Time to dust off your lawn chairs and pack your picnic baskets. The 73rd annual Cherry Days celebration is just around the corner! Each Fourth of July since 1947, the town of Paonia swells to nearly bursting as folks prepare for the annual event which features a parade, family and class reunions, games, arts, crafts, musical performances and more. Noted as one of the longest running festivals in Colorado, Cherry Days is a celebration of fruit, family and fun.
The origin of the event can be traced back to a fundraiser held by the Lion’s Club to purchase lights for the football field. The successful event continued to grow each year as more events were added to the schedule and Cherry Day eventually became Cherry Days. One of the most cherished features was always the free bags of cherries sacked by local packing sheds. The delicious dark red Bing and Lambert cherries that Paonia is known for should be in plentiful supply this year.
The all-volunteer Cherry Days 4-Ever Committee organizes the event each year, which has long been supplemented through the annual sale of Cherry Days buttons; a tradition that can be traced to the festival's origins. A logo designed by a Paonia Middle or High School art student is chosen each year and the buttons can be found at Don’s Market, Paonia Farm and Home, Hays Drug, Dependable Lumber and Berg Harvest. The Paonia Fire Department, with the help of the PHS Volleyball Team, will make their annual button run, complete with sirens, to deliver the buttons curbside as well. This year’s theme is Small Town Living and the button was designed by Audra Niermann. Be sure to pick yours up and show your support for Cherry Days!
Many of the traditional, longtime favorite events return to the schedule and this year things kick off with a bang on the 4th. Fuel up for the day at the Paonia Volunteer Fire Department’s Pancake Breakfast at Town Hall, then grab your spot for the Parade. This year’s Grand Marshal of floats, tractors, clowns and all is Paonia’s own beloved Doctor Norman Vincent. Be sure to register your parade entry early. Forms and instructions can be found on the paoniacherrydays.com website.
Food and craft vendors open in the Town Park immediately following the parade. Opening ceremony begins on the Gazebo Stage featuring the Tuin family singing the National Anthem and the coronation of the Cherry Days Royalty to follow. Wow Factor Attractions returns this year in the football field and will feature a giant water slide. All the favorite contests begin at 1:00 including; Cherry Baking, Coal Shoveling, Wood splitting and the ever popular Cherry Pit Spit. Registration for all contests begins at 12:30 at the Cherry Days Booth. Be sure to catch Paonia Has Talent, our own local talent show on the Gazebo Stage at 5:30.
On Friday the 5th, burn off some calories first thing in the morning at the Paonia Elementary School Cherry Days 5K. The race begins at 7 am and starts and ends in Apple Valley Park. Downtown Day will also be held on Friday this year where folks can enjoy sidewalk sales and enjoy lots of free goodies at the local banks. Food and craft vendors resume in the park at 11 am and Wow Factor Attractions also returns. Sign up for the Costume Contest begins at 1 pm at the Cherry Days booth.
Be sure to grab your official Cherry Days Guide, found inside the June 26th issue of the High Country Shopper, or check out the e-Editon of the guide at HighCountryShopper.com for complete details on all events and entertainment lineups. See you at Cherry Days for some small town living!