Michigan Bucket List: National Cherry Festival in Traverse City

Jenna Natwick
Jenna Natwick

| 3 min read

Traverse City Cherry Festival
For nearly a century, Traverse City has been the host of a national celebration. The National Cherry Festival begins on July 1, 2023, and will run until July 8, 2023. Whether or not you were able to visit the Traverse City cherry blossoms in May, this festival is a great opportunity to celebrate one of Michigan’s largest agricultural industries. The festival is a must-see event for any proud Michigander or cherry enthusiast and is well worth a trip to beautiful Traverse City, the “Cherry Capital of the World.”

National Cherry Festival traditions

There are multiple lasting traditions that appear each year at the festival. Each of these traditions seek to build community and celebrate the cherry industry:
  • Cherry Queen: The crowning of the National Cherry Queen has been a cherished tradition since 1925. The Cherry Queen serves as an ambassador for the National Cherry Festival and the cherry industry. The Cherry Queen program also provides a scholarship to the lucky winner.
  • Junior Royalty: Like the Cherry Queen Program, the Junior Royalty Program seeks to crown cherry ambassadors. The Junior Royalty Program crowns a prince and princess in over 25 school districts in the area. The Princes and Princesses participate in multiple festival activities, including the Community and Cherry Royale Parades, where they will have the opportunity to represent their school on a float.
  • Annual Cherry Art Competition: The Cherry Art Competition encourages student artists to use their skills to celebrate cherries. The competition offers prizes and scholarships at a total of over $6,000.
  • Pin Program: The Go for the Gold Pin Program is a great way to support the National Cherry Festival while also taking home a collectable souvenir and, if you’re lucky, a grand prize. The commemorative pins are sold for $5. If you get a gold pin, you will be entered into a drawing to win an exciting prize. This year’s prizes include a two-year lease on a Toyota Camry, two United Airline’s vouchers, and $600 Best Buy shopping spree.
  • National Cherry Festival Marching Band: Formed in 1984, the National Cherry Festival Marching Band is full of dedicated musicians from across the Grand Traverse Region. The band performs at multiple festival events, including the Community and Cherry Royale Parades.
Alongside these annual traditions, the festival will include a multitude of other activities and events. Regardless of your interests, there are sure to be events that you or your family will enjoy. You can view a full schedule here. We’ve highlighted some of the exciting events below:

National Cherry Festival activities

  • Zumba by the Bay, July 1
  • Balance Bike Race, July 1
  • Bayside Beach Volleyball Tournament, July 1, 2 and 3
  • Yoga by the Bay, July 2
  • Arts and Crafts Fair, July 2
  • Cherry Mile, July 6
  • Cherry Pie Bike Ride, July 6
  • Meijer Festival of Races, July 8

National Cherry Festival family-friendly activities

  • Kids Cherry Teddy Bear Tea, July 2
  • Family Sand Sculpture Contest, July 2
  • Kids Pet Show, July 3
  • Kids Cherry Pie Eating Contest, July 3, 4, 6 and 7
  • Fun and Games for Special Cherry Kids, July 5
  • Kids Cherry Town Fun Night, July 5
  • Cherry Kids Fun Run, July 6
  • Diaper Derby and Toddler Trot, July 7
  • Garden Party, July 5

National Cherry Festival entertainment events

  • Air Show, July 1 and 2
  • Flo Rida, July 2
  • Night Ranger, July 3
  • Fourth of July Fireworks, July 4
  • 3 Doors Down, July 5
  • Jordan Davis, July 6
  • Consumers Energy Community Royale Parade, July 6
  • Chicago, July 7
  • Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, July 8
  • Festival Finale Fireworks, July 8
  • DTE Energy Foundation Cherry Royale Parade, July 8
Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate Michigan and the magnificent cherries it produces this summer! Learn more about the festival here.

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