As a Minnesota native and someone who appreciates the wonders of the outdoors, I’m officially convinced that Traverse City (TC), MI – Gemba’s stomping grounds – is the playground of the north. With its small town feel, intimate beaches, and vast array of seasonal festivals, there’s not much more one could ask for.
TC is the Cherry Capital of the World, so it only makes sense that our biggest event of the year, the National Cherry Festival, revolves around the blossoming cherry orchards of northern Michigan. Last weekend kicked off the festival, with over 500,000 tourists flooding the streets to soak in the sites and experience summer in all of its suntanned glory.
I’m a Cherry Festival rookie. I moved here last September after spending two humid years in Florida, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Friends warned me about the crowds and the traffic, that commuting to and from work might bring out spurts of road rage, that walking along the sidewalks will feel more like mucking your way through peanut butter than taking a casual stroll around town.
What they didn’t tell me, though, was how lucky I’ll feel to live and work in such a desirable, friendly, beautiful place that can only be described as paradise. They didn’t tell me the Airshow would send shivers down my spine as five Blue Angel Navy jets flew over my head. Or that watching an incredible fireworks display on the shores of the West Bay would remind me of the summers I spent at my childhood cabin. Or that sipping craft beer atop a riverside patio while taking in the views of a sun-painted lake would be the simplest, happiest moment of the day.
Despite the crowds, despite the traffic, despite the fact that every restaurant in town has a long line bursting out the door, the Cherry Festival brings out the happy-go-lucky kid in everyone who attends. Whether they’re cruising on their boat, parasailing along the bays, or munching on sweet, juicy cherries, tourists and locals come together to cherish and explore the deep-rooted community of Traverse City.
So next year, when you’re planning your 4th of July holiday or just looking for an outdoor oasis to escape to, keep the Cherry Festival in mind, and make sure you stop by the Gemba office to say hello. We’ll welcome you with open, suntanned arms!