Cherries! But no Cherry Park Festival

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Just about this time of the year, we’d be looking forward to the Cherry Festival at Kitchener’s Cherry Park. The festival, now about a decade old, has been cancelled for 2020, of course.

That’s sad: it had been one of those events that flies quietly under the radar, perhaps, but which is emblematic of the terrific neighbourhood initiatives that characterize the city and the region. And the fruit.

The Cherry Festival has included live entertainment, mini-golf, rock climbing, a poetry slam, Irish dancing and more.

When it comes to food, the festival usually has featured some barbecue vendors as well as lots of fresh cherries, cherry pies, tarts, cherry strudel as well as pop and ice cream.

Tender fruit … careful picking

As for cherries themselves, this tender and delicate fruit is available only for a short time in Ontario mostly through the months of June and July and needs to be picked carefully.

Luscious and sweet — with a bit of tart (Photo/

A characteristic of cherries is that they don’t improve after they are picked from the tree, so they must be harvested when they are ready-to-eat ripe – and that, therefore, makes them very fragile and very tasty.

Ready-to-eat ripe

Two primary types, sweet and sour, cherries likely originated in Asia thousands of years ago and are grown throughout the world, despite their fragility and the difficulty in keeping them at their optimum best.

When buying cherries at the grocery store or market, look for firmness and a bright colour. When you get them home, wash them and make sure they are dry before storing them in your refrigerator. There is some belief that this chilling process in fact improves the cherry flavour.

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