The annual National Cherry Festival got its start around 1910, as cherry growers in the Grand Traverse area began to hold informal “blessing of the blossoms” ceremonies each year at blossom time in May. Businesses jumped on the bandwagon (cherry truck?) in 1925 for the formalized “Blessing of the Blossoms Festival” which was such a big deal that in 1930 they expanded to 3 days and in 1930 President Herbert Hoover attended the opening. The next year the Cherry Festival was declared a national affair and in 1933 they moved it to summer.
Although it’s now a summertime affair (July 2-9, 2011), the wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula hold an annual Blossom Days celebration (May 14 & 15 this year). My informal read of the cherry blossoms here says that tart cherry blossoms will be in full swing with sweets kicking off.
Apparently in 1906 there was some sort of spiritual attraction of orchards, because to the south in Benton Harbor, the Reverend W. J. Cady of the First Congregational Church in Benton Harbor was the first to urge his parishioners to drive through the orchards and view the fruit blossoms. Cady termed them “symbols of life renewed” and his sermon is credited with the birth of the Blossomtime Festival. Now the Blossomtime Festival in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor is shared between the oldest and largest multi-community festival in the state of Michigan. Join them this Saturday (May 7) for the Grand Floral Parade and more!