The main reason why we planned our trip to Traverse City in July was because of the Cherry Festival. It was not because we wanted to experience the northern part of Michigan, not because we wanted to see the beautiful beaches, maybe a little bit because of the famous food and wineries in the area, but mostly because we wanted to go to the annual cherry festival and eventually go cherry picking. That was the sole purpose of the five-hour drive road trip. And I have to say, I am very happy and glad we did it. Because cherries. Who doesn’t love cherries?
The cherry festival offers a list of cherry farm that allow you to come and pick yourself, so called U-pick farms. There are about 20 locations but it’s important to call them ahead of time because it turned out some closed, some switched to other fruits and others just weren’t ready. We went to Edmondson’s Orchards, or famously known as Cherry Connection. The process was quick and painless: you get a bucket, go out and pick the cherries in the farm, come back to weigh them and pay $2 per pound. As a group you need to pick at least 5 pounds, which was a piece of cake for us.
미시간은 체리로 유명한 지역. 매년 체리 축제가 열리고 이와 함께 체리 농장들도 여행객들에게 체리를 직접 딸 수 있도록 시간을 마련해주는데 중요한 것은 직접 전화해서 열었는지, 농장 체험을 할 수 있는지 확인해야한다는 것. 총 20여개의 농장 중에 위치가 맞는 10군데를 전화해봤지만 결국 시간과 장소, 우리의 목적에 딱 맞는 곳은 하나였다. 대부분 아직 준비가 덜 되었거나 체리가 아닌 다른 과일로 전환했거나 전화를 안받은 경우. 가장 유명한 체리 커넥션이라는 농장에 갔는데 시스템은 나름 간단: 거기서 주는 양동이를 들고 정해진 농장에 들어가서 직접 체리를 따고 다 땄다 싶으면 무게를 재고 돈을 내고 가져가는 시스템. 물론 따는 과정에서 먹게 되는 체리들은 무료. 1파운드에 $2정도라니, 마음껏 먹고 딸 수 있는 분위기. (물론 이런 곳들은 대부분 현금만 받는다는 사실)
I learned some tricks along the way: the younger the tree, the better the cherries. G seemed to be an expert and it turned out Bari is also famous for its cherries. I didn’t understand why he was walking further away from the parking lot, but it turned out he was looking for younger, smaller and shorter trees. We ate up all the ones we picked before finding the younger trees and filled the buckets with fresher, younger and bigger cherries.
알고보니 G는 체리 전문가. 이유는 바로 고향 바리에서도 체리 농장이 있다는 사실. 우리는 무조건 보이는 체리들을 먹어보고 따는 가운데 G는 농장 안으로 깊숙히 들어가 젊고 작고 조금 덜 자란듯한 체리나무들을 골라 따고 있었다. 알고보니 젊은 나무들에서 더 크고 탱탱한 체리들이 난다는 사실. 너무 당연한 논리지만 일단 체리나무를 처음 본 나로서는 무조건 따고 본다는 생각이 앞섰던 것.
How did cherries become such a popular treat in Michigan, one may ask. I did some digging and it was the French colonists from Normandy who brought cherry pits and planted them along the Great Lakes area in northern Michigan and eventually the midwest. In 1852, a missionary by the name Peter Dougherty planted cherry trees near Traverse City and flourished, and eventually many others followed. The industry boomed, and later the cherries were shipped to Chicago, Detroit and even Milwaukee.
There are various types of cherries, which I didn’t know, including the Montmorency, the Balaton (which was developed at Michigan State University), the Bing cherry (which is one of the most famous types and was named after a Chinese worker), the Rainier (which is the product of cross breeding of the Bing and Van) and the Lambert. The Bing, Rainier and Lambert make up more than 90 percent of the cherry production in Michigan. The Maraschino cherries which are used for cakes and sundaes originate from Yugoslavia and northern Italy where merchants added a liquor called Marasca to heighten the taste. Today, most of the cherry production is concentrated in Michigan and the northwest. So seriously, if you want cherries, head to Michigan.
미시간 지역에 체리가 제일 처음 들어온 것은 노르망디의 프랑스 개척자들, 그리고 그 후 1852년 Peter Dougherty라는 선교사가 Traverse City에 본격적으로 체리 나무를 심고나서부터라고. 체리나무가 잘 견뎌주자 주변에 있던 사람들도 너도나도 체리나무를 심기 시작, 지금은 미국내에서도 유명한 체리 지역으로 알려져 있다. 수많은 체리 종류 가운데 가장 대표적인 세가지, 빙 체리, 라니에르 체리 그리고 렘버트 체리가 대부분이다. 체리에 대한 연구도 활발해져서 새로운 종 (발라톤 체리)도 만들어낼 정도.
After about an hour and a half session of cherry picking, we got a bit worried on how we were going to store all of them since we were constantly on the road. So we stopped, paid and then headed back to Traverse City downtown to look around the cherry festival. After spending time on the cherry farm, it really didn’t seem that special, but nonetheless, you can still find everything related to cherries, including cherry t-shirts, cherry mugs, cherry pies, cherry jam and cherry liquor. There are also street markets and art and crafts markets where you can find very cuty, yet very touristic souvenirs and artworks.
체리농장 체험을 마친후 다시 Traverse City 시내로 들어가면 축제로 들어설 수 있는데 여기서는 체리와 관련된 모든 것을 경험할 수 있다. 체리는 물론, 체리 쥬스, 체리 티셔츠, 잼, 파이, 케익 등. 하루종일 체리 농장에서 체리를 따는 경험을 했다면 시시할만도 한데 보기만해도 탐스러운 체리들을 보고 있자하면 저절로 기분이 좋아지는 이상한 현상.
The cherry festival goes back to 1910, when cherry farmers in the Grand Traverse area started informal “blessing of the blossoms” ceremonies each year around May. In 1925, the city appointed the first Cherry Queen, which still happens today. The official Blessing of the Blossoms Festival began in 1925 and this was when businesses in Traverse City started to partner with the local cherry farms to promote the industry. The festival grew and now it’s one of the biggest festivals in Michigan. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover even made an appearance.
미시간의 체리 축제의 역사는 무려 1910년으로 거슬러 올라간다. 당시 체리 농장주들은 체리나무들을 위한 기념식을 비공식적으로 행하곤 했는데 의식이 점차 축제로 변해가면서 지금은 매년 6월초, 일주일동안 체리 축제를 열고 있다. 1929년에는 너무나도 인기가 많아지면서 대통령도 잠깐 방문했을 정도.
- Sunscreen. Always, but when you are cherry picking, especially because the trees are not so tall and very sparsely planted which means a lot of sunshine through those branches.
- The festival is fun, but U-pick farms are so great. But be sure to check the list on the Cherry Festivals website, print it out even and give some a call that you think are close by where you are staying or where you are coming from. You don’t have to make any reservations, but just make sure they are open when you’ll be there.
- Eat as much cherries as you can. For me.
Have you gone to any cherry/ blueberry/rasberry/blackberry/apple picking recently? If so, where?
All photos by rachelsanghee. July, 2015.