TRAVERSE CITY — Ryan Whyte Maloney treasures his childhood memories of the National Cherry Festival and always hoped to return to Traverse City with his own children so they could enjoy a similar experience.
Maloney, a Traverse City native who lives in Las Vegas and was a contestant on the television show The Voice, will view this year’s Cherry Festival from a new vantage point: as a performer opening here for American Country Music’s New Artist of the Year, Justin Moore on July 11.
“Kid Rock represents Detroit, and I want to be the one to represent Traverse City,” Maloney said.
Maloney performed for an audience on Monday at the Hagerty Center, where festival officials announced new additions to this year’s events. They were joined by the festival’s new mascot, the caped and masked Super Cherry.
National Cherry Festival officials are gearing up for their 88th event, which will run from July 5-12 in Traverse City.
Foodies are in for a treat during opening weekend with two new events added to the lineup.
The Great American Picnic will start before the festival on July 4 and give families a chance to watch the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and other air show participants during their practice performance.
The second new event, christened Blues Brews and BBQ, will take place on July 5 and feature local microbrewery beers and ciders as well as barbecue. Attendees will get to vote on their favorite concoctions.
An event that pairs food and wine will return to the festival on July 6.
All the opening weekend foodie events will take place at the Hagerty Center.
“You’ve got a place where not only are you right on the bay to enjoy the Blue Angels show, but there are bathrooms and air conditioning and parking and great food and beverage,” said Stephanie Wiitala, a chef who planned the events.