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National Cherry Festival and Northwest Regional Airport Authority reach agreement on air show

UPDATE 4/15/24 5:00 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY — On Monday, the Northwest Regional Airport Authority (NRAA) and the National Cherry Festival (NCF) announced the final approval of an access agreement allowing the use of the airport during the 2024, 2025 and 2026 NCF Air Show events.

The 2024 event will include an appearance by the U.S. Navy flight demonstration team and the Blue Angels. Cherry Capital Airport will experience some disruptions to accommodate the NCF’s show line-up.


Board members from both organizations developed the necessary agreement, for final approval of the NRAA in a special meeting.

“We are proud of our partnership with countless community entities and look forward to enjoying the NCF’s Air Show this summer,” said Steve Plamondon, NRAA Board Chairman.

3/13/24 12:45 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY — There were more heated words Tuesday between the National Cherry Festival (NCF) and the Northwest Regional Airport Authority (NRAA) over the festival’s signature air show.


NCF said they will not sign a $100,000 agreement with the NRAA over the use of Cherry Capital Airport (TVC), arguing that the agreement would jeopardize future air shows.

“We will not cater to an agreement that is designed solely to profit off of our event,” said Christian Smith, NCF air show director.

That $100,000, three-year agreement would give NRAA more control over the scheduling of the air show, which they say is necessary due to the growing number of travelers and flights at TVC.

“We have changed a tremendous amount in a very short period of time, and we’re trying to reach a balance,” said Steve Plamondon, NRAA board chair. “Their airshow is probably one of the top events, and I think we have a similar story to tell.”


The airport authority responded to NCF’s refusal to sign the agreement at a meeting Tuesday afternoon. They say without an agreement, NCF will not be authorized to use the airport for their air show.

“The National Fair Cherry Festival has contacted the FAA, and the FAA has informed their executive director, Kat Paye, that they do require an agreement. Additionally, the special events policy and the federal regulations require the airport to file a ground operation plan in conjunction with Cherry Festival’s filing,” said Kevin Klein, TVC CEO.

NCF said while the NRAA runs the airport, they don’t have jurisdiction over the federal airspace the jets fly through during the show.

“The air show does not take place at the airport. The only thing that takes place at the airport are taxiing, taking off and landing. We don’t ask other transient people to sign an agreement in order to do that,” said Steve Tupper, aviation attorney for NCF.


Still, both organizations said they are still hopeful and agreement can be reached by this summer.

“I have never heard any board member or staff member say they would like to see the airshow go away. I’ve never heard that,” said Plamondon. “Have people said that we feel the airshow needs to adapt to our current mode of operation? Absolutely.”

“The 2024 National Cherry Festival air show will go on as scheduled,” said Smith.

The NRAA has said previously that they will need an agreement in place at least 60 days before the show.

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