Delving into the Traverse City Cherry Festival: An Overview

Welcome to Traverse City on Lake Michigan, where the National Traverse City Cherry Festival reigns supreme. Held annually, the dates for the 2024 National Cherry Festival are June 29 to July 6. If you’re looking to learn more about this one-of-a-kind event, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into the details!

Quick Facts: The National Cherry Festival by the Numbers

The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City is a beloved annual event that has a rich multi-generational history. Here are some key stats to give you an idea of the celebration’s scope:

  • Founded in: 1925
  • Duration: 8 days (usually the first full week of July)
  • Attendees: 500,000+ visitors each year
  • Events: 150+ different activities

These events span everything from air shows to parades to cherry-pit spitting contests. Rest assured, there’s no shortage of cherry-themed fun.

A Rich History: The Origins and Evolution of the Festival

The roots of the National Cherry Festival go all the way back to 1910 when a Traverse City resident organized a small cherry-themed event known as the Blessing of the Blossoms. Come 1925, the festival as we know it today took shape, with the Cherry Festival standing true to its heritage of cherries and Traverse City’s recognition as the Cherry Capital of the World.

Since then, the festival has gone through several transformations, with a brief hiatus during World War II and a major revival in the 1960s. Today, the Traverse City Cherry Festival is an exciting and vibrant gathering that both locals and tourists look forward to each year.

And the cherries themselves remain at the heart of it all, not only available for purchase at the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market, but also incorporated into unique and mouth-watering culinary creations throughout the festival.

So, if you find yourself holidaying in Northern Michigan during the first full week of July, you know where to go for an unforgettable cherry-loving experience. Enjoy the sights, tastes, and good vibes that have made the Traverse City Cherry Festival a cherished tradition for almost a century.

Planning Your Visit

Marking the Calendar: Festival Dates and Schedule

Are you ready for a cherry-filled adventure? Be sure to set aside some time from June 29-July 6, 2024, for the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan. This beloved annual event offers a wide range of activities, food, and entertainment for visitors of all ages. Keep an eye on the event calendar to stay updated on specific events and their timings.

Preparing for the Festival: Tips for Visitors

As you plan your visit to Traverse City, here are a few tips to ensure your experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible:

Admission and attendance: Attendance at the festival is open to everyone, however, some specific events might require admission fees or pre-registration. Be sure to check the event details ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Accommodation: Traverse City attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world during the National Cherry Festival. It’s a good idea to book your accommodations well in advance to have a comfortable and convenient stay.

Transportation and Parking: Traverse City offers various parking options during the event. Be sure to get there early if you’re driving, as the parking spaces can fill up quickly. Alternatively, consider using public transportation during your visit.

Packing essentials: Traverse City’s weather can be unpredictable during the festival, ranging from sunny to rainy. Be prepared by packing a mix of clothing for various weather conditions, including comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a light jacket or umbrella.

Get involved: The National Cherry Festival relies on its amazing community of volunteers. If you’d like to get more involved during your visit, consider volunteering. Reach out to the event organizers to see how you can contribute your time and talents.

Festival Highlights

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Main Attractions: What Not to Miss at the Festival

Here’s a rundown of the top highlights:

  • Parades: Don’t miss the colorful and lively parades, featuring floats, marching bands, and entertainers.
  • Entertainment: A lineup of musicians, comedians, and performers will grace the stages throughout the festival.
  • Games & Competitions: Test your skills in cherry pit-spitting contests, baking competitions, and various carnival games.
  • Classic Car Cruise: Step back in time as you admire the collection of vintage automobiles cruising through the streets.
  • Open Ramp Event: Get an up-close and personal experience at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City.

Cherry Blossoms and More: The Beauty of the Festival

The Traverse City Cherry Festival began in 1925 as the “Blessing of the Blossoms” to celebrate the area’s abundant cherry crop. Since then, the festival has grown into a week-long event showcasing the region’s natural beauty and its world-record tart cherry harvest. Here’s how you can truly appreciate the visual treat provided by the festival:

Cherry Blossoms: Traverse City’s cherry orchards come to life with breathtaking blossoms during the festival. Take a leisurely stroll or guided tour to marvel at the stunning sight of cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Lake Michigan: The festival takes place along the shores of Lake Michigan, offering picturesque views and refreshing breezes while you enjoy the various attractions.

Downtown Traverse City: The festival transforms the vibrant downtown area into a bustling hub of activity, with street vendors, local shops, and delightful eateries offering delicious cherry-themed treats.

Culinary Delights

Cherry-Inspired Cuisine: Exploring the Food Stalls

During the Traverse City Cherry Festival, you’ll be delighted by the wide range of cherry-inspired dishes available throughout the event. At the various food stalls, you can treat your taste buds to some delicious treats, such as cherry pie, cherry-infused barbecue sauce on your favorite grilled meats, cherry salsa, and even cherry cheesecake!

