×

Annual cherry festival in Traverse City canceled

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — The National Cherry Festival, a major northern Michigan summer destination for decades, has been canceled for 2020 due to uncertainty over the coronavirus, organizers said Thursday.

The festival in Traverse City was scheduled for July 3-10. The event coincides with Independence Day and is a major tourist draw. It has parades, fireworks, concerts, farm tours, a carnival midway and cherry pie-eating contests.

Area hotels are packed. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels put on an air show.

“The safety and health of our entire community, guests, volunteers and staff is our first priority and always top of mind when making our decisions. … With the uncertainty of the times, we are unable to be fully confident in the fact that it will be safe to gather and celebrate the first week of July 2020,” organizers said in a written statement.

The festival celebrates the region’s signature fruit. Traverse City calls itself the cherry capital of the world, and Michigan’s northwestern Lower Peninsula grows most of the nation’s tart cherries, the variety used in pies.

Trevor Tkach, president of Traverse City Tourism, said the decision to cancel was painful but a “honorable thing to do.”