CF Kick off gathering one

Cherry Festival Kickoff celebrants issue a hearty invitation to all to join them at the 86th Emmett Cherry Festival, June 16-19. 

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As Idaho continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the entertainment industry is making a much-anticipated comeback.

Perhaps the importance of Emmett’s Cherry Festival to the community became more apparent by its absence last year. The annual event was cancelled last year in response to measures being invoked to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The economic impact of its absence was felt as estimated crowds of up to 50,000 over the week did not materialize. The emotional role that the Festival plays in uniting a community for a few days in June was sorely missed.

While elements of a COVID hangover might temper spirits a bit, the general consensus in Gem County is that when the 86th Annual Cherry Festival official kicks off next week, some sense of normalcy will have been restored.

That was the spirit enthusiastically expressed by dozens who turned out for the official Kickoff of the Festival at D & B Supply last Wednesday. The high noon gathering annually marks the start of the official advance selling of carnival wrist bands.

Of the many, many things that set the Emmett Cherry Festival apart from other events, most notable is the abundance of FREE and family-friendly.

Some of the many free activities include:

  •  No cost to enter, no admission or gate fees
  •  Free daily entertainment and nightly concerts
  •  Parade and children’s parade
  •  Free entry in to all contests
  •  And, of course, the fun is always Free For All!

Banners went up prior to the official kickoff and the surrounding cherry orchards are reporting they are fully prepared for a local crop to be part of the celebration.

Four days and nights of carnival rides, live music and entertainment and indulgent food court offerings await. The music stage will open at 2 p.m., Wednesday, June 16 with an official opening ceremony at 6 p.m. that evening.

All-day carnival ride wrist bands which sell for $45 at the festival site after noon on June 16, are available a numerous locations around town at the early bird price of $35. Look for reader boards and signs at participating businesses. The can also be obtained at the Gem County Chamber offices at 1022 S. Washington Avenue in Emmett or online at

For seasoned festival goers, there are a few changes this year. Mostly in events that are not on the primary Festival site at the Emmett City Park.

  •  There will not be a juried art show at Emmett City Hall.
  •  The annual Valley of Plenty Quilt Show will run one day only, Friday, June 18 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and will be on display at the Presbyterian Church, 212 E. 3rd St. instead of Emmett Middle School. There will also be no admission charge this year, instead a raffle of one of the quilts is being offered to assist the year-round community support efforts of the sponsoring organization.
  •  Jr. Miss Cherry Festival Pageant is being held this weekend at the Emmett Middle School. The program which engages girls of all ages in the pageant world will be Saturday, June 12 with sessions at 10 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.
  •  The Gem County Village Museum will be open Saturday only, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Look for all kinds of Festival history in addition to the many ongoing displays at the Museum complex at 501 E. 1st St.
  •  Music on the Festival Stage is being grouped loosely by genre. Classic Rock will dominate the stage on Wednesday and Country rules the festival grounds on Saturday with a wide variety of music and dance keeping everyone entertained all four afternoons and evenings.

All the traditional “cherry(sh)ed” events like pie eating, cherry pit spitting, and fireman hose competitions will be staged — free of charge to view and no entry cost to participate — on Saturday.

You may want to stake out your favorite parade watching location early. The Children’s Parade will roll down Main Street on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The grand Cherry Festival Parade will sweep down Washington Ave from Highway 16 to Main and on to the park beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

If you are coming from outside town, or from out of county, remember that Highway 16/52 will be closed for about an hour for the parade on Saturday, as will Washington and Main. With construction underway on S. Johns it is suggested to take Substation to Main if you are entering Emmett from the Treasure Valley via Highway 16.

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