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National Cherry Festival in Traverse City

July, 2024

The Traverse City area bursts at the seams each summer when the National Cherry Festival occurs. The festival includes eight days of air shows, concerts, parades, food tastings, arts/crafts show, and fireworks.

The Grand Traverse region is well-known for its world-record tart cherry harvest and those visiting the festival can find cherries made into all kinds of food products.

Here's the list of events that are typically part of the festival:

  • Classic Car Cruise beginning at Turtle Creek Casino- 7741 M-72, Williamsburg. Staging will begin at 5 pm and the cruise will leave at 6 pm.
  • US Coast Guard Open Ramp at USCG Air Station Traverse City- 1175 Airport Access Rd., Traverse City. Free event to view displays and meet aerial demonstration teams.
  • Norte Kids Balance Bike Race at Norte Clubhouse- 1213 W. Civic Center Dr. Riders ages 2–5 are invited to Norte’s balance bike course at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center. Norte has helmets and bikes for racers, and families are encouraged to bring their own. Registration is from 8-9am with the race from 9-11am.
  • Zumba by the Bay at Open Space Park next to Clinch Park Marina- 111 E. Grandview Pkwy. Led by certified instructors from the Northwest Michigan Area. 
  • Very Cherry Flying Pancake Breakfast at Open Space Park. Cost is $7-$14 which benefits the festival foundation.
  • Kids Movie Matinee at the State Theatre- 235 E. Front St.
  • Opening Ceremonies at Open Space Park with remarks by the National Cherry Queen, the National Cherry Festival President, and other prominent figures of the Grand Traverse Region.
  • Old Town Classic Car Show at the Grand Traverse Commons- 1200 W. 11th St.. See hundreds of show-condition collector vehicles. 
  • Blues, Brews, & BBQ at Haggerty Center- 715 E. Front St. Enjoy beer, BBQ, and the Blue Angels. Ticket includes two adult beverages and food. BBQ is served from 1-3 pm and parking is very limited. 
  • FREE Yoga by the Bay at Open Space Park. Check in at 8am.  
  • Arts & Crafts Fair at the Grand Traverse Commons with over 100 vendors. For an application, call (231) 922-2050 or visit
  • Great American Picnic at the Hagerty Center. Enjoy the Blue Angels Show,  cherry inspired picnic food, and outdoor games. Food is served from 1-3pm.
  • FREE Kids Cherry Teddy Bear Tea at F&M Park (Railroad & Washington Streets). Kids are invited to bring their favorite bear and blanket for a fun filled afternoon in the park. Enjoy story telling, making a teddy bear craft, and an afternoon tea party with other teddy bears and kids. Parents are welcome.
  • Family Sand Sculpture Contest at Sunset Park Beach- 417 Munson Ave. Sand sculpture competition for families, groups, and individuals ages 13 and up. Only items found on the beach may be used in the decoration of the sculpture with the exception of food coloring. No fee required.
  • Live musical  performances
  • FREE Kids Pet Show at F&M Park. Entries are open to “Live” pets, and kids 3-12 yrs of age. Animals must be under control by the participant. Winners will be awarded in the following categories: Most Unusual Pet, Best Dressed Ensemble, Dressed for the Decades: 1930s, Most Creative Cherry-Theme, Most Patriotic Pet, and Most Royal Pet.
  • Princess Tea at Great Wolf Lodge- 3575 US-31. Kids can enjoy tea with the National Cherry Queen and her royal court. 
  • Fireworks over Open Space Park.
  • Fun & Games for Special Kids at Open Space Park. Children of all ages with hearing, visual, physical, and developmental impairments are invited to participate. Activities may include pie making, obstacle courses, face painting, and a trip to the Midway hosted by the Arnold Family.
