The Huge Summer Cherry Festival You Probably Didn't Know About

Some pretty bizarre food festivals are held in the United States. If you're a fan of canned meat, you can head to the Spam Jam in Waikiki, Hawaii. Consider yourself an omelet connoisseur? Plan a trip to the Giant Omelette Celebration in Abbeville, Louisiana. There's even a Roadkill Cook-off in Marlinton, West Virginia, complete with a pageant that crowns Miss Roadkill (via Thrillist). Despite the originality of these food festivals, it's the annual National Cherry Festival that really stands out, drawing thousands to Traverse City, Michigan for the yearly celebration.

The National Cherry Festival takes place each year for a week around the Fourth of July holiday, which happens to correspond with the cherry harvest season (via PopSugar). Activities include pie-baking contests, parades, fireworks, concerts, an art competition, and, of course, festival attendees can pick their own cherries to their hearts' content at numerous local cherry farms (via National Cherry Festival).

Michigan cherries are at the heart of this celebration

The National Cherry Festival was first held in 1924 — it was then called "Blessing of the Blossoms" — to celebrate the area's plentiful and cherry harvest (via

The festival's goals haven't changed much since the inaugural fair, which originally celebrated the city's rich history, copious cherry crop, and the hard work of cherry farmers from the area, some of whom have been growing cherries in the area for six generations — plus the joy cherries have brought to locals and tourists alike. Traverse City is rich in cherry history even outside of the festival season; you'll find roadside stands selling the fruit, as well as cherry wine in stores, and cherry dishes on menus in local restaurants, says the Traverse City tourist site.

The celebration has a unique history too, including a Cherry Royale Parade led by President Gerald Ford in 1975 and a world record set for the largest cherry pie in 1987 with a creation that weighed 28,350 pounds (via the official festival website).

Today, Traverse City is still all about the cherries. The city's airport is even named Cherry Capital Airport, according to the website. Word about the National Cherry Festival is spread by the National Cherry Queen, who is crowned during the festivities and serves as the ambassador for the festival, traveling across the country telling people about it, delivering pies, and toting the health benefits of the fruit (per the National Cherry Festival). With this sort of passion for cherries, the city's merry festival is sure to be around for years to come.