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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.
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1910
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.


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1926
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.
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1942-1947
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.
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1978
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.

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1925
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.
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1929
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.

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1964
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.”


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1975
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.
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1925
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.


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1931
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.
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1968
The National Cherry Festival officially became a week-long celebration in 1968.




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1987
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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