2017 National Cherry Festival: What You Need to Know

The Cherry Capital of the World is in our backyard and right now is the perfect opportunity to see all that Traverse City has to offer. The National Cherry Festival, happening July 1-8, is jam-packed with a variety of events and activities including cherries, fireworks, concerts and more.

Here’s a preview of what you need to know this year:

Event and Activities

There are over 150 events and activities for all ages. While some of the events do have a cost associated with them, the majority are free. You can find all of the events and details on the event calendar. Events include:

  • Air Show: The USAF Thunderbirds will be performing over West Grand Traverse Bay, July 1 and 2 from 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Music Stage: Numerous artists and acts will be taking the stage at Pepsi Bay Side Music Stage presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Tickets need to be purchased in-advance for these shows including: REO Speedwagon, Cole Swindell, truTV Impractical Jokers and more.
  • Cherry Pie Eating Contest: There will be children and adult pie eating contests, with prizes for the winners. Free registration opens 30 minutes prior to the event at the stage. The contests happen on multiple days and times. Make sure to check the event calendar to pick a day and time that works best for you.
  • Cherry Pit Spit Contest: This event is free for any adult who wants to try and beat the Guinness Book of Records distance of 95 feet and 6.5 inches. Registration is on-site, prior to the start of the event, which occurs on multiple days of the festival.
  • Fourth of July Fireworks: Wrap up your holiday celebrations by watching the fireworks displays at dusk or 10:30 p.m. Fireworks can be viewed along the south end of West Grand Traverse Bay, near the Festival Open Space Park, Clinch Park Marina, Bryant and West End Beaches.
  • Cherry Pie Make and Bake: Children can learn how to make their first cherry pie from the pastry chefs of Grand Traverse Pie Company on July 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will take place in the Festival Open Space.
  • Ultimate Air Dogs Competition: Nearly a hundred “dog athletes” and their owner-trainers will be competing for advancement in the regional competition on July 6-8. All of the times, including the finals are on the calendar. The competitions will take place at the Traverse City West End Beach Volleyball courts.
  • Free Outdoor Movie Screenings: Movie classics such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Horton Hears a Who will be playing at F&M Park at Railroad and Washington Street. All of the movie showing details are listed on the calendar.
  • Fireworks Finale: Celebrate the end of the festival by watching the fireworks finale over the West Grand Traverse Bay starting at 10:30 p.m. on July 8.

Frequently Asked Questions

Individuals and families who have never been to the Traverse City area or the National Cherry Festival may have lots of questions. Below are some of the most frequently asked:

  • Where can I park? There are several parking garages, as well as street parking throughout downtown. For more specific information, visit this website. Biking to the festival is also encouraged. Read all about the free bike valet program in our blog post here.
  • How much does it cost? Out of the 150 events, 85 percent of them are free. Make sure to double check the event calendar to see if an event has a cost associated with it.
  • Where can I pick cherries? The Grand Traverse Area is home to many pick-your-own farms and orchards. For a full list, click here.
  • How do I get there and where do I stay? Visit this page for more information on all things involving travel and accommodations.

Photo Credit: SunGodServant

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