There's nothing worse than when mom and dad fight and you're stuck in the middle of it. It's squabbling like that happening now in Traverse City between the boards that represent region's iconic National Cherry Festival and the Cherry Capital Airport.

At odds is the use of the airport for the festival's annual airshow. Currently the airshow is slated for Saturday and Sunday June 29-30 with a practice day on Friday June 28.

There appear, thanks to fantastic in-depth reporting from the Traverse Ticker, to be three sticking points. First, at the root of so many squabbles, is money. The second is airport access to commercial flights during the airshow window. Third is a new airport authority and how it works with its community partners.

Why Money and More Flights Could Derail the National Cherry Festival Airshow

The airport board has requested a fee of $86,000-106,000 for the use of the airport and airspace around it during the airshow. The Festival says they haven't paid cash but have offered 'in kind' sponsorships that equate to the value the airport is asking for.

The airport also says the volume of commercial traffic is far greater now than when the airshow first began years ago. Cherry Capital sees several flights at day both arrivals and departures during busy summer weekends.

Compare an airshow at an active commercial airport like TVC (the airport code for Cherry Capital) to other well known airshows around Michigan. The show in Battle Creek uses that city's airport which does not have scheduled commercial service. Southwest Michigan air traffic is handled nearby at the airport in Kalamazoo. Detroit area shows are at Willow Run airport while commercial traffic comes and goes uninterrupted nearby at DTW.

How an Airport Board Changes Could Threaten the Cherry Festival Airshow

Cherry Capital Airport recently came under new authority. The airport was once co-owned by Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties and sat on land owned by the city of Traverse City. The airport very recently took advantage a Michigan law that allows airports to form an authority to oversee operations.

That change arose from a decade-long odyssey that saw years of red tape for the airport to sell vacant land on its property to Costco to develop a warehouse store. Dealing with several layers of governmental authority proved to the airport directors they needed a different approach. One that, in the words of industry publication, allows TVC to be more nimble and control its own fate.

It appears the new airport owner, the Northwest Regional Airport Authority, which has been in operation since 2022 is flexing that autonomy. A quote from an NRAA board member to the TraverseTicker concerning the airshow squabble:

Have people said that the air show needs to adapt to our current mode of operation? Absolutely. We have changed a tremendous amount in a very short period of time, and we’re trying to rebalance so that both entities have (great products).

There's a desire from both parties to make it work. For the sake of the Cherry Festival, its airshow and the importance of the region, they have too much to lose to not make it work.

Both boards, however, have made a very public showcase of how the sausage is getting made and have about 100 days to figure it out before the Blue Angels and other airshow participants hit the friendly skies.

The Colorful Adventure of Finding Traverse City's Hippy Tree

Gallery Credit: TSM Mark Frankhouse

More From 100.5 FM The River