One of the state’s largest festivals has added its name to the growing number of canceled events.
For the first time since 1947, the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City has been canceled.
There have been many discussions with the board of directors and staff about the plans for the festival, which was scheduled to take place from July 4 to July 11. As deadlines got closer, they knew a decision needed to be made.
“We have certain timelines in our festival planning,” said Kat Paye, executive director of the National Cherry Festival. “All of a sudden we were getting to 100 days, 90 days, 80 days. I was like, ‘Wow, we do not know when this is going to end and when it’s going to be a safe position to invite and encourage that many people to be together at one time.’ When we say safety of the community, this is not just or guests. We have 2400 volunteers.”
Paye says that was the largest factor on why the decision was made to cancel the festival. It was a difficult decision, but safety of others was top priority.
“We have 500,000 guests—this is not a 20-person barbecue in the backyard,” she said. “This is a very large amount of people in close quarters. That was a concern for us and our community and whether or not it was a safe time to encourage a large event.”
The festival holds 150 events in eight days—all centered around Northern Michigan’s favorite fruit. But because the festival is canceled, Paye says that doesn’t mean cherries and growers won’t be celebrated.
“We will find a way to celebrate cherries—that is what we do and have done for 93 years,” said Paye. “We will do it. It might be virtual, it might be different, but we’re going to take this opportunity to do that. All we can do is support our growers and our community.”
The last time festival was canceled from 1942 to 1947 because of World War II and the depression. Because the National Cherry Festival is such an important economic driver in Traverse City, Paye says they are doing to do whatever they can to support the community that has supported the festival.
For a complete list of frequently asked questions about the cancelation of the National Cherry Festival, click here.