BY ANGIE JACKSON email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Rain and storms persisted nearly every day of the National Cherry Festival in 1994.
The nasty weather downed a festival tent and sent flocks of festival-goers to take cover and spend money at the Grand Traverse Mall, according to Record-Eagle reports from that year.
That was one of Mother Nature’s more prominent appearances at the festival. But no matter: Heavy rain and sweltering temperatures typically don’t scare off the masses, said National Cherry Festival Executive Director Trevor Tkach.
“What I’ve witnessed is that if people are compelled to come they’ll come no matter what the weather’s like. If it’s hot, if it’s rainy, if they want to see a concert or event they’re going to come to it,” Tkach said. “From a tourist perspective or from a local perspective with your kids, this is your one chance to do this.”
A cold front Friday will usher in cool air and drop temperatures to the mid-70s to kick off the festival, said Jeff Lutz, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Gaylord. A 30 percent chance of rain will linger through early Saturday, the festival’s opening day. A high-pressure system should “dry out everything,” Lutz said, and we should coast into the beginning of next week with temperatures in the mid-to upper-70s.
“It won’t be really hot,” Lutz said. “I think most people will enjoy the weather that comes up for at least the early part of the Cherry Fest.”
Maria Lammers, owner of Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery and long time Cherry Fest vendor, thinks this year’s forecast paired with the breeze off the bay will be pleasant. She’s seen rain and heat deter some people in her two decades as a vendor.
“We’ve had a few storms that have come in very quickly where they actually had to chase everybody out of there and send people home and batten down the sides because the winds were coming in,” Lammers said, estimating inclement weather shut down the vendor tent twice. “We’re talking mid-70s and clear skies. It should actually be perfect.”
Heat hasn’t impacted participation at ticketed events in recent years, Tkach said. Julie Millen, owner of Benjamin Twiggs, agreed that people attend the concerts and fireworks “no matter what.” She brings fans to the vendor tent to keep customers from melting.
“People will still come. They’re here for cherries and they don’t want to miss out on what’s available at the Open Space,” Millen said.