History of the Traverse City National Cherry Festival

What began in 1910 as the “Blessing of the Blossom” has now, quite literally, blossomed into one of the biggest Northern Michigan festivals. The National Cherry Festival, located in Traverse City, takes place each year in early July. This festival features 8 nights of music on the Bayside music stage, Northern Michigan food and drink, and of course, cherries. The History of the Traverse City National Cherry Festival is filled with the history of the Northern Michigan economy and agriculture.

In 1925, after numerous orchards had been planted and cherries became more important to Traverse City’s economy, farmers and merchants partnered together to create the “Blessing of the Blossom Festival.” The first Cherry Festival featured a parade that included bands, military officials, and 52 floats. Gertrude Brown beat out 72 other contestants to win the first ever Cherry Queen title. In 1926, the Cherry Festival Queen selection was moved to popular vote where Charlotte Kearns won by an extraordinary 702 votes (out of the 5,000 total.)

The festival was officially renamed The Traverse City National Cherry Festival in 1931 by the Michigan Legislature. Originally held in May to celebrate the blossoms, the festival was then moved to June and finally to July to coincide with the 4th of July.

Now, the Cherry Festival is one of the biggest in the state of Michigan. Each year more than 500,000 people attend the festival. There are many of activities for children and adults to enjoy including periodic visits from the Blue Angels as well as 8 nights of music located on the Bayside Music stage.

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