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Don't miss these Cherry Days activities

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Photo by Tamie Meck A dedication ceremony for the newly-completed Miners Plaza memorial walls will be held at 11:15 a.m. Thursday, immediately following the Cherry Days parade.

While much of the Cherry Days action happens at Paonia Town Park, here are a few activities to consider.

Miner's Plaza
Dedication

Immediately following the 73rd annual Cherry Days parade, head straight to Paonia Town Park for the long-awaited dedication of the Miners' Plaza Memorial Wall, scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m.

Located at the southwest entrance to Town Park, the Miner's Statue honors local coal miners who died working in the mines. The idea for the statue began after 15 coal miners were killed in an April 15, 1981, explosion at the Mid-Continent Coal Mine, officially known as Dutch Creek Mine No. 1, outside of Redstone. This disaster reminded locals of the dangers involved with coal mining and the many local miners who lost their lives. In 1981-82, a group of locals raised funds to commission a statue with sculptor Gary Prazen of Price, Utah. The statue was originally dedicated in 1983, on a rainy Memorial Day, according to local author Dave Bradford, who recently wrote a history of Paonia Town Park.

In 2017, a committee was formed to improve the area around the statue. The $25,000 project includes two memorial walls. A call for submissions resulted in the creation of 119 plaques, which were installed on the walls this week, and raised enough money to cover most of the cost, which was originally paid for by the Town of Paonia. The ceremony is a dedication of the memorial walls, and a re-dedication of the Miner's Statue. The public is urged to attend.

Chaco Reunion

It's been over 10 years since Chaco left the North Fork Valley. A plaque has been added to the new commemoration wall thanking Mark Paigen and Chaco Sandals for creating great jobs in the North Fork Valley for two decades. Former Chaco employees are invited to gather at the dedication and mark this special event.

Paonia Museum
Ice Cream Social

From 1-4 p.m. Thursday, head to the Paonia Museum for the annual Ice Cream Social.

A long-standing Cherry Days tradition, the public is invited to enjoy root beer floats and other tasty treats. While touring the museum, meet curator Judy Livingston, a Paonia native whose grandparents arrived in Paonia by covered wagon. She loves to share her knowledge of local history and the museum. Everything about the museum relates in one form or another to Paonia and the North Fork area, said Livingston.

The museum is located in two buildings -- the former Parks family home and the original two-room Bowie Schoolhouse. Donated by the family of Kevin Parks and moved to the site in 1998, the house is home to every-day items, personal possessions and locally-made artifacts, among them original telephone switchboard from the local phone co-op, a cash register from Paonia Mercantile, and many photographs.

Moved from its original site in 1976, the schoolhouse is one of a few two-room schoolhouses remaining in the area and offers a rare glimpse into early American education. It still has the original desks, books, black boards, fixtures and other items left in the building after it closed in the early 1950s during consolidation of local school districts.

Post-Cherry Days
Activities

Cherry Days ends Friday night, but a handful of related activities continue on Saturday and Sunday.

At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, head to Paonia Town Park for the annual non-denominational Church in the Park.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, enjoy corn hole and beer pong tournaments at the American Legion Wilson-Head Post 97, 40772 Lamborn Mesa Rd. The public is invited.

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North Fork
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