From decades-long volunteers to can’t-miss festival events, here are all the details and stories you need to celebrate Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival and the 4th of July in style this summer in Northern Michigan.

Meet Denny & Jeri

This will be Denny and Jeri Braun’s 39th year volunteering at the National Cherry Festival. That just so happens to be about 9 years longer than I’ve been alive. If you think that’s long, they’ve been attending the festival for even longer with Jeri herself being a Cherry Festival Princess in 1957 and Denny being festival president in 2006. Within minutes of knowing this humble and kind couple, I learned they are the duo everyone wants to volunteer with, while also being an integral piece of local and festival history.

Jeri has baby photos of her at the festival and can’t remember a year she wasn’t able to make it, so it’s safe to say these lifelong residents haven’t missed a year. Denny confirms they’ve done every volunteer job possible and this year, you can join them at Blues, Brew & BBQ or stop by their home at 602 Washington St. to view their decorations for the Very Cherry Porch Parade. “From the beer tent and fireworks to the Blue Angels and air show, we’ve done it all. There was even a time where there were only 200 of us volunteers, and now we’re up to 2,400,” says Denny.

Photo by Noah Jurik

Photo by Noah Jurik

Photo by Noah Jurik

The reason they keep doing it? Memories and community. The Brauns raised their children coming to the festival and a few of their grandsons have now become festival princes. “To us, the best thing about the festival is connecting with the community and making memories for the kids for generations to come,” says Jeri.

Endlessly proud of the National Cherry Festival,  Denny and Jeri participate in a visiting festival committee, where they bring festival organizers from around the United States to exchange ideas, show off how we operate and to give a true behind-the-scenes view. Essentially, they’re a festival power couple and a true part of the growth our local festival has seen over the years.

As we prepared to say our goodbyes, we sat and enjoyed the Blue Angels, as they (of course) fly right over their picture-perfect Cherry Festival home. Jeri jokes, “If we ever sell this house, we’re writing lifetime porch access into the contract.” As we sit there, admiring the show in the sky and soaking up our conversation, I couldn’t agree with her decision more.

Photo by Noah Jurik

A Closer Look at the Braun’s Porch Parade Decor

For their porch this year, the Brauns went with a theme that honors our local cherry farmers and their growing process (and the small, buzzing insects that make it all possible!). From bees “buzzing” around to a cherry farmer climbing a ladder to grab some fresh cherries, it almost feels as if you’ve left the corner of Washington and Franklin and have been transported to a cherry field.

Focusing on farmers was always the idea behind the Brauns decor, “What our local cherry farmers truly do is really special. I’ve gotten to know quite a few of them and I can honestly say that they have become friends for life. They are the true inspiration behind what we do, ” says Jeri.

While the Very Cherry Porch Parade is one of the newer festival events, the Brauns have now participated all three years and are hoping to lock in their first win in 2022.

If you’re planning on attending the National Cherry Festival this year, the Brauns recommend following the incredible National Cherry Queen program and, of course, don’t forget to visit them for the porch parade.

Photo by Noah Jurik

Very Cherry Porch Parade Contest

This year’s Very Cherry Porch Parade contest runs from July 2 to 9 and features more than 30 homes in the free, family-friendly contest. While the home that wins will receive a $1,000 Downtown Gift Certificate, the true prize is watching the community excitedly explore these fully decorated cherry-themed homes across the region!

Learn more about the annual porch parade or view the map to find the nearest participating porch.

Photo by Noah Jurik

Photo by Noah Jurik

More Cherry Festival & 4th of July Events

After attending the Very Cherry Porch Parade, it only makes sense to continue your weekend with more holiday events. From 30+ firework shows to a 4th of July rock skipping competition, here are all the Northern Michigan events you won’t want to miss!

Northern Michigan Ultimate Fireworks Guide

Northern Michigan knows how to put on a show for the Fourth of July! Across seven different regions, there’s no shortage of fireworks displays, no matter where you are. Get all the insider tips on nearby shows and how to best enjoy them below.

4th of July Fireworks Guide: 30+ Fireworks Displays in Northern Michigan

Top 5 Cherry Festival Events You Can’t-Miss

July 2–3 | Air Show
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be taking on the Northern Michigan skies from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Head to Open Space Park in Traverse City for the best views.

July 5–6 | Cornhole Tournament
From noon to 6 p.m. in the Cherry Fest Beer Tent, join Cornhole America for this year’s tournament. We couldn’t even believe the turnout for last year’s event, so we know this one is going to be even bigger and better.

July 7–9 | Ultimate Air Dogs
Join 100 dog athletes and their owners at Open Space Park for one of the most fun-filled events of the weekend (if you’re a dog lover!) as you watch to see how much air they can really get.

View the full Ultimate Air Dogs schedule + event times here.

July 8 | Cherries Got Talent
Don’t miss this annual talent competition at the Cherry Blast Stage in Open Space Park. All acts and performances will be sure to keep you entertained starting at 2 p.m.

July 9 | Cherry Royale Parade
With the Very Cherry Porch Parade running July 2–9 and the Community Royale Parade on July 7, there are plenty of parades to join in on! But Northern Michigan’s favorite? The Cherry Royale Parade on July 9. Starting at 11:15 a.m. in downtown Traverse City.

Libby’s Picks for July 1-4, 2022

Each week, Libby Stallman, our office manager extraordinaire at MyNorth Media and Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, selects her favorite events ahead of the weekend. Here are the ones happening from July 1 to 4, 2022. If you’re reading this after these dates have passed, try searching “Libby’s Picks” on our website to see her current picks.

Photo(s) by Noah Jurik