TRAVERSE CITY — National Cherry Festival organizers are on notice, thanks to a summer 2014 grip on the city’s Open Space that blossomed to 17 days.
City officials are adamant that they expect major changes and a reduced festival schedule next year.
Traverse City commissioners criticized this year’s upcoming festival as too long, too expensive for the city, and an unnecessary infringement on city parks over the Fourth of July holiday. Commissioners last week approved the annual contract with the festival, but pledged to take a close look in September at festival operations.
“After all of the discussion after last year about curtailing festivals, and now we’ve extended the Cherry
Festival,” said Commissioner Gary Howe. “I’m hearing from a lot of people in the community it’s the Cherry Festival that’s too long and the length and intensity is a concern moving forward.”
The Cherry Festival typically begins the first Saturday in July but this year allows vendors, the midway, and beer tent to open a half-day earlier to accommodate Friday night holiday fireworks. A portion of those extra day proceeds will go to the Boom Boom Club, sponsor of the holiday fireworks.
The festival’s contract with the city allows festival workers to begin setting up on Sunday, June 29 and gives them until Tuesday, July 15, to clean up, or a total of 17 days as the primary Open Space occupant.
Several commissioners said they wanted to curtail the festival’s length, but in follow-up conversations said their focus will be to reduce the days allowed to set up and tear down. Commissioners also indicated they want to rewrite their new Open Space policy to bring the Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival under the same rules that limit other festivals in the city. Both events currently are exempt from the policy.