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Cherry Days is celebration of community

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If you hear sirens in Paonia Wednesday night, it's likely the Paonia Volunteer Fire Department urging you to come out and buy your official Cherry Days buttons. Buttons are $2 each, three for $5, and donations are graciously accepted.

One of the oldest continuously-running annual outdoor festivals in the state, the 71st annual Cherry Days has something for everyone. The celebration officially happens July 3 and 4, starting with Downtown Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. Enjoy food, live music and share your community spirit with friends and neighbors.

The traditional July 4 parade begins at 10 a.m. and runs along Grand Avenue from First Street, east on Third Street and north on Rio Grande Avenue to Town Park. Registrations will be accepted up until the parade.

Beginning at 11 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, more than 30 food and non-food vendors will offer a plethora of activities, tasty treats and arts and crafts at Town Park. The recently-dedicated Howard Berkman memorial stage will feature live local and regional musical entertainment.

For kids and the young at heart, there's face painting, games and contests. On July 3 and 4, WOW Factor Attractions will offer the Castle Maze, Rattle Balls, WOW Bubbles Lagoon, and Knocker Balls, and a new attraction, the Parachute Rocket Ride (see a video at paoniacherrydays.com). A change from past years, rather than sell wrist bands in advance, tickets will be sold at the event.

On July 4, let the Paonia Volunteer Fire Department serve you breakfast. PVFD members will offer a feast of pancakes, sausage and more from 6-9 a.m. at Paonia Town Hall, 214 Grand Avenue. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children, and benefits the PVFD. All donations are gratefully accepted.

There's still time to get involved, says Cherry Days Committee president Bob Bushta. Volunteers are needed to man the Cherry Days booth and help with recycling efforts, man the Beer & Wine Garden (must be 21 or older), and to help decorate the park. Simply fill out a volunteer form at www.PaoniaCherryDays.com/volunteers.html and they'll find a good fit for your talents.

While bringing alcohol to the park is forbidden, the Beer & Wine Garden will offer a large selection of locally-produced alcoholic beverages, with all proceeds benefiting Cherry Days.

The Cherry Pit Spitting Contest returns for its third year. This popular contest happens at 1 p.m., and features prizes. The best pit spitters will hold bragging rights until next year.

The wood splitting contest also returns this year. Men and women have a chance to split the most wood in a set amount of time. Prizes are awarded, and the split wood will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The contest starts at 1:30 p.m.

Paonia Cherry Days is a celebration not only of the cherry, but of Paonia's agricultural and coal mining history and heritage, its hearty citizens, the arts and music, local businesses, and the many organizations that keep the town thriving. Starting Friday with classical music at the Blue Sage Center for the Arts, the weekend's long list of events includes the Cherry Days 5k run, the book sale at the Paonia Library, live music, an all day Family Day in the Park, the 12th annual Bulls 'n' Broncs competition at the North Fork Horse Patrol, followed by a dance at the American Legion, and softball and mud volleyball tournaments with big cash payouts.

There's a lot to take in during Cherry Days. We've provided details of many of the events in today's paper, but we couldn't capture every detail needed to describe the five days of activities and festivities. If you can't find it here, the official Cherry Days website, PaoniaCherryDays.com, and the Paonia Cherry Days Facebook page can provide more details.

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North Fork
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