While enjoying the 71st Cherry Days celebration take a break from all the festivities and take in Paonia's rich history at the North Fork Historical Society Paonia Museum. From 1-4 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, after the parade is over and the Cherry Days royalty has been crowned, the museum will host its annual ice cream social.
A long-standing Cherry Days tradition, the social includes root beer floats and provides a shady spot near the North Fork of the Gunnison River to enjoy them in. While there, meet curator Judy Livingston, a Paonia native whose grandparents arrived in Paonia by covered wagon and who loves to share her knowledge of history.
The museum is housed in two buildings. The main museum is located in the former Parks family home built in 1906 and moved to the site in 1998. Donated by the family of Kevin Parks, the house contains countless items, from dishes and everyday articles to personal possessions and locally-made artifacts. There's also a telephone switchboard from the local phone co-op, a cash register from Paonia Mercantile, and lots of photographs.
Don't leave without taking a tour of the two-room Bowie Schoolhouse. Moved from its original site in 1976, the schoolhouse still maintains its country charm and has the original desks, desks, books, black boards, fixtures and other items left in the building after the Delta County School District combined in the early 1950s. There's also a map detailing the location of all of the former one- and two-room schoolhouses -- and there were many -- in the North Fork area.
The museum is located north of downtown just before the Grand Avenue Bridge and is adjacent to Paonia River Park. The park offers more than a half-mile of walking trails, interpretative signage, and rare public access to the North Fork of the Gunnison River. The park entrance, river outlook, handicap access ramp to the river and trails were made by local metals artist Ira Houseweart.