  • Garden Party at Historic Barns Park- 1500 Red. Dr. 
  • Cherry Industry Program & Awards at the Michigan State University Horticultural Research Station- 3291 College Rd., Holt. 
  • Cherry Pie Bike Ride at F&M Park. Explore Traverse City during this short, meandering ride that begins and ends at F&M Park. Every rider receives a voucher for a free slice of pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company.
  • Cherry Pie Make & Bake at Open Space Park. Kids ages 2-12 years old will learn to make a mini Cherry Crumb Pie (National Cherry Festival’s Signature Pie) from the bakers at Grand Traverse Pie Company. Kids make the pie and it can be baked on site or taken home to be baked. First come, first served basis with on-site registration opening at 9am. While there is no cost for this event, a $3 donation to benefit the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center is suggested.
  • Curling with the National Cherry Festival at TC Curling Club- 1712 S. Garfield Ave. 24 spots per hour open for this competition. Each registration will give the entrant 2 stones to throw for $10. Additional throws can be purchased if space is available. Must be 6 years of age or older to play. Register here
  • Cherry Mile Fun Run at Traverse City Central Track. Bib pick up at 3:45pm.
  • Cherry Kids 1-Mile Fun Run at the Grand Traverse Civic Center. Each child participant receives a medal and a giveaway. This run is open to all ages with a fee of $10.
  • Consumers Energy Community Royale Parade in Downtown Traverse City- Front St. to Union St. to 7th St.
  • Cherry Golf Scramble at Grand Traverse Resort. Two-person, 18-hole scramble on Spruce Run, the original Resort course. Shotgun start at 8:30am  Special Cherry Festival rate available. Proper golf attire is required.
  • FREE Kids Sand Sculpture Contest at Sunset Park Beach. Age divisions are: ages 3-5 (9-9:45am), Ages 6-8 (9:15-10am), Ages 9-12 (10:15-11:15am), and Groups with ages 3-12 (10:30am-12pm). Pre-registration is required and opens on June 1st. Capacity maybe limited. Only items found on the beach may be used in the decoration of the sculpture with the exception of food coloring.
  • Diaper Derby & Toddler Trot at F&M Park. Fun filled competitions of baby crawling and toddler trotting. Registration gets under way at 9am and the first race will start at 10am. Open to children 3 and under.
  • DTE Energy Day at Open Space Park. Learn ways to save energy and money. Play games and win prizes. All ages welcome.
  • Cherry Pins & Pizza at Lucky Jack’s Bowling Center- 1705 S. Garfield Ave. $3/Game, $2/Shoe Rental, $2/Slice of Pizza.
  • FREE Chalk Art for kids ages 5-12 at Open Space Park. Chalk is provided. 
  • Cherries Got Talent Finals at the Beer Tent. Watch finalists perform. 
  • Queen’s Coronation at the Hagerty Center. Doors open at 5:30pm with a cocktail reception, cash bar, and live and silent auctions benefiting the Queen’s Scholarship Program. The National Cherry Queen will arrive at 6pm with entertainment. The Queen’s Court will arrive at 6:30pm and the program will begin at 7pm. Crowning of the National Cherry Queen will be announced at 7:45pm.
  • Meijer Festival of Races at Traverse City High School- 3962 3 Mile Rd.
  • DTE Energy Foundation Cherry Royale Parade from Front Street to Union Street to 13th Street.
  • Semi Finals for Go for the Gold! Pin Program at Open Space Park. Ten semi-finalists will be drawn.
  • Go for the Gold! Pin Program Final Drawing at Lays Cherry Blast Stage. One lucky “Go For The Gold” Pin qualifier will win the Festival’s Grand Prize. Pin finalists need not be present to win.
  • Festival Finale Fireworks over Open Space Park.

