Every year more than 500,000 attendees enjoy the National Cherry Festival, which is now in its 82nd year. Families can enjoy many kinds of activities from cherry pit spitting and pie eating contests, to the Grand Royale Parade in which the newly crowned Cherry Queen greets the crowds.
Originally held in mid- to late July to coincide with the cherry harvest, the Festival was moved to early July to take advantage of the July 4th weekend. Cherries are harvested with a "shaker", that quickly vibrates the trunk of the cherry tree and the ripe cherries fall off into a large, expandable tarp. During the harvest approximately 200,000,000 pounds of tart (Montmorency) cherries are harvested. Other cherries, including sweet cherries and Balaton cherries are also harvested. The moderate climate, caused by the proximity of Lake Michigan and the sandy soil are why cherries grow so well in the region.
Traverse City is the "Cherry Capital of the World" and is in the Guinness Book of World Records, for baking the world's largest cherry pie (the pie was , weighing in at 28,350 pounds), unveiled at the festival on July 25, 1987. This replaced the pie baked nine years earlier in Charlevoix, Michigan. This record was held until July 14, 1990, when a pie weighing , in diameter was baked and eaten by approximately 1500 people in Oliver, British Columbia (the Wine Capital of Canada).