The Cherry Marketing Institute also recognized Randy Willmeng, a cherry grower from Lawton, who farms with his wife, Linda, and son, Marc, who represents the fifth generation on the family farm. Randy has owned it since 1989. Willmeng, who chairs the CMI, was named Cherry Person of the Year by the National Cherry Festival Committee.
The institute’s festival committee presented the Very Cherry Promotion Award to Jennifer Berkey, Michigan State University extension educator in Traverse City. Jerome and Maryann Kolarik won the lifetime achievement award for their many years of growing cherries in Leelanau County.
National Cherry Queen Sonya Sayler, daughter of Richard and Donna Sayler, also spoke. Age 23 and a personal fitness trainer, she’s part of the fifth generation at a Williamsburg tart cherry farm. Her older sister Angela was the 2009 National Cherry Queen.
The Cherry Queen and the Cherry Person of the Year are chosen during the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. This year’s festival will be held July 5-12.