One of the biggest events of the summer in the North Fork Valley is happening this week. The 68th Paonia Cherry Days will take place on Friday and Saturday, July 4-5.
To begin the festivities visit Paonia for Downtown Day Thursday, July 3. Local businesses on Grand Avenue will have specials and refreshments for those who stop in for a visit. That night at the Paradise Theatre and back by popular demand will be Marty Durlin’s “Back in the Dreamtime” reunion musical.
There will be one more performance on Saturday, July 5, a 2 p.m. matinee. Get your tickets now.
The theme and button for the 2014 Cherry Days is “Fields of Dreams.” You can buy a button at local businesses and at Paonia Town Park on Friday and Saturday.
Now for all the Fourth of July festivities.
Friday, from 6 to 9 a.m. enjoy a pancake breakfast to start the day off right.
From 8-10 a.m. a qualifier round for the fly casting competition will be held at the Paonia Town Park football field.
People will be jamming the sidewalks along the Cherry Days parade route along Grand Avenue, Third Street, Oak and then into Paonia Town Park. The hour-long parade starts at 10 a.m.
Cherry Days entertainment, craft and food vendors open at 11 a.m. Entertainment begins with a karate demonstration at 11:30 a.m. with Sensei Rick on the Gazebo Stage.
Be at the Gazebo by 12 noon for the flag ceremony, followed by the announcement and presentation of the 2014 Cherry Days royalty. The king and queen will each receive a $1,000 scholarship.
There will be plenty of music emanating from the Gazebo Stage with room for dancing right in front. As you may know if you live here, people really like to dance in the North Fork. So it’s fitting that Sultan’s Pride Middle Eastern Dance Troupe starts things off at 12:30. Friday’s lineup of musicians includes Honey Don’t at 1 p.m., Black Timber Band at 4:30 p.m. and Isa and JoeAlan at 7 p.m.
A pie eating contest takes place during a break in the music by Honey Don’t at the Gazebo.
DJ Skip will be playing the tunes from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Starting at 2:30 p.m. at the east end of Paonia Town Park will be the second annual coal shoveling contest. Come root for and bet on your favorite teams. It’s amazing how much and how fast the coal can be shoveled. Fifty percent of the entry fees and bets will be donated to the Rotary Club of the North Fork Valley Scholarship Fund.
For amusements on both Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., “The Sky’s the Limit” at the Xtreme Zone. Advance wristband tickets are available until July 3 for $20. That is for unlimited rides all day. The wristbands can be purchased in Paonia at High Country Shopper, North Fork Bank, Dependable Lumber and Paonia Farm and Home. They are also available in Hotchkiss at North Fork Bank, Gambles Ace Hardware and in Delta at the Chamber of Commerce. The wristband on July 4-5 is $25 and will be available at the Cherry Days booth.
What’s included in the Xtreme Zone? There’s a EuroBungy which let’s you bounce 30 feet into the air. “Walk on Water” in a frictionless bubble without getting wet. “ZipIt” let’s you sail through the air on a zip line that’s 130 feet long. At the Ellen Hansen Smith Teen Center teams can play a game of laser tag with up to 12 players. And finally, there will be a mechanical bull and a rollo roper to test your rodeo skills.
The Kidz Zone will have all kinds of kid-friendly fun at the football field in the town park on July 4-5., 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. This is sponsored by the Paonia Ministerial Association. Go to their tent to purchase 50-cent tickets for the bump ’n’ jump, inflatable water slide, arts and crafts, the Kiddie Train run by North Fork Ambulance, the dunk tank, horseshoe contest (Friday only), fire truck tours and safety demonstrations (free and Friday only), a batting cage, balloon pop game and the Paonia Bicycle Club.
Saturday, July 5, from 9 to 11 a.m., there will be another qualifier round for the Fly Casting Competition at the Paonia Town Park football field. Competition finals will be at 1:30 p.m.
Music talent on Saturday includes Russ Chapman at 10:30 a.m., Mike Gwinn and the North Fork Flyers at 2 p.m., the Cabin Fever Band at 5 p.m. and closing Cherry Days out, the Starletts from 7 to 9 p.m.
In between the music will be Delicious Dance Swing with Margot Richardson and Marc Wilson at 12 noon. The Talent Show will happen from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
From 3:30 to 5 p.m. will be the first annual Woodsplitting Contest accompanied by music from DJ Skip.
Another event for the action-packed Saturday includes the Paonia Cherry Days 5k Run/Walk/Stroll at 7:30 a.m. at Apple Valley Park. Proceeds go to the Paonia High School cross country team.
Also at Apple Valley Park Friday and Saturday will be the first annual Paonia Cherry Days Tennis Tournament. Friday, singles will play from 2-5 p.m., doubles 6-8 p.m. Saturday, singles are 8-11 a.m., doubles 11 a.m.-2 p.m., singles 2-5 p.m. and mixed doubles 5-8 p.m.
If you don’t have a great time at Cherry Days, it’s because you didn’t show up. The Cherry Days Committee and Paonia community have worked very hard to make these days memorable and fun. Come and enjoy.