TRAVERSE CITY — Family-friendly activities are at the forefront of National Cherry Festival fun.
Friday's activities menu included infants crawling in the Diaper Derby, kids sculpting sand castles, and others scrawling chalk designs on the walls at the Festival Open Space.
By 9 a.m. families were underway with sand castle construction along the shore at the Senior Center Network on Barlow Street. Rose Zivkovich came with her daughter Maya, 4, and son Nicholas, 2. She sat with her mother, Pat Beck, who stitched on her embroidery hoop while they watched the kids play and create.
“Maya loves to play in the sand and we thought doing the sand castle competition would be a great way for them to participate in the festival,” she said. “The weather is perfect and both kids can be involved in the project together.”
A few yards away Caeli Gibbons, 13, studied her sketched plans for her sand sculpture with her brother Jacob, 10, and sister Bella, 7. The three already won a blue ribbon at Sunday’s Family Sand Sculpture contest for their creation of a sand quarter with an Eagle holding a cherry branch. This was her 10th year participating in the contest.
“I think it’s really fun to work together and get this done the best we can,” she said. “Teamwork is a big part of it. Since we’ve been doing it so long it has been getting easier, but it’s still challenging to come up with something creative that has to do with the Cherry Festival.”
A seven-minute walk up the shore found kids letting their imaginations fly by creating artistic renderings of their choice along the northern cement wall.
“I’ve learned to not have a theme planned so you don’t limit the kids,” children’s events director Lani Bathje said. She's a retired teacher from Buckley; this is her 43rd year as a festival volunteer.