The annual Blessing of the Blossoms will take place on Sunday, May 20, at 1 p.m., with Father James from St. Joseph Catholic Church presiding. Chateau Chantal will host the non-denominational service, which actually harks back to the very beginnings of the National Cherry Festival.
Complimentary cherry pie, refreshments and musical entertainment will be on hand after the half-hour service. Children are encouraged to participate with provided blossom branches as the blessing takes place for this year’s agricultural bounty on Old Mission Peninsula.
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The Blessing Ceremony and refreshments are offered free of charge to the public and do not require a WOMP (Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula) Blossom Day Event ticket.
However, should guests wish to participate in the special new release wine tasting at Chateau Chantal and the other eight Old Mission member wineries, they may purchase a “wine trail” ticket for the Saturday May 19 event at the WOMP website.
The “Blessing of the Blossoms” dates back to 1910, when the residents of the Old Mission Peninsula created the ceremony to pray for a good cherry crop. Over the years, more orchards were planted and the ceremony grew as cherries became more important to the region’s economy. In 1925, the cherry growers partnered with Traverse City merchants to create the “Blessing of the Blossoms Festival” to promote the region and the cherry business.
For a number of years, the Freidrich Tower (across from what is now Chateau Grand Traverse) was the ceremony site. Mr. Freidrich built the observation tower, dressed it with garlands, and sought to wed tourism and faith in the Blessing ceremony.
The location moved to various locations around the Peninsula, including Bowers Harbor Park. In 1928, the “Blessing of the Blossoms” was renamed the Michigan Cherry Festival, which eventually evolved into the National Cherry Festival.
A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb