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Cherries, Research and Queens

August 30, 2008 | Posted by admin

Fruit, ongoing industry research and beautiful and talented cherry festival queens!

It may sound like an unusual mix – and it is. But they’re also integral to the orchard and grape growing industry here in the Grand Traverse Bay region of Northwest Michigan.

The recent annual open house at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station that Janet and I attended got me thinking about this blend of resources. Growers and processors from throughout the region were on hand for the event, which is designed to keep the industry and farming community in the know about the latest horticultural findings and research.

I have more than a passing interest in all this. As one of the station’s founders 27 years ago and its first president, our family remains supportive of the important advances in agriculture being made by the research station in association with Michigan State University. It’s because of this focus on scientific research and education that we are where we are today. And as on of my favorite sayings goes—“if you’re not the lead sled dog, the view never changes.”


The event is also one of the first attended by the National Cherry Festival queen, the seminal event that annually is held in Traverse City to showcase the industry. This year’s queen is Megan Umulis, and it will be her honor over the next year to represent the cherry industry at special events and trade shows around the country.

We’re fortunate to have a young lady like Megan represent the industry. She’s from nearby Lake Ann and literally grew up in the cherry industry. Her uncle owns cherry orchards and her mother owns her own line of cherry products that Megan has helped market at festivals and events across the Midwest. Now she has the opportunity to use her expertise for the benefit of the Cherry Festival and the industry herself.

“I get to continue promoting the cherry industry like I’ve done for the past five years, so I’m very excited,” Megan told a newspaper reporter.

We’re excited too. For Megan, the wealth of skilled orchardists and processors we have in this area, and for the horticultural research station and their study of new technology and techniques. It’s a top-shelf mix and everyone stands to benefit.

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