Home, sweet home for Strawberry Days

Anna Gauldin
Post Independent Intern
From left, Tristin Harlin, Drake Harcourt and Hailey Young dive into the Village Inn pie-eating contest at the FamilyFest stage Saturday afternoon during the 116th annual Strawberry Days.
Christopher Mullen / Post Independent |

Every summer, somewhere around 40,000 people crowd Glenwood Springs for Strawberry Days. With a standard population closer to 10,000, this is a bit of an influx.

There is more food, more music, more people — more everything. The town is bustling, and there are more than a few unfamiliar faces.

But even amongst the massive crowd, the community that is Glenwood Springs emerges in full force. I run into my teachers from elementary, middle and high school, spending time with their families or volunteering in the festival.

Locals open their yards to parade spectators, and small children skirt around floats to snatch sugary treats. A little boy toddles down the sidewalk, wearing a full fireman costume.

Neighbors, friends and classmates stroll down Grand Avenue in silly outfits, and families line the sidewalks. Fluffy dogs accompany their owners around Sayre Park, panting in the shade of the artists’ tents.

Plus, there are funnel cakes.

The best parts of Glenwood Springs surface during Strawberry Days. The Green Strawberries team composts and recycles the bulk the festival’s scraps, and the arts and crafts show supports more than 100 artists and craftsmen.

The Miss Strawberry Days competition commends character and leadership abilities, providing scholarships for college. Little girls are celebrated as princesses, with each one given her moment on the stage.

Local musicians are applauded in the Glenwood Idol competition, and local bands perform on the main stage. Locals’ Choice awards are announced. Even with the crowd, it’s a local celebration.

Vendors sell cheesy bacon fries and alligator on a stick and all sorts of things only Strawberry Days can provide the excuse for eating.

Because funnel cakes weren’t enough, they added the elephant ear, which is effectively eight funnel cakes condensed into a single, circular, rather dense mound of dough and powdered sugar. I’d recommend one per five people.

While we’re on the topic of food, there’s also Pie Day. It’s hard to top pie in any circumstance, but when it’s sold to support the Valley View Hospital Auxiliary, it’s even better.

I have lived in Glenwood Springs for more than half my life, and Strawberry Days has been an annual favorite. After spending the bulk of the last two years attending college in Denver, however, returning for this year’s festival was even sweeter.

Upon my return, some of Glenwood Springs’ smaller treasures also became more noticeable.

People wave in Glenwood Springs.

This isn’t something I ever thought I’d take for granted. After living in a large city, though, a friendly wave is about as good as it gets in the driving world. Here, there’s no honking, no swerving, no angry gestures. Those things are limited, at least. Compared to city life, Glenwood Springs is a haven of waves and smiles and signaling the pedestrian to go ahead.

People also know each other in Glenwood Springs.

In the city, venturing more than a mile from campus left me surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Since coming home for the summer, though, it’s hard to think of a local venue where I haven’t encountered an acquaintance, whether it was the grocery store or the bank.

And, lastly, people live and grow with the traditions of Glenwood Springs.

Even though I’m too old now to crouch on the sidewalk and chase down candy (Note: There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a piece on the sly when no one is looking), the allure of Strawberry Days remains strong.

Glenwood Springs will always be my home, sweet home, and Strawberry Days will always be a part of that. Maybe those extra 30,000 people are just wishing they lived here, too.

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