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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The National Cherry Festival

If you can find just two days to get away this summer, make sure these days are between July 7 and July 14 and drive up to Traverse City, Michigan on the shore of Lake Michigan for the National Cherry Festival, which is a week-long celebration of everything cherry.

Underneath a huge tent at the main entrance to the festival is all the cherry booty: fresh cherries, cherry turnovers, cherry jam, cherry jelly, cheesecake with cherries, chocolate covered cherries. Everything you’d expect. But besides these traditional cherry standbys are cherry-pepper jelly, spicy cherry mustard, hot cherry salsa and big gumballs that look, smell and taste like cherries.

The one cherry concoction I expected to see but didn’t—cherry wine. In fact, the whole cherry festival, one of the nation’s top 10, is alcohol free, which makes for a nice family atmosphere.

The festival has more to offer than just cherries. Different days offer different activities. At the beach two-person volleyball tournaments start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. the festival’s first day. The four-person tournament plays out the following day. The Blue Angels and friends, including F-16s, the Stealth Bomber and several Red Baron-type planes perform. A new speed record may be set at the Big Wheel races—just for kids four and under.

Several years ago a record was set in the cherry sundae category. Boy scouts assembled 510 feet of vanilla ice cream with cherry sauce and whipped cream. An official from Guinness World Records was there to record the event, and as soon as the sundae was finished, the scouts divvied it up, and on-lookers ate their shares.

Though a record-shattering event like the one described previously can’t be expected every day, some fun events occur throughout every day of the festival. One of these is the fishing. It’s not a contest, is not for lake fishing and is limited to those under 12. An area fishery supplies hundreds of live fish, and for a price, young ones can land a catch. Don’t miss the expressions of success and surprise on the faces of the really young. Older kids seem less excited with their catch. Fish are donated to an area zoo for feeding fish-eating animals like seals and polar bears.

Performers are there daily too. Mark and I enjoyed watching Just Joe juggle his swords and breathe fire. I did not like so much when he swallowed a five-foot-long circus balloon and then popped it—while still in his throat. I hope Joe didn’t have any trouble passing that.

One guy was made up like a mime, but he did more of a Tai Chi flowing movement than any mime-type work. I wasn’t sure what the point was, but he performed in front of the “Got Milk?” booth, so I had a sample—not of plain old milk—but of root beer milk, which tasted just like the final drippings of a root beer sundae.

If you don’t care for milk, don’t worry, food booths abound with the standard festival fare of meat sandwiches, soda and bottled water.

Go for the fun, not for the food.

Word count: 524


Blogger Sophia said...

Yes, the Cherry festival is a real big thing now.My son works for t.v. 7&4 in Traverse City,so he does a whole lot of stories .They
put a lodge up there called Great Wolf with a water park inside,you can look on-line but it is costly.
I live about hour and a half from their outside a little town of Johannesburg.A store,bar,post office, school and the old depot to eat.Famous for Karen's pies and the food is wonderful.My sister and I went across the Mighty Mac Bridge last weekend connecting the u.p. from the lower and it was just beautiful to see.I just love that Bridge!

5:36 AM  

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