Thank you to everyone who shared their love stories with us. We had so many wonderful responses that it was impossible to narrow the list down to just 2 winners. Instead, we selected 3 winners and 4 runners-up, all of whom will receive a Cherry Valentine's prize.
Winner #1: Karen Mangold
"My aunt and uncle live in Northport, and my whole family used to spend summer vacations enjoying the beautiful scenery and activities in the area. When we were little, it was a special treat to visit Fishtown, picnic at Good Harbor beach and stop for a Boomchunka in the Cherry Republic. Two years ago, I brought my boyfriend to my aunt's house to share with him all these favorite places. My parents were also visiting at that time, with their two dogs. Unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend spent most of the week trying to get me alone. He kept suggesting walks on the beach or hikes up the road, and my parents, aunt, uncle (and dogs) kept inviting themselves along. Finally, he suggested climbing Sleeping Bear dunes. My parents, aunt and uncle (and dogs) were disappointed, as their knees wouldn't let them climb anymore. So they dropped us off, and up we climbed. Sweaty and panting at the top of the hill, my boyfriend proposed! He had been carrying the ring in his pocket all week trying to get me away from the whole family. I was terrified of dropping the ring in the sand, so I clenched my fist the whole way back down the dunes. My family came back to pick us up, and they were thrilled (although secretly disappointed they missed it, I think). We headed back to my aunt's house for champagne and cherry snacks - and celebrated with my parents, aunt, uncle (and dogs). Thank goodness those dunes are hard to climb, as it finally gave us an alone moment, not to mention a stunning backdrop. Since then, we've made it back to Michigan each summer to climb the dunes - and of course, to load up on cherry treats from your store!"
Karen Mangold (and Zachary Cook)
Winner #2: Jared Bannister
"My wife Haley and I got engaged on 10/10/10 on the beach near Point Betsie Lighthouse during a fall camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes and the surrounding area. She had taken many vacations along the M22 with her family growing up, so it was a special place for her, and soon to be us! We decided to have the wedding at the lighthouse, and many wedding planning trips were made up north, which had to include a stop at Cherry Republic to get our fix. We traveled to Scotland for our honeymoon, and a few bags of chocolate covered cherries may have stowed away with us for the journey. Yum!
P.S. Here is a bit of photographic evidence of Cherry Republic cherries in Scotland. Unfortunately it's a wee bit blurry, like a Loch Ness Monster!
Winner #3: Libby Chapman
I think of Northern Michigan, not as a story of 2 but as a family of 6 - The love that surrounds a father to his wife and his children. David died of breast cancer in 2000 , some of his ashes were sprinkled in Houghton Lake.....Leland , the upper UP , all explored and visited through my Davids eyes with so much love we ate cherry pie , drank cherry milkshakes ,sipped wine, the nightly routine, jammies, car ride to go deer spotting into the beautiful back woods , home to vanilla ice cream with cherries on top watching the cherry colored sky on the very dock I left his ashes. We spent many summers in the North and when sadness still overtakes us we pull out our NM memories.... our motto Make memories in Northern Michigan ......the birches all silvery , the lakes , the slower pace oh to relive it w this prize
Runner-up #1: Dan Vredeveld
For many years, my family camped at Dorsey Trailer Park and have made many great memories. I believe it was the late 70's or 80's, we would go for breakfast. The Red Pine. We often had a waiter named Bob (bet you know which Bob it was). My parents, finally, bought a place at Dorsey's. I introduced my girlfriend to the beauties of the Glen Lake area. July of 1988, we were at Glen Lake with my parents, I took my girlfriend, Dee Dee, to Logan's Landing in Traverse City. There, I, gave her a ring and we became engaged. Sitting across from us were 3 nuns. They just looked at us and smiled. When we got back to the park, everyone was so excited. We were married in April 1989. Both of our children have seen the beauty and all the wonderful things to do around Glen Lake. From hunting for Petoskey Stones, anchoring off the sand bar in Little Glen or the Narrows in Big Glen, campfires, and many other memories. This April 7 will be our 25th anniversary also. We are planning on visiting the Cherry Republic soon. We are actually staying at the Cherry Tree Inn, in Traverse City, for the weekend. Kind of an early CHERRY ANNIVERSARY!
