Surviving the National Cherry Festival - The Awesome Mitten
Northern Michigan

How A Local Survives The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City

I’m not afraid to admit (and neither are other Traverse City natives) that the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City can be, and might be, one of the most insane times of the year. While I thoroughly enjoy the boost in business for the downtown district, it is really difficult to tolerate the limited amount of parking, crowded bars, and filthy streets as a result of festival traffic. Fortunately, this year’s National Cherry Festival will include a ban on smoking within festival grounds which should keep our beloved open space just a tiny bit cleaner for the rest of the summer. If you want to survive the National Cherry festival then you’ll need to stock your bomb shelter, put on a few extra pounds, load up on gasoline before prices increase, and read the rest of this article. Yeah? YEAH.

1.) Work…a lot

It might not seem like the funnest (I said funnest) thing to do during a week where tons of people are drinking and on vacation, but working during the festival will keep you away from the crowds and indoors. Where it’s probably air conditioned, and probably quiet. But, on the flip-side there will be absolutely no parking. If you’re lucky enough to find somewhere to park it will cost you an arm, a leg, and four fingers. Better start deciding which ones you’re going to keep or you could just…

Surviving the National Cherry Festival - The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of  Flickr user @lomeranger

2.) Carpool or bike

Regardless of if you’re a Traverse City native or an out-of-town guest, this is a great idea any time of year, but especially during the National Cherry Festival. If you know friends who live downtown, park your car and walk or bike from their house. Or, pack up your clunker with a group of work buddies or fellow travelers and chip in for parking. And hey, if Mom and Dad are still in the picture, see if they’ll drop you off wherever you need to be. Just pretend like parking doesn’t exist during festival week and it’ll all be groovy.

3.) If you’re going to drive…

We all know this by now, but, if you’re going to drive the week of the festival GET GAS EARLY. I mean, hoard it. Fill up your bunker with it. Whatever you need to do because it’s going to get pricey fast.

Surviving the National Cherry Festival - The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Brian Esler

4.) Stock up the fridge

You know all the beer you like, maybe that wine or local liquor? Get it early and get lots of it. Yes, some of it will probably be out of stock on shelves during festival week but that’s not the real problem here. The real problem (is it even a problem?) is that when you get home (or to your hotel, campsite, etc), after dealing with crowds all day and running around in the sweltering sun the only thing you’re going to want is an ice cold Michigan beer, wine, or other cool beverage sitting in your hand. Or maybe ten of them. I don’t know.

5.) Last but not least…

If you’re planning on going to go to the festival – go to the concert series. The Bayside Music Stage Concerts get better each year (or worse depending on who you are.) Although it might still be crowded, it is a good break from all the cherry paraphernalia flying around that week and a great spot to have a cold one at the beer tent. Need we say more?

Get your bomb shelters ready, stock up on beer and gas and get ready for the National Cherry festival. It’s only 9 days, 20 hours and 46 minutes away according to the National Cherry Festival website at this time. It’ll be here before you know it. What are you waiting for? GO PREPARE YOURSELF!

How do you plan on surviving the National Cherry Festival? Do you have any events you’re looking forward to attending that week?

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. The only way I can survive Cherry Fest is by skipping town for the entire week. I’m leaving Friday.

    I live downtown, on Front St. There most definitely IS NOT a boost in business for everyone in the downtown district. Shoplifting and nightmare clientele. It’s a week many of us dread. 🙁

  2. I know it’s a pain in the butt for many of us who live here, but it’s just a week out of the summer. We have three kids and try to take them 2-3 times to have a chance to experience everything. I remember growing up loving the Cherry Festival so much. Even though we couldn’t afford to do much, I loved every moment spent there.
    I am curious as to how the smoking ban will be enforced with such large crowds.

    1. They will have volunteers walking around for the sole purpose of informing patrons. Signs will be up as well. I do agree it can be fun, truly, but it can also be a hassle for people who make their living owning a business downtown.

  3. Growing up a true local meant that Cherry Festival was in mid to late July, you went downtown to meet your friends at the carnival, you loved the Heritage Parade for the local flavor, the Children’s parade for seeing your classmates and friends, you went down to watch the Milk Carton boat regatta and watched fireworks from your friend’s boat. Now, most locals go down to the beer tent to meet up with old classmates, get your Gibby Fries and stay away as much as possible.

  4. Seriously? With all the improvements to BATA you don’t mention using our local transit system…..leave the cars home and call BATA 231-941-2324

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