City catches its breath with ‘laid-back’ festival |

City catches its breath with ‘laid-back’ festival

While it would be impossible to get an exact head count as Strawberry Days, this year’s event organizers and participants were happy with the turnout.According to early estimates by Marianne Virgili, executive director for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, crowd numbers were near or slightly below average, but enthusiasm was up.”I think people really loved the parade,” said Virgili. “Everyone seems to be having a good time. There have been no problems in the beer garden. This has been a good crowd.””So far, so good,” said Lt. Lou Vallario of the Glenwood Springs Police Department. “We haven’t had traffic problems, we haven’t had parking problems.”As of late Sunday afternoon there were no Strawberry Days-related injuries, and only about a half dozen arrests had been made, said Vallario. Those few arrests were relatively uneventful. One man was smoking marijuana in the Main Stage music area and was arrested for possession, another was asked to leave the park after he caused a nuisance and was arrested for trespassing when he returned, and another was arrested for urinating in public. “I remember years when we’ve had 40 to 50 (arrests) a day,” said Vallario. “I think everybody’s just kind of laid back and tired.”The festival follows two weeks of difficult times for Glenwood Springs and the surrounding area, including the June 8 Coal Seam Fire that burned dozens of homes and forced thousands to be evacuated; the murder of a Glenwood man last week at near Parachute.The police department’s information center, located at the Sayre Park gazebo, reported a 100 percent success rate at finding lost parents for their children. However, several lost and found items remained unclaimed.The items will be held for 90 days and are now at the police department.Food vendors generally agreed that business was good, but that it was slightly down over the past year or two. Frank Podest of Glenwood Springs, owner of the Flamingo Cafe, said Sunday that he wasn’t disappointed with the weekend’s take. “It was just a little less than last year,” he said, and last year wasn’t bad.The owners of the Country Crib, from Wichita, Kan., said business was also slightly down, and attributed the decline in their own profits to an increase in the number of food vendors.One newcomer was Greg Baroch of Littleton, owner of The Big Wiener. He’d heard from others that business was slightly down, but he was also pleased with his sales. “We want to come back,” said Baroch.While overall sales at the Artisan Fair weren’t yet available, a random sampling of vendors offered positive news. Business for Gigi Ann’s Gourmet Seasonings of Montrose was booming. “We can’t complain,” said the owner, who was busy selling packages of dip and soup mixes and jars of salsa and pickled garlic. This is the 10th year Gigi Ann’s has been at Strawberry Days.”We’ve done really well,” said Ronda Dougherty of Earthly Greens & Pottery from Prescott, Ariz. The company sells glass-fused items. “We’ve sold most of our bigger pieces.”A lady working at the Obscura jewelry booth barely had time to say “Business is good,” before tending to another customer.Photographer Celia Roberts, of Paonia, said she had a very successful Saturday, but, as expected, Sunday was a little slower. “I even made a sale after dark” on Saturday, she said. Roberts commented that the show was well-organized and offered a large selection of high-quality items. “I think the fact that the quality of work continues to get better draws more people who are interested in buying quality art,” said Roberts, who has been a Western Slope artist “for a long time.”The weather was also perfect, said Roberts, as a cool breeze swept through the long row of canopies.Shoppers also took advantage of the near-perfect weather. Mary Chavez had accompanied her boyfriend to Glenwood Springs and had planned to spend the weekend at the Hot Springs Pool while he took kayak lessons. “I was glad Strawberry Days was here,” said Chavez as she browsed through a booth. “I was just going to swim.”Wal-Mart; and the deaths of four Oregon firefighters Friday in a van accident

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