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Michigan's beloved cherry season is upon us and there is no better way to celebrate those sweet or tart summer gems than with the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City.
After a two-year absence, the festival kicks off on Saturday and in its usual big way with airshows, parades, concerts, and, of course, plenty of cherries to go around. here are more than 150 events spread across eight days. It's the 96th National Cherry Festival and typically draws more than 500,000 people.
A highlight is an annual airshow along West Grand Traverse Bay. On Saturday and Sunday, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are gracing the skies over the bay.
Sheryl Crow kicks off Bayside Music Stage concerts at 6 p.m. Saturday. On July 6, comedian Jim Gaffigan is on stage with his "The Fun Tour!" Several performers are scheduled throughout the week with ZZ Top on July 8 and closing out the festival on July 9 is Boyz II Men.
Cherries from the west side of Michigan are being brought in for festival-goers. But toward the final days of the festival, cherries from the Leelanau and Grand Traverse area will be ready.
There's a farm market with plenty of products with cherries tucked into everything imaginable. Throughout the week kids and adults can compete in several cherry pie-eating contests. There are also several cherry orchard tours throughout the week.
The official signature festival pie is Cherry Crumb Pie from Michigan-based Grand Traverse Pie Co.
Moomers Homemade Ice Cream ice cream has teamed up with the festival to create cherry Traffic Jam -- the official festival ice cream. The vanilla ice cream base includes graham crunch and a cherry swirl created locally made by Food For Thought.
Also, there are plenty of food-related events from a pancake breakfast to an American picnic.
Most of the events are free, though some, like the concerts, require a ticket purchase.
The festival takes place in downtown Traverse City and also includes events at the Grand Traverse Commons.
Contact Detroit Free Press food writer Susan Selasky and send food and restaurant news to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Beloved National Cherry Festival is back in full force: what to know