A typical Friday during the summer here in Michigan finds many cars heading north for the weekend. On a holiday weekend, that number grows by even a bigger number.

With the start of the 4th of July holiday weekend, expect long backups on northbound US-131. They usually begin on Thursday, with people trying to get an early start. Friday afternoon traffic will be backed up from Cedar Springs all the way down to about M-6. And don't even think of hopping off the highway to take a side road. There really isn't that great of an alternative, and any other roads heading north, like M-37, will also be slow going.

If you'd like to head northward, I'd suggest leaving later in the day on Friday (after 7 pm), or getting a very early start on Saturday morning.

And you can expect traffic to be just as heavy on Monday on the southbound side as everyone returns home.

Need a reason to head north? Here are a few suggestions...

In Traverse City, the National Cherry Festival is running through Saturday, July 10th. The official website says: "The National Cherry Festival has over 150 events and activities and 85% are free for all! Kids can enjoy pit-spitting, pie-eating contests, turtle races and more without paying a penny."

You will find rides, a beer tent, concerts, classic cars, food, arts and crafts, sand sculptures and much more. Check out their list of events.

Or perhaps you want to be able to say you "went north" but don't want to venture quite that far...

The Sand Lake 4th of July Celebration is underway and runs through Sunday, July 4th. There will be rides (see a list of all the rides here). You can purchase unlimited rides wristbands for for $25. The other option for rides are single tickets for $1.25 each or a value pack of 20 tickets for $20.00. Most rides require 2-5 tickets per rider.

There will also be a Classic Car and Antique Tractor Show starting at 8 am on Saturday, a Rodeo at 7 pm on Saturday evening, a Greased Lightning Grand Parade at 1 pm on Sunday, a Demolition Derby at 6 pm on Sunday, followed by Fireworks at 10:30 pm. Here is a list of all the events.

Whatever you do this weekend, be careful around fireworks. We want everyone to still have all their body parts after the holiday. Injuries due to fireworks always increase around the 4th of July. Also, be careful with your smartphone. Reports show that the 4th of July is the worst day of the year for damages to phones. People lose them, drop them in the water, or crack the screens.

Happy 245th Birthday America! Have fun while celebrating our country's birthday!


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