Finishing off National Cherry Month with a bang, we’re bringing you the best ways to enjoy a week-long celebration of our favorite fruit. If you live anywhere near Traverse City, Michigan you are very familiar with the seven-day cherry extravaganza that takes place in July each year: National Cherry Festival. The National Cherry Festival is unique due to the fact that its main purpose is to celebrate the local cherry growing region of Traverse City, yet the event attracts festival goers from all around the world. Why is this so?

 Since its recognition as a national celebration in 1931, the National Cherry Festival has continued to provide cherry-centric entertainment for all ages. From Air Shows, to concerts on the Bay Side Music Stage, to cherry pit spitting contests, to appearances by the festival’s official mascot, Graceland Fruit’s Super Cherry, not to mention numerous foodie events and the crowning of the annual National Cherry Queen, you won’t find a dull moment in the entirety of the week-long event. So how can you make the most of your time at the National Cherry Festival this year? We’ve got you covered.

 We’ve compiled ideas from veteran festival goers here at Graceland Fruit along with tips from Michelle Elliot, National Cherry Festival’s Business Development Manager, to give you ten key reminders and things to do for a memorable, cherry-filled trip.  

  1. Book your hotel EARLY! Local hotels fill up quickly with 500,000 festival goers flooding the city! Use the Traverse City Visitors Center to help find the right hotel for you and your family.
  2. Utilize public transportation. Parking is a major hassle (unless you have a clearance pass). Utilize the FREE BATA Shuttle Service (running 10AM-midnight) with buses making loops every 30 minutes between downtown and “Park and Ride” locations. Find additional information on BATA’s website.
  3. Plan daily activities ahead of time. The National Cherry Festival website provides you with a detailed schedule of events that will allow you to pre-select and prepare for the events that most intrigue you.
  4. Upon entering, grab some fresh cherries, dried cherries, and any other type of cherry and walk around the main Festival grounds. Explore the different vendors sporting delicious local finds.
  5. Participate in pit spitting and pie eating.
  6. Watch one (or both) of the parades! Both the Touchstone Energy Junior Royale Parade and the DTE Energy Foundation Cherry Royale Parade are great options to see some awesome floats and grab free giveaways.
  7. Check out the awesome (and usually free) Kids Events (make sure you find Graceland Fruit’s Super Cherry!).
  8. Check out a concert (or two) on the Bayside Music Stage.
  9. Partake in any new events offered! This year, check out the Red, White and Indigo Blue strolling wine tour as well as the fan favorite Air Show.
  10. Stay healthy and participate in the Meijer Festival of Races 5k, 10k, 15k or Half Marathon (and run through a few of our beautiful cherry orchards!).

We hope to see you this summer in Traverse City, July 1st -8th, to celebrate everything that makes cherry country so great!