Strawberry Days kindles sweet memories for Glenwood Springs volunteer
June 18, 2013
Lorie Beattie Courier's life is filled with memories of Strawberry Days.
As a young girl, she rode her bike and marched with the band in the Strawberry Days parade. Years later, she competed in the Miss Strawberry Days pageant, claiming the title of Strawberry Queen in 1966. A couple of decades after that, she marched down Grand Avenue with other local teachers, performing a lawn chair routine.
"We got a little behind, so we ended up having to run the parade route, and there we were trying to do our little routine," Courier said with a laugh. "One person actually passed out at the end, because we had to run the whole way."
Today, Courier serves as the FamilyFest coordinator and main stage announcer for Strawberry Days, working with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association to incorporate family fun into the annual festival.
"We want to have lots of wonderful, fun, educational opportunities for families," Courier said of FamilyFest. "We have a bubble machine, which is brand new, stilts, clowns, balloons and face painters. There are all kinds of interactive things for kids."
In addition to spearheading the FamilyFest efforts, Courier also added several new items to the festival agenda when she began helping out in 2011. Both the Strawberry Princess celebration and Glenwood Idol can be credited to Courier and are now entering their third year.
"The princess celebration is really near and dear to my heart," Courier explained. "After all the years of teaching, I saw so many little girls with poor self-esteem. I just want to honor girls and women for who they are. Each girl is very special and precious and deserves to be listened to."
This year's festival will also include two more of Courier's creative ideas: the first-ever Fun, Fab and Far-Out Swimsuit Contest, a family-friendly event to be held Sunday afternoon, and a collection of booths for local nonprofits to increase their community exposure.
"She has the connections in the community," said Marianne Virgili, president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. "She's an entertainer, she knows how to put on productions, and she's a great organizer. Lorie has really expanded FamilyFest to give families and kids their own area."
Extending beyond Strawberry Days, Courier has always maintained an active role in the Glenwood Springs community, beginning when her family moved to the valley in 1953. Her father, Lyle Beattie, served as the mayor of Glenwood Springs in the 1960s, while her mother taught piano and performed in local churches.
After graduating from Glenwood Springs High School and then the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in musical education, Courier began teaching in Jefferson County but soon returned home, eventually teaching music at every public school in Glenwood Springs.
"It was my passion and my heart," Courier said of her 36-year teaching career. "I have always believed that music can change people's lives. To do what you love and get paid for it is just the most incredible gift. Kids need teachers who love them, and I have been so blessed to be a teacher of music."
In addition to her teaching career, Courier has also served as the director of a number of local choirs and singing groups. She was named the L.S. Wood teacher of the year in 2005 and recently received the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association's 2013 ATHENA Award, which recognizes individuals excelling in community service, professional excellence and assisting women in realizing their full potential.
"One of my favorite sayings is, 'Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away,'" Courier said. "One of those moments was when I received the ATHENA Award. I was just so overcome with emotion and gratitude. It was such an honor."
After 60 years in the valley, Courier and her husband, John, are now preparing to move to Erie, shortly after Strawberry Days in order to be closer to their children and grandchildren. John, who taught elementary physical education for 32 years, is also involved in behind-the-scenes work surrounding Strawberry Days.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't laugh about it and cry about it," Courier said of leaving Glenwood Springs. "Glenwood has really been my heart, and it is such an honor to have shared in the lives of so many people."