Michigan is one of my favorite U.S. states – I even call it home during the summer months – and while I relish the chance to explore its diverse landscapes, villages, and museums for the Moon Michigan  guide, I’ve found that one of the best ways to experience Michigan culture is to attend one of its many festivals and events – from the Traverse City Film Festival to the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Powwow in Mount Pleasant.
If you’re visiting Michigan in early July, you simply can’t miss the National Cherry Festival  in Traverse City – surely the state’s most popular and most anticipated event. Started in 1926, the National Cherry Festival now lures more than half a million visitors every summer. This year’s Cherry Fest, which kicked off this morning with the Million Dollar Hole-in-One Golf Contest, runs till next Saturday.
All week long, visitors to the self-proclaimed “Cherry Capital of the World” will be treated to a wide variety of activities, including concerts, parades, air shows, fireworks displays, arts-and-crafts fairs, carnival games, classic film screenings, volleyball tournaments, and old-fashioned picnics. Other eagerly awaited events include the Old Mission Peninsula Bike Tour, the nostalgic Hagerty Family Car Show, the Planters Go Nuts! Bed Race, and the Cherryland Band Classic – a championship featuring some of the best high school marching bands in the Midwest.
If you’re feeling brave, there might still be time to enter an assortment of competitions, from cherry pit-spitting bouts to a family-friendly sand sculpture contest to the CHERRYOPOLY Tournament. Children can even take on their peers in events like the pet show, chalk art contest, bicycle rodeo, or turtle races. And, of course, what would a cherry festival be without its share of cherry-related competitions and events? With cherry pie-eating contests, guided cherry orchard tours, the Grand Traverse Pie Make & Bake, and two popular epicurean events – Cherries D’Vine at Northwestern Michigan College and Cherries Grand Buffet at the historic City Opera House – the National Cherry Festival has got you covered.
Although I’ve never had the stomach for food-related battles, I love everything else about the Cherry Fest. In summers past, I’ve happily braved the crowds to watch the ever-popular air show or taste the finest of Michigan’s regional wines and cherry cuisine. And I don’t plan on missing this year’s event either – perhaps I’ll even see you there!
For more information about the National Cherry Festival, visit the website  or call the hotline at 800/968-3380.