TRAVERSE CITY — You'll find Tiffany Cole on the rides.
Cole, 16, of Traverse City, volunteers at the National Cherry Festival, and on Monday busied herself distributing pamphlets to visitors. But when she's not working, Cole is sure to be twirling, zipping, or bouncing around on the carnival rides that line Grandview Parkway.
There's no such thing as too much Cherry Fest, Cole said, especially since it comes just once a year.
"I never get tired of it," she said. "I come every day, all day."
The festival offers plenty for young children, but teens and twentysomethings also have several reasons to wade into the action. Food, beer, rides and more keep them busy all week long.
The beer tent is tremendously popular for pretty much anyone 21 and older. A bay view and fresh air provide a welcome change of pace for those who normally jam into noisy, crowded bars. The tent is at the tip of the Open Space and is surrounded by plenty of room to walk around, giving drinkers a unique lounge.
"It's relaxing, with a good atmosphere," said Chelsea Diem, 25, who regularly comes to the festival from Cadillac.
Plenty of young people volunteer at the festival. Summer residents Reanna Averill, 16, and Olivia Storch, 15, are among the dozens of volunteers who help the fest run smoothly all week long. Olivia, a self-described "people person" said she loves helping people and watching them pour into town for the festival.
"That's pretty much the same for me," Averill said. "But I also love Gibby's fries."
One European twentysomething wasn't as impressed with the food. Julie Foguenne, 29, of Belgium, was in town with her Belgian and French friends. They snacked on cherry pie and some fresh cherries, but expected to find more cherry options among the fried selections.
"You really have to look hard to find cherry food, which is kind of disappointing," Foguenne said.
Townsfolk in Avon, Ind. might receive more favorable reviews. Noelle Sercer, 17, is in town from there with a few friends. They had just begun to explore the festival Monday afternoon and were impressed with the variety of food, the beach location and carnival rides.
"It's a traditional-looking festival," Sercer said. "I bet it's really pretty at night."
Teens out of school wander around the festival all day. They often mill about on the Union Street bridge over the Boardman River, or pack into the carnival area.
Maayingen Brauker, 15, said he and his friends meet up at the festival all week long. He loves crowds of people, he said, but with the tourist horde comes plenty of headaches for locals. Especially concerning is the average tourist's lack of familiarity with local streets, Brauker said.
"Them not knowing what they're doing is screwing us up," he said. "I've almost been hit by three cars this week. I like to be around a lot of people, but not people that don't know what they're doing."
TRAVERSE CITY — You'll find Tiffany Cole on the rides.
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