TRAVERSE CITY — National Cherry Festival officials will trim two of the 17 days they reserved to use the Open Space for this summer’s event.
The move comes about a week after Traverse City commissioners criticized the Cherry Festival as too long, too large, and too expensive. Commissioners vowed to take a close look at festival operations after this year’s event.
The festival itself will still operate for eight days, plus a half-day on the July 4 holiday. The midway, beer tent, and vendors will be open a portion of that day for the fireworks celebration, and the full festival is set to begin July 5 and extend through July 12.
Festival officials decided to leave the Open Space open on Sunday, June 29 and begin setting up for the festival on June 30. They will also eliminate July 15 as a tear-down day.
The decision came in response to recent complaints by city commissioners and some residents about the festival’s lengthy use of the city-owned Open Space. Many considered the 17 days too long, following city commissioners’ decision this year to limit Open Space use for other festivals.
“We consider the eight days of the festival the best use of public property,” said Trevor Tkach, festival executive director. “We’re basically throwing a party and everybody has access to it. So it’s an opportunity for people to come down and enjoy the Open Space, but the set-up and tear-down does limit access to the property.”
The festival traditionally does most of its tear-down on the Sunday after festival close, with just a few items to pick up by Monday. Officials tacked on the following Tuesday in case of storms or high winds, but rarely have they needed the extra day. Reducing the set-up from five days to four creates a tighter window, though.