The Cherry Days Forever committee is gearing up for the 71st annual hometown celebration and is looking for input and volunteers.
Cherry Day itself always falls on July 4, which this year is on Tuesday. Cherry Days committee member Bob Bushta said that the schedule hasn't been finalized. The committee is encouraging the community to plan weekend activities around Cherry Days. Some events are already on the schedule, including the Cherry Days 5k walk/run, a fundraiser for the Paonia High School cross country program, on July. 1. The annual Sunday Services in the park are also planned. The Blue Sage Center for the Arts and Paonia Literary Committee are sponsoring the annual "Convergence: Words and Images of the West Elks" writing and photography contest (formerly called "Write On!"), with winners to be featured at a weekend event.
Businesses and organizations are welcome to link their events with Cherry Days. "If we know about it, we will advertise it as part of Cherry Days," said Bushta.
The committee met Jan. 24 to review member responsibilities and identified some gaps in coverage, the biggest being help with drumming up sponsorships. The committee is leaning heavily toward holding Downtown Day on Monday, July 3, said Bushta. Beginning mid-afternoon the celebration will move to Paonia Town Park, with live entertainment and activities happening until dark. Music coordinator Skip Naft said he is working to bring in quality acts from across the region.
For the first time in the five years it has coordinated the event, the committee is in good financial position and actually has a budget, said Bushta. And while Cherry Days itself will be shorter than usual due to the Fourth falling on Tuesday, the parade and park activities are on. "July fourth will be just as big as it has ever been," he said. The wood-splitting contest was popular last year and will return, and the cherry-spitting contest was a surprise success and will also return.
Class reunions are a big part of Cherry Days, and classes are already booking space in the park for the weekend and for July 4, said Bushta.
The committee has yet to come up with this year's slogan and is looking for ideas. It hopes to select the winning slogan at its next meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Energy Tech building, 218 Fourth Street. The back entry to the cafeteria will be open. Anyone interested in participating or sharing ideas is welcome.
The committee is also looking for ideas for activities and events. Anyone unable to make the meeting can send ideas through the website, www.PaoniaCherryDays.com, or email email@example.com.