As part of Cherry Days tradition, celebrate Paonia's heritage and small-town hospitality during Downtown Day. A list of participants is available at

Sponsored by the Paonia Chamber of Commerce, this year's Downtown Day happens from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, July 5. Grab lunch and stop by any of the participating businesses to sample local foods and cool treats, shop for specials, and enter drawings for gifts, gift baskets and other prizes. A complete list of participating businesses and their Downtown Day offerings is available at

"A big part of small town living is supporting small businesses," said chamber acting vice president, Debbie Kimball. This year's 34 participants is more than last year's Downtown Day due to new businesses opening up in the past year, and fewer empty storefronts.

The chamber will have a table at its office at 136 Grand Avenue. Stop by and say hello. It has trail guides, maps and lots other local information.

From noon to 1:30 p.m., enjoy original and traditional Americana-folk music by Hard Pressed in the alley between the post office and First Colorado National Bank. Hard Pressed features the multi-instrumental, multi-talented husband-and-wife duo of Cory Obert and Andrea Lecos. The two merged in the Colorado mountains to create a blend of old-time string band and Americana-folkgrass.

For more entertainment, stop by Poulos Park from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and enjoy a mix of pop and folk music by Sam Stech and entertainment by The Cowboy Corral.

A Paonia original, Stech has performed for audiences since he was 4 years old. "Singing has always been my main musical medium, with piano coming in second, and guitar third," says Stech. He has also participated in numerous musical camps, and as a music student at Paonia High School in the 2000s, participated in both Colorado All-State and regional honor choirs. He might even add a little comedy to his show.

Cowboy Corral entertains crowds with authentic cowboy songs in four-part harmony, cowboy poetry, and a little cowboy history. "We just love keeping that era of history going," said choir member Kate Friesen, aka "Trail Boss."

Cherry Days music coordinator Skip Naft said he experienced the group at the Trading Post senior lunch last winter and knew he had to book them.

The group includes about a dozen performers from the Roaring Fork Valley. Each member has adopted a persona and a cowboy name (there's Hatty Lou and Donna Sue, Sassafrass and Deputy Loo, to name a few). They began as a Christmas choir, said Trail Boss. But when they lost their director a few years back, they lost direction. While traveling the country a couple of years later, Friesen chanced upon an old book of cowboy songs and rounded up the choir in her living room, plus a couple of new members, and they gave the songs a try.

"We had a blast," she said. They practiced and practiced and soon had a gig at the Glenwood Springs Library, then at the Silt Historical Society, and the calls kept coming. Member and part-time Paonia resident Barbe Wire, aka Barbe Chambliss, suggested they perform in Paonia, said Trail Boss, and they lassoed a gig at the Trading Post.

And they don't sound too bad, neither.

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