Cherry Festival caps another successful event

Another National Cherry Festival, the 91st, is now history.

But before it fades, let’s cast a last look at this nationally recognized event that has become such a part of the Traverse City brand and Northwest Michigan fruit growing industry vigor.

To new NCF Director Kat Paye, her management team and phenomenal corps of volunteers, a salute for a job well done.

A year of planning and untold hours manifests itself in the first week in July celebration. Set up alone requires four days and more, yet when the final fireworks display is over Saturday evening, there’s a virtual non-stop beehive of clean up activity.

Come Monday morning, only a few visible festival remnants dot the open space and attendant parking areas—-which only hours before housed vendor tents, performance venues, a food court, an amusement park, pie eating and watermelon seed spitting contests, and on and on and on….

Little did the cherry growers at the turn of the century, circa 1910, envision what their informal “blessing of the blossoms” would become when they held an inaugural ceremonial celebration in May.

Today, 250 million pounds of fruit, 3.8 million tart cherry trees, and half a million sweet cherry trees give the Grand Traverse region claim to the title Cherry Capital of the World. That tallies to 75% tarts and 20% sweets of the nation’s cherry crop.

To the nameless thousands who have contributed to this accomplishment by dint of their hard work, perseverance and pioneering spirit, we salute you.

You have made a difference.

Bob and Janet Underwood were Industry Couple of the year in 1996.