At the farmers market, local producers showcase their fresh cherries and other cherry products for you to taste and take home. You’ll notice the vibrant shades of red and purple which stimulate your senses as you browse the offerings.

Cooking Demonstrations: Learning from Chefs

Feeling inspired to create your own cherry-based culinary masterpieces? You’re in luck! The Traverse City Cherry Festival offers cooking demonstrations led by expert chefs, who will guide you through the process of creating delicious cherry dishes.

Here’s a glimpse of what you can learn from the cooking demonstrations:

  1. Sauces and Marinades: Adding cherries to your sauces and marinades can give a new dimension to your meals.
  2. Desserts: Perfect the art of making irresistible cherry desserts, such as pies and galettes
  3. Salads and Side Dishes: Discover how cherries can add a burst of flavor to your salads and other side dishes.

Cherry Competitions and Events

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The Cherry Pit Spitting Contest: A Festival Favorite

Have you ever tried cherry pit spitting? The Cherry Pit Spitting Contest at the Traverse City Cherry Festival is a fun and popular event! Contestants of all ages gather to see who can spit a cherry pit the farthest. The current world record for cherry pit spitting is an impressive 93 feet and 6.5 inches, set by Brian “Young Gun” Krause in 2004. Do you think you can break that record? Come and give it a shot!

Baking Contests: Celebrating Cherry-Flavored Creations

Cherries are not just for eating right out of the bowl – they make amazing ingredients in baking recipes too. Traverse City Cherry Festival features various baking contests where talented bakers showcase their cherry-flavored creations.

Some notable events include:

  • Cherry Pie Bake-Off: Amateur and professional bakers compete to create the most delicious cherry pie.
  • Cherry-Infused Desserts: Show off your culinary talents by incorporating cherries in unique and unexpected ways.


Not just about cherries and baking, the festival also hosts several races, including a 5K run and bike race, both celebrating the beautiful cherry orchards.

World’s Largest Cherry Pie

No cherry festival would be complete without acknowledging the world’s largest cherry pie! At an astonishing 28,350 pounds, the record was set in 1987 by the town of Traverse City. Talk about an ultimate cherry on top of an already fantastic festival!

Family-Friendly Activities

Fun for All Ages: Kid-Friendly Attractions

Traverse City Cherry Festival offers a variety of family-friendly activities to entertain both kids and adults. Who can resist a cherry pie-eating contest or a cherry pit-spitting contest? Not only are these contests fun to participate in, but they also come with prizes for the winners.

If your little ones love furry friends, they won’t want to miss the kids pet show! This adorable event showcases a range of pets and is sure to leave everyone smiling.

Additionally, fun-filled events like the Cherry Parade and water dog show ensure that every member of your family remains engaged and entertained.

Educational Activities: Learning About Cherries

Did you know that the National Cherry Festival began in 1925 as the “Blessing of the Blossoms”? It aimed to celebrate the area’s abundant cherry crop. While you’re enjoying the festivities, don’t forget to take the opportunity to learn about cherries and their significance to the region.

Festival organizers emphasize the importance of educating visitors about cherry cultivation and the agricultural history of Traverse City. You’ll find booths and exhibits dedicated to providing information on cherry-related topics. So, while you’re indulging in delicious cherry pies and cherry beer, you can also learn about the history and processes that brought these treats to the table.

Live Entertainment

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Musical Performances: The Festival’s Soundtrack

At the Traverse City Cherry Festival, you’ll be treated to an amazing lineup of musical performances. With a wide variety of genres and styles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. In previous years, big names like musician Sheryl Crow and comedian Jim Gaffigan have graced the stage, showcasing the festival’s dedication to providing quality entertainment. So, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming concert announcements and get ready to dance the night away!

Street Performers and Parades: The Heartbeat of the Festival

In addition to the musical performances, Traverse City Cherry Festival is also known for its vibrant street performers and lively parades. As you make your way through the event, you’ll encounter talented artists and entertainers showcasing their skills for all to enjoy. There’s no shortage of surprises, from jugglers and acrobats to living statues!

Don’t miss out on the festival’s signature parades either. The event schedule typically includes:

  • Cherry Royale Parade: A grand display of floats, marching bands, and, of course, cherries!
  • Junior Royale Parade: Featuring adorable performances by local children and youth groups
  • Festival Air Show: An airborne spectacle that will have you looking up in awe, featuring expert pilots performing incredible maneuvers

Arts and Crafts

Local Artisans: Exploring the Craft Stalls

Traverse City Cherry Festival’s Arts and Crafts Fair showcases a fantastic opportunity to check out more than 100 local artists from across the Midwest, representing a wide range of craftsmanship and creativity. As you wander through the stalls, you’ll find unique, locally hand-crafted items, perfect as souvenirs or gifts. Don’t forget to stop and chat with the artisans; they love sharing stories about their creative process!

