Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.com

National Cherry Festival in Traverse City

June 30th- July 8th, 2023

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.

The application deadline for the Cherry Festival Queen Program is May 15th, 2023 and selection weekend is May 26th-27th, 2023. Apply by visiting cherryfestival.org/bequeen.

Here’s the Typical Event Schedule:

Friday, June 30th, 2023

  • TBA – 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.

Saturday, July 1st, 2023

  • 8-10am – Zumba by the Bay at Open Space Park. Led by certified instructors from the Northwest Michigan Area. 
  • 8-11am – Very Cherry Flying Pancake Breakfast at Open Space Park. Cost is $7-$14 which benefits the festival foundation.
  • 9am – Two-Person Beach Volleyball Tournament at the Beach Volleyball Courts on Grandview Parkway. This tournament includes Men’s and Women’s play, with 18 teams per division. Team sign in is from 8:15-8:30am with play beginning at 9am.
  • 10-11am – 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.
  • 11am – Old Town Classic Car Show at the Grand Traverse Commons. See hundreds of show-condition collector vehicles. 
  • TBA – Blues, Brews, & BBQ at Haggerty Center. 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. 
  • TBA – Norte Kids Balance Bike Race at Norte Clubhouse. 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 8-8:45am with the race beginning at 9am.

Sunday, July 2nd, 2023

  • 8:30-9:30am – FREE Yoga by the Bay at Open Space Park. Check in at 8am.  
  • 9am – Four-Person Beach Volleyball Tournament at the Beach Volleyball Courts on Grandview Parkway. This tournament includes Co-Ed Open (18 teams), Co-Ed Recreational, (12 teams) and Open (6 teams) play. Team sign is from 8:15-8:30am and play begins at 9am. 
  • 10am-5pm – Arts & Crafts Fair at the Grand Traverse Commons with over 100 vendors. For an application, call (231) 922-2050 or visit downtowntc.com.
  • 3:30-5pm – 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.
  • 6pm – Family Sand Sculpture Contest at Sunset Park Beach. 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.
  • TBA – 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.

Monday, July 3rd, 2023

  • 9am-12pm – 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.

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

  • 10:30pm – Fireworks over Open Space Park.
  • TBA – Cherry Pie Bike Ride at F&M Park (Railroad & Washington Streets). 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.
  • TBA – FREE Princess Tea at Great Wolf Lodge. Kids can enjoy tea with the National Cherry Queen and her royal court. 
  • TBA – Cherry Industry Program & Awards at the Michigan State University Horticultural Research Station. 

Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

  • 9am – 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.
  • TBA – FREE Kids Cherry Town Fun Night at F&M Park. An evening of entertainment for all ages. Many performers, hands-on activities, food, and all-around enjoyment. 

Thursday, July 6th, 2023

  • 10am – 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.
  • 5:30pm – Cherry Mile Fun Run at Traverse City Central Track. Bib pick up at 3:45pm.
  • 6:30pm – Consumers Energy Community Royale Parade in Downtown Traverse City- Front St. to Union St. to 7th St.
  • TBA – Teen Volleyball Tournament at the Beach Volleyball Courts on Grandview Parkway. Teams are limited to 6 members. There are 2 divisions: ages 12-15 and 16-19. Players under 18 will need a parent to sign a waiver.
  • TBA – Cherry Kids 1-Mile Fun Run at the Grand Traverse Civic Center. Each child participant receives a medal and t-shirt. This run is open to all ages with a fee of $10. 
  • TBA – Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians Pow Wow at the Bayside Music Stage. See traditional dance and drumming and enjoy Native American Cuisine.

Friday, July 7th, 2023

  • 8:30am – 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.
  • 9am – 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.
  • 10am – 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.
  • 10am-6pm – DTE Energy Day at Open Space Park. Learn ways to save energy and money. Play games and win prizes. All ages welcome.
  • 1-3pm – FREE Chalk Art for kids ages 5-12 at Open Space Park. Chalk is provided. 
  • 5:30pm – 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.
  • TBA – Cherries Got Talent Finals at the Beer Tent. Watch finalists perform. 

Saturday, July 8th, 2023

  • 10:30pm – Festival Finale Fireworks over Open Space Park.
  • TBA – Semi Finals for Go for the Gold! Pin Program at Open Space Park. Drawings for qualifiers will take place at 3pm, 4pm and 5pm at the Pin Tent, with the selection of the ten finalists taking place at 6pm. Gold pin entries must be turned in at the pin tent by 5pm. Semi-finalists must be 18 years old. and do not need to be present to win. Qualifiers will be notified by phone.
  • TBA – 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.

Here’s a list of attractions that generally span over multiple days:

Daily Events

  • 7:30am-12pm – Sarah Hardy’s Farmer’s Market at the Old Town Parking Deck.
  • 10am-6pm – Kids Club at Clinch Park. Free activities for kids ages 2-12.
  • 10am-10pm – 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.
  • 10am-10pm – Cherry Farm Market at Open Space Park. Shop cherry products from local businesses.
  • 10am-10pm – Official Cherry Festival Souvenir Tent at Open Space Park.
  • 11am-11pm – Arnolds Amusements Midway at the corner of Grandview Parkway and Union Street.
  • 12-10pm – 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.

Events on Various Days

  • Saturday, July 1st-Friday, July 7th from 6-7pm – 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.
  • Saturday, July 1st and Sunday, July 2nd from 11am-6pm  – USAF Thunderbirds Souvenir Tent at Open Space Park.
  • Saturday, July 1st and Sunday, July 2nd from 1-4pm – USAF Thunderbirds Air Show over Open Space Park.
  • Monday, July 3rd-Friday, July 7th from 1-3pm – 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.
  • Monday, July 3rd-Friday, July 7th from 5-6pm – 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.
  • Monday, July 3rd-Friday, July 7th – 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.
  • Tuesday, July 4th-Saturday, July 8th from 10am-5pm – Hole-in-One Tournament at X-Golf. $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.
  • Thursday, July 6th-Saturday, July 8th at 10am, 1pm, and 3pm – 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. 
  • Friday, July 7th-Saturday, July 8th –  Meijer Festival of Race 5K, 10K, 15K & Half Marathon at Traverse City Central High School. 3-7pm on Friday and Saturday from 5:30-7am.
  • TBA – Live Musical & Comedy Performances
  • TBA – Flight Deck at Open Space Park. Enjoy a picnic-style lunch and the best seat to view the National Cherry Festival Air Show. 
  • TBA – Indigo View Air Show at Hotel Indigo. View the air show from Hotel Indigo’s swank rooftop. Menu to be announced. Two beverage tickets are included with the meal. 

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

cherryfestival.org

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