Wanderlust America

National Cherry Festival Celebrations in Michigan

As the shores of Michigan lake get filled up by the sweet cherry aroma during the summers in Traverse City, the citizens call for the National Cherry Celebration. The festival celebrates the rich cherry growing heritage of the city through a week-long celebration in the month of July. This year’s festival will take place from 29th June to 6th July. The city gets vibrant, and thousands of people reach the city to taste the ever-famous cherry cakes. Let’s dive deeper to virtually celebrate the National Cherry Festival. 

Famous Cherries


The legacy of the National Cherry Festival started in the year 1926 where it was called “Blessing of the Blossom” festival. It was renamed in 1931. The festival was mainly started to support the local cherry growing industry. With time the industry has flourished, and the festival has become a summer attraction to Traverse City. The National Cherry Festival attracts more than 500,000 people from all over the world to take part in the colorful celebrations. 

Celebrations at National Cherry Festival

  • Parades: Community Royal Parade and Cherry Royale Parade are two of the most amazing parades that visitors look forward to. Community Royale Parade coming up on 4th July, celebrates the past, present and future generation of the Traverse city cherry growing industry by featuring the juniors of the city who would take forward the legacy of it. Cherry Royale Parade that celebrated the whole cherry growing community through marching bands, decorated floats and a meeting of the new Cherry Queen is going to be held on the final day of the festival.  
National Cherry festival
  • Cherry related events: Many events and competitions are held that involve cherries in the game like the Cherry Pit-Spit contest, Cherry Farmers market that serves more than just cherries, Kids cherry pie eating contest, Adult Cherry Pie Eating Contest, etc. All these events are great for a fun time at the festival. 
  • Live concerts: Each day at around 6pm the National Cherry Festival celebrations will scale to a new level through live music concerts. This year Pepsi Bayside music is all set to feature the artists like- Stone Temple Pilots, Fresh Horses & Insiders, Bret Michaels, Leanne Morgan, GOO GOO Dolls, and many more. 
  • Carnival Rides and Games: The festivals host a number of games, rides and exhibits that provide for a delightful time for the visitors. Events like U.S. Coast Guard Open Ramp where visitors can watch air shows and interact with pilots, Balance Bike Race for kid, Kids Club for an array of fun-filled activities for the kids, Kids Cherry Teddy Bear Tea where kids can enjoy an evening tea with their Bear companions, Cherry Pie Bike Ride for adults to enjoy a scenic and relaxing bike ride, and much more. 
  • Air Show: The most awaited event at the National Cherry Festival is the US Navy Blue Angels Air Show. This is a free event going to be held on 29th and 30th June where the expert pilots will showcase their skills of high-flying aviation through shows and formations. Not just this but this year the Air Show will also feature aerobatic performances and displays of modern fighter jets. If you are an aviation enthusiast or simply looking for a good time with the family, this show is perfect for you. 
  • Cherry Queen Pageant: The historic tradition of crowning the Cherry Queen has always been the most awaited event at the National Cherry Festival. The participating contestants take part in a series of events throughout the week and the best one gets the crown. These women are those who are involved in the community work and celebrate the cherry tradition. 
Air Show

National Cherry Festival Brings Culinary Delight

Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival offers a cornucopia of delicious dishes—from cherry pies to cherry pastries—all available for your gustatory satisfaction. There are also innumerable food items and drinks made here to suit the most discriminating palate. Here are some examples from this banquet of delights: 

  • Cherry Pies, Pastries: Fill your pie hole with traditional cherry pies or a succulent turnover or a most delectable tartlet filled with fresh local cherries. 
  • Cherry BBQ: Savor the flavor of montain hickory smoked brisket crossed with sweet cherries. 
  • Cherry Ice Cream: Top off a hot summer afternoon with some truly refreshing sweet cherry ice cream. 
  • Cherry Lemonade: Wash it all down with cherry lemonade, tart and slightly sweet both. Quite the thing for those hot summer days. 
  • Chocolate-Covered Cherries: You simply must have a candy-coated cherry while attending the festival. 
  • Cherry Wines and Beers: In this place of world-class wineries, remember that local cherry wines and brews are here to stay. 
  • Cherry Cocktails: The cherry abounds in mixed drinks — mojitos, margaritas, daiquiris, etc. 
Cherry Delights

At the National Cherry Festival, one of the best celebrations is its cherry eating contest and other similar events. 

  • Cherry Pie Eating Contest: This is one of the most popular events, where contestants race to see who can eat the most cherry pie in a limited amount of time. It’s a fun and messy competition that draws large crowds of enthusiastic spectators. 
  • Cherry Pit Spitting Contest: A contest where contestants compete to spit the cherries to see who can spit them to the farthest. The person whose cherry reaches the maximum distance is the winner. 
  • Cherry Recipe Contest: Whether it’s a classic cherry pie or something more adventurous, both professional chefs and amateur cooks can submit their best cherries as desserts, main courses, drinks or anything else that comes into their head. In this contest, the border between ripe cherries and unripe ones has been erased, and imagination reigns. 
  • Cherry Pie Baking Contest: Competing bakers present their interpretations of the perfect cherry pie. Entries are graded according to such criteria as flavor, presentation and originality, of course. Drawing on long-held traditions of cake baking through the ages, this contest honors craftsmanship. The cherry pie itself is an icon of baking. 

Location and How to Get there

National Cherry Festival takes place in Traverse City and is centered on the shores of West Grand Traverse Bay at Open Space Park. Utilizing a number of parks as well as other venues in Traverse City downtown area, festival activities and events are spread over quite a relatively large area to meet the high density of visitors. 

To reach there, if you opt for a flight, you will reach the Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) and from there you can easily book a taxi to the venue. If you are in Traverse city or nearby, look for a rental car, taxi, bus service or a train to reach your destination in no time. 

National Cherry Festival Fireworks

Throughout its decade-long existence, the National Cherry Festival has provided tens of thousands of people with happy memories. People visit and revisit to immerse themselves into a fun-filled celebration and cherish the cherry delicacies. In every sense imaginable, Traverse Bay is charming beyond compare, and this is precisely what gives the summer festival its everlasting appeal. 

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