who participate in the festival are given the opportunity to gain early experience with public speaking and attendees get to explore Fresno State and interact with current students and staff. Fresno State mascots Victor E. and Timeout will make an appearance at the festival and Fresno State athletes will sign autographs for their young fans.

Parking during Peach Blossom is $4 in any green lot.