Runner-up #2: Brennan Muir
I met this girl, 2 years ago on a cruise in Florida. We instantly connected, it was love at first sight but we were too shy to admit it at the time. 4 days pass and we go our own way. I go back to Michigan and she goes to…Uruguay. Yup. The love of my life lives 6000 miles away. We talked for about a year through email, Facebook, and Skype. Then last May she sends me a note, “I’m thinking about visiting America with my family in July…Could we stop by Michigan? We hear so much about it but we’ve only been to New York and Florida.” I tell her “Sure, we can go up to Leelanau for the Cherry Festival and 4th of July.” 2 months pass and here she is. We cruised down M22, went to Fishtown and Leland July 4th parade, climbed the dunes, shot the tube on the Crystal River, and even had s'mores while watching the sunset at Good Harbor. We fit a whole 2 weeks worth of Up North lifestyle in 4 days. We even made trips to both the Traverse City and Glen Arbor Cherry Republic stores. Her and her family were amazed by the fact that everything had cherries in it. They loved the biscotti’s, sour cherry candy, and especially the turtles!
We did many things that long weekend but her overall favorite activity was taking the four-wheeler up to Sugar Loaf and just admiring the view. She said one day she’d love to have a wedding up there in the summer. After her visit, we decided to make the long distance work.
This month, she is flying all the way to Kalamazoo to celebrate our first Valentines Day together.
Marisa Cores, I love you.
Runner-Up #3: Lynne Fassbinder
Valentine's Day....Love....Cherry Republic....Northern Michigan....the memories begin! When I first read about this contest I thought oh of course I can write about this because I was married at The Homestead, the true definition of love...MARRIAGE! But then I began to really think about this word love and how it related to Cherry Republic and ahh yes Northern Michigan!! Family...Fun....Memories....That is my love and of course these took place every summer since I was a young child (yikes, now I am 40!) in Northern Michigan. I have the fondest memories of climbing the dunes, picking cherries, eating as many samples as I could at Cherry Republic, sitting on the beach the list goes on. It is now so neat to hear my two young nephews talk about these same memories as they eagerly anticipate our yearly family trip to Northern Michigan. What better way to describe love than through memories that fill not only my life, but now the youngest members of our family as well!
Runner-Up#4: Jessica Deitzer
Exactly a year and a half ago today, my boyfriend, Jon, and I started dating in Traverse City. But, if you had told me that the week before August 4th of 2012, I wouldn't have believed you.
I met Jon during an internship in Birmingham, Alabama. I was studying criminal justice and he was studying computer forensics. We were close friends during the internship and I realized I liked him a little too much but, unsure he felt the same, chose not to say anything. Stupid me, because a week before the end of the internship, he surprised me by telling me he had feelings for me. We had an amazing last week, but when he dropped me off at the airport, things were left unsettled.
I was finishing college in Pennsylvania and he lived in Ohio, and I was pretty cynical about long distance relationships. We still planned on keeping in touch and being friends, so I mentioned I was going to be visiting Northern Michigan for a few days with a few family members. As fate would have it, he was planning on visiting an old friend nearby. We decided to spend a day in Traverse City.
In Traverse City, I was floored by how gorgeous the town was. We saw the sights, went out to eat, and stopped by all the stores. Our favorite souvenirs were chocolate covered cherries and, of course, cherry wine from Cherry Republic. We were sitting on the beach by Lake Michigan, looking at the water, when I turned around and saw he had written "will you be my girlfriend?" in the sand. Corny, yes - but for once, I didn't mind. I guess the adorableness of Traverse City (not to mention the chocolate and wine) had worked its magic for our relationship, encouraging us both to take the leap we wanted to take.
Long story short, long distance worked for us, and now we both live and work in Birmingham. Happy as chocolate covered cherries! :)