Cherry time in North San Juan |

Cherry time in North San Juan

Photo courtesy of Kristin Snell. Residents ride decorative floats for the North San Juan Cherry Festival in 2007.

What: 114th annual North San Juan Cherry Festival

Where: downtown North San Juan

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Entry cost: Free

Summer in Nevada County would be remiss without fresh-picked produce, something North San Juan will highlight Saturday with the 114th annual Cherry Festival.

The festival will include a parade at 10 a.m. with a variety of floats, walkers and musicians playing Japanese drums, a hands-free cherry pie-eating contest and pit-spitting contest, where the person who spits the farthest will win a $25 prize from Sierra Energy.

“The parade is definitely one of the more interesting events,” said John Duff, North San Juan Activities and Improvements Center board member. “It’s just amazing who shows up with what. There are a lot of creative floats. It’s a large attraction.”

There will also be music, vendors and a prize raffle; this year’s grand prize will be a 20-yard Dumpster from Waste Management.

“It’ll be delivered with a free pickup and the tonnage is paid, all you have to do is fill it,” said Sue Bauer, board member for the center. “You could share it with neighbors and clean out your lots.”

The event is not only a platform for fun and community spirit, but also serves as a fundraiser for the North San Juan Activities and Improvements Center, which will use some of the funds to remodel the building that was constructed in the 1800s.

“We are going to have a flier up to see if the community is interested in modernizing our building, because we’re an old schoolhouse and it really needs a little bit of help,” Bauer said. “Once it gets reorganized, then we can have community meetings and a lot of things are in progress.”

The fundraiser also helps the center pay for liability, electricity and upkeep for the children’s playground and facility, which is used for various community events.

“When you’re working on our budget, our insurance just kills us,” Bauer said. “For the (activities and community center), we’re paying like $4,000-$5,000 a year.”

The festival also highlights the history of North San Juan, which was once covered in cherry trees, Duff said.

Though the number of cherry trees has diminished over time, North San Juan still has some groves with cherries that locals pick and preserve, he said.

“It seems like the locals know where all the old cherry groves are,” said board member John Duff. “They are definitely still a part of North San Juan.”

Over the years, the event has become more child friendly, Duff said, with alcohol restriction and the addition of wholesome family fun including a water balloon toss, basketball, and a horseshoe contest, along with the other events.

The Nevada City Adult Soapbox Derby is the same day as the cherry festival, but Duff hopes people will still visit and enjoy old-time family fun.

“If we could arrange for the following weekend, we could use those cars in the parade,” he suggested.

“We’d like to invite everybody up,” Bauer said. “It’s a fun day for our community and it brings everybody together.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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