Here's a list of attractions that are typically held every day of the festival:

  • Sarah Hardy’s Farmer’s Market at the Old Town Parking Deck- 125 E. 8th St.
  • Kids Club at Clinch Park- 111 E. Grandview Pkwy. Free activities for kids ages 2-12.
  • Go for the Gold! Pin Program at Open Space Park – Commemorative pins will be sold for $5, with the possibility of winning a grand prize. Pins are also needed for entry into the beer tent. Gold pin entry forms may be turned in at the pin tent. Winners do not need to be present to win and will be chosen on July 9th.
  • Cherry Farm Market at Open Space Park. Shop cherry products from local businesses.
  • Official Cherry Festival Souvenir Tent at Open Space Park.
  • Arnolds Amusements Midway at the corner of Grandview Parkway and Union Street.
  • Beer Tent at Open Space Park. Libations include beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. Festival goers must be 21 to enter the tent and have a commemorative pin.

Here's a list of attractions that typically span over multiple days:

  • Cherries at the Botanic Garden. Enjoy special events at Historic Barns Park.
  • Classic Movie Matinee at the State Theatre
  • Bingo!
  • Adult Cherry Pie Pit Spit Contest at Open Space Park. 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place prizes, women’s & men’s. Register on-site, just prior to 6pm contest. No fee required.
  • Bayside Beach Volleyball Tournaments at the Beach Volleyball Courts on Grandview Parkway- 314 US-316 events. Events include 2-person mens, 2-person womens, 2-person co-ed, 4-person open, 4-person rec, and 2-person youth.
  • USAF Thunderbirds Souvenir Tent at Open Space Park.
  • Picnic at the Park at Park Place- 300 E. State St. Watch the airshow from the 10th floor of the Tower while you enjoy an array of appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts served along side two adult beverages in a fully enclosed, air-conditioned venue.
  • Flight Deck at Open Space Park. Reserved seat with great views of the air show. Includes a picnic lunch.
  • Air Show over Open Space Park.
  • Indigo View Air Show at Hotel Indigo- 263 W. Grandview Parkway. View the air show from Hotel Indigo’s swank rooftop. Menu to be announced. Two beverage tickets are included with the meal.
  • The Flight Path at Delamar- 615 E. Front St. Dine on edge of Grand Traverse Bay while enjoying the airshow. 
  • Kids Cherry Pie Eating Contest at F&M Park. Age groups from pre-school to 12 years old. Youngest contestants compete first. Arrive 15 minutes early to register.
  • Bubble Gum Blow at Kids Club. Three age divisions: 5-7, 8-10 and 11-13. Registration will open at 12:30pm and close at 1:15pm each day. Parents must be present to sign a waiver for children to participate.
  • Adult Pie Eating Contest at Lay’s Cherry Blast Stage in Open Space Park. Prizes awarded. Free registration will open 30 minutes prior to event at stage, no fee required.
  • Orchard Tour & More at the Michigan State University Horticultural Research Station, a 137-acre research farm in the heart of “Cherry Country.” There will be educational exhibits, samples of cherry products, and tours of the farm. Cherry fun for the kids includes a 4-H petting zoo and a 4H kids activity (No petting zoo on July 4th). Shuttles available.
  • Cornhole Tournaments at the Beer Tent. 
  • Hole-in-One Tournament at X-Golf- 3480 W. South Airport Rd. #B. $5 for 3 shots with a daily prize for the closest to the pin Tuesday-Friday. Qualifiers will return Saturday at 9am for a chance to win $50,000.
  • Ultimate Air Dogs at Open Space Park. Nearly one hundred “dog athletes” and their proud owner/trainers compete for advancement in the regional competition. Free to view but pre-registration is required to participate. 
  • Meijer Festival of Races Packet Pick-Up at Traverse City High School- 3962 3 Mile Rd. 3-7pm on Friday and 5:30-6:30am on Saturday.
  • Pickleball Tournament at Slabtown Corner- 826 W. Front St. Registration fee is $50.00 and includes one event. Second event fee is $10.00. Women’s and Men’s Doubles will be skill level 3.5 and below and 4.0 and above Mixed Doubles will be skill level 3.0 and below, 3.5, and 4.0 and above. Skill levels will be split by age after registration closes. Final brackets are limited to 7 teams. Friday is Women’s & Men’s Doubles and Saturday is Mixed Doubles.

Experience Traverse City

Traverse City is perhaps the most beautiful region of Michigan, where thousands from around the country come to vacation. Read the stories below or go to the Grand Traverse County destination page.

For More Information on the Annual National Cherry Festival, please contact:

National Cherry Festival Committee

521 S. Union St., Traverse City, MI  49684

(231) 947-4230

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