Strawberry days celebrates hot springs anniversary |

Strawberry days celebrates hot springs anniversary

Anna Gauldin
Post Independent Intern

Every summer since 1898, Glenwood Springs locals and visitors have crowded Sayre “Strawberry” Park for the annual Strawberry Days Festival, the oldest continuously held festival west of the Mississippi.

In addition to the standard events and activities, this weekend’s celebration, themed “Celebrating 125 years of Glenwood Hot Springs,” will also include several new proceedings, as well as the return of fan favorites from the past.

As always, Strawberry Days will feature a Saturday-morning parade, food vendors, an arts and craft show, an old-fashioned carnival and the Strawberry Shortcut race series. The main stage at Sayre Park will provide a full entertainment lineup, and the FamilyFest area will be bustling with kid-friendly activities all weekend.

Friday morning, another tradition continues with the annual Valley View Hospital Auxiliary Pie Day, lasting from 9 a.m.–noon at First United Methodist Church.

“My goal is always to have a free community festival that’s safe and fun,” said Marianne Virgili, president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. “A lot of people come together to make it happen, and they really go above and beyond.”

Continuing the tradition, the crowning of Miss Strawberry Days and her court will take place Thursday evening, with four local students receiving scholarships towards their college educations. For the first time in nearly 30 years, the fashion show and crowning will take place at Glenwood Hot Springs, where the pageant was hosted through the early 1980s.

Also, for the third year in a row, the Strawberry Princess celebration will honor girls ages 5 to 11, featuring more than 60 local girls on the main stage Friday night and in the parade Saturday morning.

“Girls need to realize they can accomplish great things in their lives, that they’re special and unique,” said Lorie Beattie Courier, the event organizer. “They need to find their own unique talents.”

In an effort to improve the festival even further, this year’s craft show will feature 128 booths of exclusively handmade products, representing a large number of Colorado artists.

“There is something for everyone at every moment of the weekend,” Courier said. “My goal would be that the locals would take advantage of the incredible offering of Strawberry Days. It’s one of those celebrations that really is for the community.”

This year’s main stage entertainment lineup will incorporate five bands from the first-ever Strawberry Days Battle of the Bands competition, sponsored by Radio CMC.

More than 25 local bands submitted short videos in an online contest, after which a panel of judges selected seven finalists. Over 16,000 people then participated in the selection process by voting on the Strawberry Days Facebook page to narrow the field to five.

Another new event is the Fun, Fab and Far-Out Swimsuit Contest, which will take place Sunday afternoon at Sayre Park and features creative and vintage swimwear fashion. Open to all ages, the contest is judged by former Strawberry Days Queens. Courier encouraged family-friendly swimsuits.

“I’m hoping there are kids as young as 1 or 2 in wild or crazy things, like snorkels or flippers, and I’m hoping we have people in their 90s,” Courier said. “Vintage swimsuits are also really encouraged. People need to be creative and have fun with it. The wildest and the wackiest will be the winners.”

Commemorating the 125th anniversary of Glenwood Hot Springs, FamilyFest will also include a “grand celebration” on Saturday afternoon, according to Courier.

“Woodie and the Longboards, a California surfer band, is coming in Saturday afternoon,” Courier said. “We’ll have a hula-hoop contest, a limbo contest and beach volleyball. There will be a lot of different activities for everybody to be involved with.”

Back by popular demand, the 2013 festival will also celebrate the return of several favorites, including Glenwood Idol and Strawberry Days T-shirts. After auditions on June 17, 10 idol winners were selected to perform on the FamilyFest Stage this Saturday, in addition to a main-stage performance from the first-place finisher Saturday night.

This year also marks the return of Strawberry Days T-shirts, designed by local artist Linda Drake and celebrating Glenwood Hot Springs’ 125th anniversary. A limited number of shirts will be available for sale at the festival, or they can be ordered by calling the chamber at 970-945-6589.

“We had eliminated shirts the last couple of years but decided to offer a limited edition printing of shirts this year,” Virgili said. “It was really in deference to former volunteers who said they missed the shirts.”

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