April in Glenwood: Here’s to the voters | PostIndependent.com

April in Glenwood: Here’s to the voters

The votes are in, and now we wait.

This week voting ended for the Post Independent’s Locals’ Choice contest, an annual tradition on the Western Slope where the public highlights favorite businesses, attractions and services. I know I have many on my all-time favorite lists.

Especially in the Best Brunch category.

Locals, and anyone who has lived in or visited the area, were able to visit our website and vote in these comprehensive categories: Retail; Arts and Culture; Local Recreation; Travel and Tourism; Professional and Other Services; Food and Beverages; and Local Life.

That Local Life category is a fun one.

I’ve always loved this time of year, as summer begins and Glenwood Springs prepares for its premier celebration, Strawberry Days. The oldest, continuously held civic celebration west of the Mississippi dates back to June 1898. Like present day, the Hotel Colorado and Hot Springs Pool were big draws for the growing western town once called Defiance. Visitors from all over the country, and the world, were flocking to Glenwood. Life was good, so residents decided to throw a picnic party to celebrate the strawberry harvest and welcome tourists and summer.

A Colorado tradition was born.

The PI celebrates Strawberry Days, and all those who make Glenwood such a beloved national treasure, each year with the Locals’ Choice contest. Today we offer a convenient online voting system that’s as easy as logging on to the internet and entering an email and password. Leading up to the voting window, users can choose from the usual suspects of arts, entertainment, hospitality and business past winners, along with new options. Or they can write in their own choices.

The fun then ensues in the Local Life category.

I’ve been around long enough to remember the days when we had printed ballots available around town that people actually completed by hand. With the swift advances in technology in the last decade, this seems as long ago as 1898. In reality, it was just a few years ago, in the early 2000s, when the editorial staff physically hand-counted ballots.

The process took some time, to say the least.

It has always been fun to see the excitement build within the community leading up to the announcement of the Locals’ Choice winners. I loved when the tightly-packed bundles of Locals’ Choice special sections would arrive at the PI for the Locals’ Choice party, and people would crowd around to open the first copies. The ink would be so fresh you could smell it.

I geek out over that newspaper stuff.

Now winners are announced in the initial opening hours of Strawberry Days on the Sayre Park main stage. That adds to the anticipation and makes for a fun way to launch Glenwood’s biggest party weekend. One of my favorite Western Slopers, Matte Curry, seems to always place in the Local Life category. I think one year he was even awarded in the Best Attraction group. This year, he’s up for Most Unique Local Resident, and definitely has my vote.

There’s no one else like our Matte.

There will also be winners in Local Life for Best Volunteer, Teacher, Smile, and Place to Watch People, to name a few. I choose Mountain Fair, hands-down, for the latter. I’ve never been anywhere in the world like Carbondale during the last weekend of July. Colorful fairy costumes, brave fire spinners, and barefoot dancers in the park are all par for the course. I plan to be there this year, taking part in the opening drum circle where watching the beaming smiles on people’s faces is as magical as it gets in life.

People of Mountain Fair should seriously be its own website.

I love that my favorite sight, and site, in the valley, Mount Sopris, is a choice for Best Local Attraction in the Travel and Tourism category and that the greatest little music and comedy room in the world, Steve’s Guitars in funky Carbondale, is an option for Best Live Music Venue in the Arts and Culture category.

Steve’s holds a special place in my heart as one of the first places I performed stand-up.

What I think is the best part of the annual Locals’ Choice contest, though, is that it truly highlights what makes the Roaring Fork Valley and Western Slope so special — the people. My wildly creative tattooist friend Aften Willcuts, who just made her dream of opening her own shop called White Lodge Tattoo and Gallery in downtown Glenwood come true, is up for Best Local Artist. My longtime gal pal and news colleague Kelley Cox is a choice for Best Photographer. And two of the most talented female musicians I know, Shanti Gruber and Katie Houchin, are in the running for Best Teacher.

I think it should be tie.

April E. Clark votes for the Pour House as the Best Place to Dance to a Jukebox. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.

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