If you’re curious about what kind of art and craft you’ll find at the festival, you can expect:

  • Handmade pottery
  • Original paintings and prints
  • Beautifully crafted jewelry
  • Artisanal soaps and skincare products
  • Woodworking creations
  • Textiles and clothing

Hands-On Art Activities: Engaging with Local Creativity

The Traverse City Cherry Festival is not only about appreciating others’ skillful creations. It’s also an opportunity for you to roll up your sleeves and explore your artistic side. The hands-on art activities are perfect for all ages and skill levels, so don’t be shy to give it a try! Some examples of engaging art activities you may find are:

  • Pottery workshops
  • Painting and drawing sessions
  • Group crafts with local associations
  • Textile and accessory crafting

Community Impact

Boosting Local Business: The Economic Influence of the Festival

Did you know that the Traverse City Cherry Festival has a significant impact on the local economy? With an influx of half a million visitors each year, local businesses see a surge in customers, from hotels and restaurants to small shops and vendors. This yearly influx boosts revenue and helps to sustain businesses during the slower seasons. The festival, which will take place from June 29th to July 6th, 2024, is a win-win for both the community and tourists alike.

Charitable Initiatives: Giving Back Through the Festival

The National Cherry Festival is not only an economic powerhouse for the area, but it also gives back to the community through various charitable initiatives. Each year, the festival partners with local nonprofit organizations to support their missions and raise awareness on important causes.

Some examples of how the event benefits local nonprofits include:

  • Fundraising opportunities: Nonprofit organizations can operate booths during the festival, generating additional funds for their causes.
  • Awareness campaigns: The festival’s platform allows the community to learn about the initiatives that nonprofits are working on in the region.
  • Direct donations: A portion of the proceeds from specific festival events is donated to partner organizations, directly supporting their missions.

Cherry Orchards Tours

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Traverse City Cherry Festival provides a wonderful opportunity for you to dive deep into the world of cherry farming. Let’s explore the two fantastic ways of experiencing cherry orchards during the festival.

Guided Orchard Tours: Exploring Cherry Farms

Embark on guided orchard tours and learn the ins and outs of cherry farming. You’ll visit various cherry farms in the area, where cherry growers will reveal their techniques and practices for growing and harvesting these delicious fruits. What’s the ideal time to pick cherries? How do the growers ensure their trees stay healthy? Find out the answers to these questions and more!

To make the most of your experience, here’s a list of cherry farms you can visit during the festival:

  1. Cherry U-Pick: 555 Wilson Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686
  2. Rennie Orchards: 11221 Monroe Rd, Williamsburg, MI 49690
  3. Cherry Connection: 12414 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686

Meet the Growers: Insights from Local Farmers

Another exciting way to experience cherry orchards during the Traverse City Cherry Festival is to meet the growers themselves. Local cherry farmers gladly share their knowledge, expertise, and passion for growing cherries. They’ll show you around their orchards, offering valuable insights into the history, cultivation, and varieties of cherries.

Health and Fitness Events

Cherry Festival Races: From Fun Runs to Marathons

The Cherry Festival isn’t just about eating, it’s also about staying fit and healthy. That’s why you’ll find multiple races catering to all ages and fitness levels during the festival.

From fun runs to marathons, there’s a race for everyone. Some of the popular race categories include:

  • 5K
  • 10K
  • 15K
  • Half-marathon

Accommodation and Travel

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Where to Stay: Accommodation Options in Traverse City

When planning your visit to the Traverse City Cherry Festival, finding the perfect place to stay is crucial. Traverse City offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every taste and budget. From luxurious hotels to budget-friendly lake rentals, you’ll find various options close to the festival grounds.

Don’t forget to book your accommodations well in advance, as the hotels nearest to the festival tend to fill up quickly for this popular event.

Getting Around: Transportation Tips for Festival Goers

Getting around Traverse City during the Cherry Festival is a breeze with various transportation options available to you. Here are some tips on how to navigate the city efficiently during the festivities:

  • Parking: Arrive early to secure a parking spot in the parking garages located on Front Street and Park. Event parking may cost around $15 for the day. Alternatively, you can park in the downtown Hardy parking.
  • Bayline Shuttle: Utilize the Bayline Shuttle service, which operates throughout the festival, making it easy to travel between downtown locations and the Open Space Park.
  • Walking and Biking: Traverse City is known for its walkable and bike-friendly streets. Feel free to stroll or cycle to the festival and enjoy the lovely summer weather.

