Hey Traverse City, Shut Your Pie Hole About Cherry Fest! [Opinion]
Its time for residents in Traverse City and Northern Michigan to stop crying about the National Cherry Festival and realize the positive impact it brings to the area.
Every year residents in Northern Michigan complain about one of the biggest events in the state, the National Cherry Festival. Residents take to social media and cry about the traffic, population increase, and "flat landers" that invade Traverse City for the annual festival. When the end of June hits, social media is filled with statuses like "The traffic is so bad! I can't stand all the downstaters coming to my hometown to clog up the city for Cherry Fest!" or "It took me 35 minutes to drive to work and it usually only takes 10, thanks Cherry Fest" or my personal favorite "The Cherry Fest does NOTHING for Traverse City other than make it harder to get around and pollute the area!"
Seriously? I mean I understand tourists leaving their trash is a big issue every summer, but National Cherry Fest volunteers do the best they can to make TC clean and safe during the festival. I also understand how frustrating traffic is during Cherry Fest. While working in radio in Northern Michigan, Cherry Fest was known as "Hell Week" because of how bad the traffic is. It does suck, but the benefits outweigh the extra time it takes to get around Traverse City every time its Cherry Fest season. Don't believe me? Lets look at the numbers...
Lets start with how many people visit during Cherry Fest. According to the NCF Community Report more than 662,000 visited Traverse City during the eight days of Cherry Fest in 2016. Think about that number, 662,000 tourists flood Traverse City and spend their hard earned money at the festival and downtown. Traverse City is home to 15,000 residents, yet 662,000 people spent more than $26 MILLION last year during Cherry Fest. $26 million spent in Traverse City means local shops stay alive and prosper off of the festival. In fact, each out-of-town visitor spends on average spends $86 per day. That is a lot of money! Oh and lets not forget the hotels, restaurants, and bars that are packed during Cherry fest week! The economic impact of the Cherry Fest is insane and further proof that a little bit of traffic is totally worth it for the amount of money it brings in!
Not only does Cherry Fest bring in so many people to Traverse City, but those coming to Downtown TC from downstate have to pass through other small Northern Michigan cities. That equals dollars, and dollars are good for towns that normally don't have much traffic throughout the summer. This is all great for small Northern Michigan towns because profit keeps cities alive. Cities like Kalkaska, Fife Lake, Elk Rapids, and more all benefit from Cherry Fest.
Another complaint from locals is the cost of Cherry Fest. This is an odd complaint considering 150 events happen during the 8 days of Cherry Fest, 85% of them being FREE! The best price is free, and there's plenty of great events for the entire family including the Blue Angels that perform for free every other year at the Cherry Fest. You can walk around Cherry Fest and enjoy talent shows,
Las but not least, the great national acts that are coming to Traverse City this year for the fest is just another reason why its time to stop complaining. The lineup this year is amazing! Shinedown, REO Speedwagon, Cole Swindell, TruTV's Impractical Jokers, and Michigan native Mark Farner are all great acts that would normally not even visit the area! Sure, the Cherry Fest could work more on bringing more hip-hop and Top40 acts, but its a great lineup nonetheless.
I think its time for residents of TC and the surrounding areas to realize all the good the National Cherry Fest brings ever year. I know, its a headache and you'd love to have peace and quiet all summer long, but 8 days out of the summer to deal with tourists and slow drivers is totally worth it when it brings $26 million to your community.