Cherry Festival 2016 Dates - July 2 - 9, 2016.
Cherry, the round red gem like small fruit has a great festive value besides its sweet nutritive value. Yes..! Its all about the Cherry festival celebrated during the spring season.
The National Cherry Festival is celebrated in Traverse City of the U.S. state of Michigan. Traverse City is also known as the “Cherry Capital of the World”.
This tradition began in1910 as a religious prayer ceremony “blessing of the blossom” to enhance the yield of good cherries. During the early period of 20th century the cherry growers gathered and asked their priest to bless their crop for good production. In the following years they planted more and more orchards and the cherry cultivation became main source of their income. Later in 1925, the Traverse City businesses partnered with the local cherry farmers and they celebrated “blessing of the blossom” festival to promote the growing cherry industry and generate tourism.
It is celebrated in the spring season which is the cherry harvest period. Earlier it was celebrated in third to fourth weak of July but now it has been moved to the first weak. More than 500,000 people attend this festival every year which includes more than 150 activities like crowning of the Cherry Queen, band competition, air shows, parades, midway rides, sports activities, cherry pie eating contest, cherry tasting, orchard tours, cherry farm market, a sweet cherry luncheon and many more.
The Cherry Festival Queen was selected after drawing her name out of a hat. Gertrude Brown, a high school honor student was selected as the first Cherry Festival Queen. Later from 1926 onwards the Queen was selected after voting. The applicants for the contest should be a local and also photogenic. The photos of all the nominees will be printed in the local news paper along with ballet form. Charlotte Kearns was the first Queen selected in this manner; she won the victory over other 26 candidates for 702 votes. The Queen greets the crowds in her Grand Royale Parade.
In 1926, the tradition of presenting huge cherry pie to the U.S. president by the Cherry Festival Queen began by presenting a huge cherry pie containing more than 5,000 cherries and weighing 42 pounds baked in the Hawkins bakery of Traverse City to the President of U.S. Calvin Coolidge.
The “Blessing of the Blossom” festival was renamed as the Michigan Cherry Festival in 1928. After the success of the 1929 festival, the General Chairman Larry Larsen and his committee decided to celebrate the 1930 festival for three days with more parades, boat race and many other events. The president Herbert Hoover attended the opening day ceremony of 1930 cherry festival. In 1931, a resolution was passed by the Michigan state legislature making the cherry festival one amongst the national festival and thus it was renamed to “The National Cherry Festival”.
In the 1933 cherry festival parade a new event was introduced in which a beer truck dispensed the beer along its way in the parade to celebrate the end of prohibition. A “Cherry Pickers Night” contest was added to the 1936 festival. Another event the “Dog Show and Parade” was introduced in the 1939 festival. The dogs which were the biggest, smallest, fattest, thinnest etc. were given prizes. In 1941, the famous boxer Joe Louis attended the festival and also refereed several boxing matches.
The festival was suspended during the World War II year (1942-1947) and started again in 1948. In the 1953 Cherry Royale parade the Anheuser –Busch Clydesdale horses made their first appearance. The first Sand Castle Tournament was held in the 1963 festival on the beach at the Clinch Park. In 1964 festival committee decided to expand the celebration for five days. In 1968 the festival officially expanded to a week long celebration and the week of July 6 was declared as the “National Cherry Festival Week”.
The 1975 Cherry Royale Parade was attended by over 300,000 people and it broke the all time record. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbird performed for the first time in the 1978 festival. A World record was created in the 1987 National Cherry Festival by baking the world’s largest Cherry pie which weighed about 28,350 pounds. The National Cherry Festival is thus expanding year by year with lots of new events and more fun.