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  • Writer's pictureJohn Gonzalez

National Cherry Festival 2023: Top things to Do


TRAVERSE CITY, MI - It's time for the 97th annual National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, and Behind the Mitten is no stranger to all the sights, sounds and spectacular activities you can experience July 1-8. at Open Space Park

Just for you, we have put together a list of some of the things you don't want to miss during the festival, which begins with the FREE and open to the public, Open Ramp on Friday (June 30) to meet air show participants. (Details below.)

Behind the Mitten will be in the middle of all the action this weekend and next. Make sure to come back for more photos and podcasts.

In the meantime, CLICK HERE or scroll below for an interview with Kat Paye, NCF Executive Director, who talks about the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which perform July 1-2, and the 30th Anniversary Pow Wow on Monday, July 3. Learn more at

Behind the Mitten's Top Things to Do at the National Cherry Festival

U.S. Coast Guard Open Ramp

Date: June 30, 2023

Time: 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Location: USCG Air Station Traverse City

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City is hosts the National Cherry Festival Airshow aerial demonstration teams. The public is invited to come out and meet members of the local Coast Guard, as well as the other demonstration teams participating in this year’s exciting Cherry Festival Airshow! This is a FREE event.

Very Cherry Flying Pancake Breakfast

Date: July 01, 2023

Time: 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Cost: $8.00 - $15.00

Location: Open Space Park

Support a good cause and enjoy a flipping good time as Chris Cake's pancakes soar through the air in support of The Festival Foundation. Top your cakes with Cherry Topping & Out of the Woods Maple Syrup

Festival Open Space Park and Cherry Farm Market

Date: July 01 - July 08, 2023

Time: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM

Location: Open Space Park

Immerse yourself in the National Cherry Festival, enjoy local cherry products and the Cherry Farmer's Market at the main festival grounds located on West Grand Traverse Bay in the Open Space Park.

Official National Cherry Festival Souvenir Tent

Date: July 01 - July 08, 2023

Time: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM

Location: Open Space Park

Get your Official National Cherry Festival Souvenirs here!

Arnold's Amusements Midway

Date: July 01 - July 08, 2023

Location: Corner of Grandview Parkway at Union Street

Arnold's Amusements is a staple of the National Cherry Festival! Founded in Traverse City, festival goers love to welcome The Arnold's family and their amusement park each year.

$1.50 single tickets

22 tickets / $30

50 tickets / $60

Daily armbands are:

Open - 5 p.m. - $30

5 p.m. - close - $30

Kids day ( Thursday)

$25 good all day, sold till 5, after 5 $30

Rides require 3 or more tickets per person, per ride.

Ultimate Day Wristband Good for rides, open to close on any 1 day,

$50 per day, $10 savings

Air Show

Date: July 01 - July 02, 2023

Time: 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Location: West Grand Traverse Bay

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team takes to the skies. This six person team performs both formations and solo routines. This is a FREE EVENT of the National Cherry Festival. Several ticketed foodie events with Air Show View will be available.

Concerts at The Pepsi Bayside Music Stage

Here Come The Mummies & Laith Al-Saadi

Date: July 01, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM - 10:30 PM

Cost: $20.00 - $145.00

Flo Rida

Date: July 02, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM

Cost: $50.00 - $175.00

Night Ranger

wsg Stephen Pearcy's Ratt

Date: July 03, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM

Cost: $30.00 - $155.00

Theory of a Deadman & Skillet

Date: July 04, 2023

Time: 6:00

Cost: $45.00 - $60.00

3 Doors Down

Away From The Sun Tour

wsg Candlebox

Date: July 05, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM

Cost: $60.00 - $75.00

Jordan Davis

wsg Tyler Booth

Date: July 06, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM

(Sold out)


Date: July 07, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM

Cost: $50.00

Jeff Foxworthy

Larry The Cable Guy

Date: July 08, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM

Cost: $60.00 - $80.00

Adult Cherry Pit Spit Contest

Date: July 01 - July 07, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Location: Open Space Park

It's back! The tradition of the Cherry Pit Spit Contest continues. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the record distance is 95 feet and 6.5 inches. See if you can beat the record at the National Cherry Festival! No fee required. Adults, age 18 and older, may participate.

Arts & Crafts Fair

Date: July 02, 2023

Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Location: Union Street

This juried arts and crafts fair held in Traverse City features more than 100 artists from across the Midwest. Purchase unique, local, hand-crafted items and art. The Arts and Crafts Fair will be on Union Street starting south of Front Street and ending at the South Union Street Bridge at the Boardman/Ottaway River.

Classic Car Show

Register Now

Date: July 02, 2023

Time: 11:00 AM

Cost: $15.00 (for cars)

Location: Old Town

The Classic Car Show returns to Old Town! It's a nostalgic look at cars, trucks, tractors, and motorcycles from throughout the Midwest. Hundreds of show-condition collector vehicles will be featured. Show Entrance is located at the corner of Union and 6th Street. The Top Ten Vehicles (voted on by registered vehicle owners) and a Best in Show Trophy will be awarded at a ceremony at 1pm Lay Park.

Kids Cherry Pie Eating Contest

Date: July 03 - July 07, 2023

Time: 1:00 PM

Location(s): F & M Park at Railroad & Washington Streets

Watch them in action! Age classifications from pre-school to 12 years old. Contest starts at 1:00 pm with the youngest contestants and goes until all age groups are complete. Please arrive 15 minutes early to register.

4th of July Fireworks

Date: July 04, 2023

Time: 10:30 PM

Location: Open Space Park

The Traverse City Boom Boom Club always puts on an amazing firework show each year!

Ultimate Air Dogs

Date: July 06 - July 08, 2023

Location: Open Space Park

The Ultimate Air Dogs competition features nearly one hundred "dog athletes" and their proud owner/trainers competing for advancement in the regional competition.

Queen's Coronation

Date: July 07, 2023

Time: 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Cost: $45.00

Location: Hagerty Center at Northwestern Michigan College Maritime Academy

Meet the four candidates competing to be the Next National Cherry Queen. Doors open at 5:00 pm. Heavy hors d'oeuvres will be served and a cash bar is available. Crowning of the 2023/2024 Queen is at 7:30pm.

Festival Finale Fireworks

Date: July 08, 2023

Time: 10:30 PM


West Grand Traverse Bay

The National Cherry Festival is thrilled to welcome back the Festival Finale Fireworks!

Learn more at

Listen to Kat Paye, NCF Executive Director, talk about this year's festival. Tune in at the 11-minute mark for an interview with Olivia Coolman, the 2022-2023 National Cherry Festival Queen, followed by our segment with Kat.

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