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Friday, July 3, 2015
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The Top Cherries

The Top Cherries

Only five people have been paid executive directors of the National Cherry Festival since its beginnings 89 years ago. It’s a job that comes with parades and smiles and crowds – but also with lots of logistics and high expectations. Tom Menzel, Tim Hinkley, and Trevor Tkach – the Festival’s three most recent leaders – each faced their own challenges in the position. Menzel stared down near bankruptcy and reorganized the archaic board structure; Hinkley made the organization more transparent; Tkach now looks to the future as some clamor for a more “authentic” festival experience.

The three haven’t sat down to reflect on the event’s history, future, and their own experiences until now. Given that the Cherry Fest begins tomorrow, below is an excerpt of a conversation between the three published in this week's Northern Express. The talk was cheery, candid – and even led to a few surprises. Is a parade from Cherry Festivals past coming back?

Express: Tom, you came in during a very difficult time for the Festival. Not sure the community realized how bad things were.
Menzel:
I was asked to come in and fix some things. I reported to 87 people on three different boards. So I had to go through some heavy lifting, asking people who had been in their positions for 25 or 30 years to vote themselves out. We had $547,000 in debt on a building, and a line of credit we were 60 percent into, and you need to put money out to get [music] acts. So I acted right away or there might have been bankruptcy. I don’t think there was an awareness among some about the serious financial trouble at the time. more

Today

Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

8:00am Great Lakes Equestrian Festival: Flintfields Horse Park, Williamsburg. Featuring top equestrian athletes for a first-class show jumping competition. Free. www.stadiumjumping.com more

Elk Rapids Farmers Market

8:00am Elk Rapids Farmers Market: Held every Fri. through Oct. 9 at the ER Chamber/Rotary Park. www.elkrapidschamber.org more

Red Wings’ Development Camp

8:45am Red Wings’ Development Camp: Held July 3-7 at Centre Ice Arena, TC. Admission, $5. www.centreice.org more

Junk in the Trunk Sale

9:00am Junk in the Trunk Sale: Held at Northport School. All space & table proceeds benefit The Northport Promise.

Oil Paintings by Janet Grissom

10:00am Oil Paintings by Janet Grissom: Janet’s travel & life experiences are seen in her work. Runs July 2-8. Closed Sun. Live For Art Gallery, Beulah. www.liveforartgallery.com more

Toddler Time

10:00am Toddler Time - Beach Party: Celebrate summer with some indoor sand play at the Great Lakes Children's Museum, TC. www.greatlakeskids.org more

National Cherry Festival

1:15pm National Cherry Festival: The Air Show Gala will be held today at the Top of the Park, Park Place Hotel, TC from 1:15-4pm. Enjoy a panoramic view of the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds Air Show while enjoying lunch. There will also be a free Open Ramp at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, TC to see the festival’s Air Show teams from 4:30-7:30pm; & an Old Town Classic Car Cruise from 5-8pm at Turtle Creek Casino, Williamsburg. www.cherryfestival.org more

Live Music: North Peak

5:00pm Live Music: North Peak, on the deck, TC. With Jim Hawley. www.northpeak.net more
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