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National Cherry Festival Brings Big Crowds and Big Business

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Big crowds means big bucks – for some local vendors the National Cherry Festival is big business. And it’s all focused on the Open Space.

For most of the last 35 years, J&S Hamburg has packed up a crew and a grill from South Airport Road and headed north to the open space. Jason McQueer says, “It’s been great so far. Probably one of the best we’ve ever had.”

The pandemic derailed everyone’s 2020. But this year, McQueer says they’re making up for lost time. “We weren’t here the last two years. Last year we didn’t have the staff. The year before it was closed. So we’re trying to get into the swing of things. And so far we’ve been making up for the downtime we had.”

As for the crowds, McQueer is thrilled with the turnout. “It’s crazy. It’s almost like nothing ever happened. People are out, spending money, and having fun,” he says. “It feels great. It is hope that things are getting back to normal.”

Whether you need hot food for lunch or dinner, or a hot coffee, the open space has you covered. It’s the first year at the festival for Kellie Cannon with Espresso Bay, which is here with its cherry coffees and even some cold brew. Kellie Cannon says being here is great for business at their downtown location too. “We’re getting the word out. Our shop is right down the road which is nice if they wanted to get some more coffee. If they want to purchase bags in our store. They can get any flavor down there we’ve got at least 20 of them.”

JenTees has been running the official National Cherry Festival souvenir tent for more than 25 years. “Oh my gosh, it’s been crazy. I tell you. The first two days we had unprecedented, record sales, which we did not anticipate. But… we were ready.” Steve Mulliner works for JenTees and is manning the souvenir tent. “Last year we had some really strong sales. Actually last year in our 26 years doing this, was our record sales year believe it or not. And this year we already blew that away in the first four days,” he says.

Here you can wear your Cherry Festival love with pride, and wear your heart on your sleeves. “I think people are just happy to be out in full force. The Cherry Festival is back 100%. Concerts, parades, everything,” Mulliner says.  “It has been a roller coaster not knowing what to expect. Our challenge is purchasing this year. Because I still have product I ordered last fall that has not come in. So we’ll just have it for next year.”

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