As part of Cherry Days' small-town fun, there are several contests to choose from during the July 4 festivities at Town Park.
A change from prior years, contestants must register at the Cherry Days booth located under the green Lions Club shelter near the playground area.
A nod to Paonia's rich coal-mining heritage, the coal shoveling contest begins at 1 p.m. in front of the football field grandstand. Teams of two will attempt to shovel a ton of coal from one hopper to another in the shortest time. The fastest team will take home $500, with $300 going to the second place winner and $200 for third place. Proceeds support the Paonia High School athletics department. Register by 12:30 p.m. at the Cherry Days booth.
This year's costume contest theme is "Small Town Living" (think historical, Americana, July 4, red-white-blue). Participants will be called to the stage at 2:30 p.m. for judging, which will be based on the level of audience applause. The winner will receive $50 in cash, and contestants must be present to win. Judges remind contestants that this is a family event.
Register early for the wood-splitting contest, as it will be limited to the first 21 who sign up. A $10 entry fee is required. Sponsored by Todd Enterprises and open to both men and women, the contest begins at 2 p.m. near the gazebo. The top two contestants to split a log into four pieces and stack it will receive a Fiskars axe courtesy of Earth Friendly Supply Company. The split wood will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
A showcase of local baking talent. Cherry Days baking contest entries are judged on use of cherries, presentation and flavor. Deliver items in a disposable container to the Cherry Days booth by 12:30 p.m. Please, no alcohol or cannabis ingredients. New this year, winners will be announced at the Cherry Days booth at 1 p.m. Cash awards go to first through fourth place. Following judging all baked items will be sold to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cherry pit spit
This year the cherry pit spit contest is open to three age divisions. Contestants up to 10 years of age will compete for passes to the North Fork Pool; ages 11-14, and 15-adult will compete for cash prizes. Entry fee is $2 for up to 10 years, and $5 for 11-14 and 15-adult. This year's contest is sponsored by Antelope Hill Fruit Farm in Austin and will be judged by Paonia American Legion Post 97 members.