Travel

Cherry-flavored fun on tap at Traverse City's National Cherry Festival starting July 4th

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will take to the skies over West Grand Traverse Bay for two performances and a full practice show July 4-6 at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. (Photo credit: National Cherry Festival)

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will take to the skies over West Grand Traverse Bay for two performances and a full practice show July 4-6 at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. (Photo credit: National Cherry Festival)

Everything — even the beer — is coming up cherries at the 88th National Cherry Festival starting next weekend in Traverse City.

I was surprised to hear that Right Brain Brewery, located in the city’s Warehouse District, throws in 40 real cherry pies from Grand Traverse Pie Company and another 40 “deconstructed” pies (that is, minus the crumb crusts) in each batch of its Cherry Pie Whole Beer, which will be flowing throughout the eight-day extravaganza.

And while the popular festival officially runs July 5-12, visitors can kick off their holiday weekend sooner, starting at 1 p.m.  July 4 when the U.S. Navy Blue Angels — back for the first time in four years — perform a full practice run  before their official shows, July 5 and 6, above West Grand Traverse Bay.  All of the performances,  which feature  the first festival flight of an F-22 Raptor, are free, though you can join three cherry-related viewing events at the Hagerty Conference Center on the bay for an even more festive experience.

New this year is the Great American Picnic, a family-friendly party, on July 4 and Blues, Brews & BBQ on July 5.

The perennially popular Cherries D’Vine food- and wine-tasting event is July 6.

Check www.cherryfestival.org  for ticket and schedule information, including concerts, parades and several race events such as a new half- marathon through an Old Mission Peninsula cherry orchard and the Festival 10k, back for the first time in 36 years.

While local cherries are not expected to be ready until mid-July — and local farmers are forecasting the biggest crop in years — there will be plenty of festival cherries supplied by Traverse City’s sister cherry-producing region, Yakima, Washington. You’ll find them in everything from cider, sauces, sausages and salad dressings to pancakes, fudge and lemonade, not to mention Right Brain Brewery’s cherry pie  beer.

Susan R. Pollack

Globetrotting journalist and former Detroit News staff writer Susan R. Pollack has covered travel since 1985, visiting scores of countries on five continents, 49 states, six Canadian provinces and hundreds of cities, islands and outposts along the way. From Alaska, the Galapagos and New Zealand to South Africa, Thailand and Wales, she has suffered the occasional lost luggage, jetlag and Montezuma’s revenge but still delights in sharing travel adventures with readers. In addition to The Detroit News, her award-winning stories and photos have appeared in major newspapers including the Dallas News, Toronto Star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Chicago Sun Times; and magazines including Delta Sky, Midwest Living, Long Weekends, Experience Michigan, Jetsetter, Home & Away, Hour Detroit, Prevue Meetings and Group Tour. She has contributed to several books including “Rand McNally 2008 Ultimate NASCAR Road Trip Guide,” and is the copy editor for secondchancetravels.com. She also has written for websites including gardendestinations.com and travelingmom.com.