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Festival History

Big Moments During the Festival

These are just a few of our favorite historical moments surrounding the National Cherry Festival. We look forward to creating many more special memories going forward.
Sometime around 1910, cherry growers in the Grand Traverse area began to hold informal “blessing of the blossoms” ceremonies each year at blossom time in May.

In 1926, Hawkins Bakery in Traverse City baked a huge cherry pie and presented it to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge. The pie, being three feet in diameter and containing more than 5,000 cherries, had to be loaded into a car through the windshield and into the back seat.
The National Cherry Festival was suspended during the World War II (1942-47), but it has been held continuously every year since. 1946 was considered too soon after the War, and in 1947 Traverse City celebrated its Centennial; so the National Cherry Festival was postponed until 1948.
In 1978 the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed for the first time. Five T-38 fighters dazzled the crowd gathered at the beaches with acrobatic feats and heart-stopping maneuvers.

In 1925 the first-ever Cherry Queen was crowned. Her name was Gertrude Brown. This was the beginning of a widely celebrated local tradition that still happens every year. Click the link below to see previous Queens.
The 1929 festival was so successful that General Chairman Larry Larsen and his committee decided to make the 1930 Festival a three-day affair. President Herbert Hoover attended the opening day ceremonies.

In 1964 the Cherry Festival Committee voted to expand the Festival to a five-day celebration. The week of July 6 was proclaimed as “National Cherry Festival Week.”

The Cherry Royale Parade broke the all-time record in 1975, boasting 180 entries and attended by over 300,000 people. President Gerald Ford, a Michigan native and former Congressman, led the parade as Grand Marshal.
The “Blessing of the Blossoms Festival” began on May 22, 1925 when Traverse City businesses partnered with the local cherry farmers to promote the growing industry.

In 1931 the Michigan state legislature passed a resolution making the Cherry Festival a national celebration. To celebrate, seven ships of the US Navy Great Lakes training fleet arrived in Traverse City and three companies of US Navy sailors paraded through the streets.
The National Cherry Festival officially became a week-long celebration in 1968.

Traverse City set a world record by baking the world's largest cherry pie on July 25, 1987. The pie was 17 ft 6 in and weighed in at 28,350 pounds.

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