Tag Archives: Cherry Festival

Cherry Festival

Main Piece:

Well in Traverse City during the summer is the Cherry Festival. Oh, my sister was the cherry princess! And I remember that cuz I was like in preschool and basically for that the parents the dads make a float. So all the cherry princesses they which is one from every school, and there are 25 schools or something. And so all the two princesses someone from a first graders have a girl and a guy Tirpitz is for prints, and the cherry princesses and princes from each school make a float, and our float was Herbie. There’s like a theme of the float, which was like Disney or something. And we did Herbie, do you remember that like the racecar? So I vividly remember like we took a car, we painted a car, like a dumpster car, and it was on a float. And then on the cherry festival parade all of the floats go through. And then they vote on like a Cherry Queen and the queen is like in high school or older. She like takes pictures with all the princesses. That’s a big deal and Cherry Festival, well there’s like a fair and there’s events that happen every every day and it’s like a very big thing a lot of fugdies, a lot of people would call fudgies people from like South Michigan who to Traverse City for the cherry festival. It’s a big deal. But none of the people who live in Traverse City actually like the festival because they make the grass dirty, without it the grass is like fluorescent green. 


My informant is one of my roommates, a 20-year-old dance major at USC. She’s from Michigan and this performance took place in our kitchen as she was cooking. 


My informant grew up with this festival and her sister was a cherry princess one year. She loves cherries and says it’s the only fruit that tastes better in Michigan than in California. 


I thought it was fascinating how much my informant talked up this festival and her families involvement, only to reveal at the very end that the people who live there don’t actually like the festival, that it’s much more for the people in Michigan who live outside of Traverse city than for the actual residents. So while this festival is a part of Michigan culture, it’s a yearly annoyance for the actual residents of the city.

Cherry Festival (Blenheim, ON)


AS grew up in Blenheim, Ontario, and attended this festival annually while growing up.

Main Piece:

AS: “So, the area I grew up in, full of orchards, all kinds of tree fruits. And one of them was the Cherry Festival, and it was known because, I swear to god, people compete spitting cherry pits. And the world champion cherry pit spitter came from our town. We were like ridiculously proud of someone who could expel a cherry pit, like, a really surprising distance.”


The Blenheim Cherry Festival (identified in online sources as Cherry Fest) is a great example of the practice of festivals celebrating a key local industry. Since, like the AS stated, the area is “full of orchards, all kinds of tree fruits,” cherries are a large part of the culture of the town. The festival occurs in mid-July, the peak of cherry season in Canada. This peak falls later because the Ontario weather is colder than in many other cherry-growing areas.

One of the central activities at this festival is a cherry pit spitting competition. Immediately, this makes sense because it directly involves cherries, but it also makes sense on further levels. Where the entire festival celebrates the growing of cherries, a full industry that is not especially approachable or accessible to enter for the lay person within Blenheim. If you do not already work in the Cherry industry or own an orchard, it is difficult to start commercially growing cherries. So much of this festival has a clear delineation between the industry insiders who participate in the trade, and the festival attendants who are not involved in the industry, but may still connect with the town’s cherry-centric identity (or just enjoy a good festival). But the cherry pit spitting competition, while it is still centered around cherries, evens the playing field. Anyone can be good at spitting cherry pits; there is no need for start-up capital or a commercial orchard. This competition invites the non-industry lay person into taking an active role within the festival, and therefore invites them into the community of Blenheim.

National Cherry Festival- Traverse City

I collected this piece of folklore from my brother, who went to school in Michigan. Traverse City has a Cherry Festival every summer, and this is his experience of it:

Skye: “Along the northern shores of Lake Michigan sits Traverse City.  The city is along Grand Traverse Bay and sits at the lower end of a fertile peninsula.  For decades, the area has been the self-designated Cherry Capitol of the world because of its good farmland.”

Me: How long has the festival been around?

Skye: I’m pretty sure it started at the turn of the century. The farmers would have an annual “blessing of the blossoms” in the spring–much like a blessing of the fleet in fishing communities. There is also a Cherry Blossom Queen, and a parade. The single day observance grew to be several days long.  And now, the contemporary festival is 8 days long.”

Me: What does the festival consist of?

Skye:”There is a professional mascot named Super Cherry.  Merchants set up stands and sell everything imaginable that is Cherry related.  Main stage entertainers come from all over the world.  There are baking and craft contests. Local restaurants and hotels are full and menus feature Cherry sauce, Cherry pie, Cherry mustard, Cherry wine, Cherry syrup, Cherry horseradish and Cherry ice cream.”

Analysis: Other communities in the US have food related festivals and observances– for instance Gilroy Garlic Days in California and the world famous Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Food festivals such as these are a reminder of how America became such a prosperous country, abounding with fertile soil. Many people nowadays do not farm as their main way of making money. But Americans who have multiple generations from the U.S. likely have ancestors who farmed. Celebrating the cherry is celebrating hard work, abundance, our history as an agricultural society, and our ability to innovate with simple foods.

For the official website, see here: http://www.cherryfestival.org/