Culinary Tours and Wine Tastings

Cherry Flavors: Local Culinary Tours

Traverse City National Cherry Festival is a wonderful opportunity for you to indulge in mouthwatering cherry-flavored dishes. Celebrate the rich and diverse culinary scene during the festival with the Cherry Flavors: Local Culinary Tours. These tours take you on an exciting journey through local eateries, giving you an opportunity to taste a variety of cherry-inspired scrumptious cuisines.

Several local restaurants, cafes, and food trucks participate in these tours, offering different types of cherry-based dishes, including both savory and sweet selections. Curious about what you can expect?

  • Sweet treats: Cherry pies, cherry-topped cheesecakes, cherry scones, and more.
  • Savory dishes: Cherry-glazed pork ribs, cherry salsa, cherry-infused BBQ sauce, and more.

Wine Tasting Events: Exploring Local Vineyards

In addition to the culinary tours, you can also enjoy a variety of wine-tasting experiences in Traverse City during the Cherry Festival. The region is known for its beautiful vineyards, exquisite wine, and amazing events that let you explore the wine country.

Some popular wine events happening in and around Traverse City include:

  • Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trails: Enjoy curated tours through the picturesque Old Mission Peninsula, savoring award-winning wines from various local vineyards.
  • Traverse City Uncorked: A month-long event showcasing local wines, with wine tastings, special offers, and winery events across the region.
  • Winter Activities on the Traverse Wine Coast: Experience a one-of-a-kind 5.5-mile winter snowshoe tour connecting several local wineries and enjoy a warm, catered lunch along the way.

Networking and Business Opportunities

Business and Networking Events

During the Traverse City Cherry Festival, you can find various networking opportunities and events focused on promoting businesses in the area. The festival brings together the community and professionals from across the state, country, and even the world, making it an ideal platform for networking.

Make sure to check out the festival schedule for updates on any networking events, galas or openings. These events are perfect spots to strike up conversations and make lasting connections with potential collaborators, partners, or clients for your business. The corporate membership program is also a great way to align your business with the festival, showcasing your company’s support for the community and the event’s positive impact on Northern Michigan.

Showcasing Local Products: Opportunities for Vendors

The National Cherry Festival is a fantastic opportunity for vendors to showcase their products and services to a vast audience. Local artisans, farmers, and businesses can apply to be food vendors, farm market vendors, or on-site marketers.

As a vendor, you’ll have ample opportunities to promote your brand, make new connections, and generate sales. What’s more, the festival features an arts and crafts show designed for artisans and makers to showcase their creativity and craftsmanship.

Beyond the Festival

Exploring Traverse City: Attractions Beyond the Festival

While you’re in Traverse City for the National Cherry Festival, take some time to explore the other attractions this charming city offers. The Open Space, a popular public park that hosts the festival, is an excellent spot for picnics and strolls with beautiful views of the Grand Traverse Bay. A few other points of interest to consider include:

  • Wineries and Breweries: Traverse City is known for its exceptional wine and craft beer scene. You can sample local delights at various tasting rooms throughout the city.
  • Beaches: Soak up the sun at one of the numerous beaches found along the bay. Relax by the water or venture out for a refreshing swim.
  • Trails and Nature: Traverse City is a haven for nature lovers. Experience the tranquility of the outdoors on hiking and biking trails. The Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trail is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Shopping and Dining: Treat yourself to a memorable shopping and dining experience by exploring the diverse stores and eateries in Traverse City’s bustling downtown district.

A City of Culture: Discovering Traverse City’s Charm

Traverse City’s rich culture and history are awe-inspiring. Beyond the Cherry Festival, you can discover the city’s charm through various experiences:

  • Art Galleries: Traverse City’s art scene is thriving, with numerous galleries showcasing the work of both local and national artists.
  • Historic Sites: Immerse yourself in the region’s history by visiting preserved landmarks such as the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and Mission Point Lighthouse.
  • Performing Arts: Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a performance at one of the city’s theaters, like the Old Town Playhouse or City Opera House.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the dates for the 2024 Cherry Festival?

Mark your calendars! The 2024 National Cherry Festival is set to take place in beautiful Traverse City, MI from June 29 to July 6.

What events are scheduled during the festival?

The National Cherry Festival boasts over 150 events and activities, ensuring there’s something for everyone. Get ready for a full week of family fun, including pit-spitting, pie-eating contests, turtle races, and much more. 85% of these events are free for all, so be sure to carve out some time to enjoy the festivities!

Which performers can we expect at the air show?

The air show is a prominent attraction, but as of now, the lineup for performers has not been announced. Keep checking their official website and social media channels to stay updated on the lineup as it is revealed.

What are the entrance fees for the festival?

Great news! Most of the events at the National Cherry Festival are free. While some might require tickets or have additional fees, the majority of activities are available for everyone to enjoy without breaking the bank.

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