TRAVERSE CITY — Sabrina Eisner attended the National Cherry Festival for the first time last year and enjoyed it enough to postpone her traditional summer trip to the West Coast until after the festival this year.
Still, she doesn’t believe the festival offers enough for teens.
“I went a few times last year and I got kind of bored because I kind of did everything,” said Eisner, 15, a sophomore at Traverse City West Senior High.
It’s a refrain often heard about the area, even when it comes to the National Cherry Festival, which tries to cater events to multiple generations. Teens are too old for turtle races and too young for bingo.
The festival is upping its game this year with more activities geared toward the teen crowd. Plans include a new teen disc golf tournament Saturday, an enhanced HEAT Beach Party with a “Minute To Win It”-style contest Tuesday, and a “Hunger Games” costume contest during teen movie night Wednesday.
Teen-friendly prizes include concert tickets, a paddleboard, jet ski and boat rentals, headphones, restaurant and M-22 gift certificates, and a hot air balloon ride.
Festival Executive Director Trevor Tkach said the renewed focus on teens is driven by the festival's new teen activities director, Anna O’Hara. O'Hara, 19, is a freshman at St. Xavier University and a scout working toward her Girl Scouts Gold Award.
“I’ve always loved the Cherry Festival and I’ve been an ambassador,” said O’Hara, of Traverse City. “I'm going into project management, so I thought it would be a great idea to get involved in organizing events to see how I like it, and to put a new spin on teen activities and have something more for them to do than the rides and food.”
Saturday’s disc golf tournament at Hickory Hills already has attracted some online registrants but participants also can register at the event. A $10 fee includes lunch, a chance at prizes and a disc with the National Cherry Festival logo.