Glenwood Springs 125th Annual Strawberry Days experiences record-breaking attendance
Special to the Post Independent
Following a two-year, pandemic-related hiatus, the 125th annual Strawberry Days drew in more people than ever before, a Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association spokesperson said.
“Overall, this year went really well,” said Tara Harman, the GSCRA director of operations and special events. “There were some bumps and bruises as we learned the new park, but it was exciting to bring it back.”
Previously hosted at Sayre Park, Strawberry Days was moved to Two Rivers Park for the 125th anniversary, and Harman said the event could be hosted at Two Rivers in the future as well.
“Adjusting to a new park takes time,” she explained. “But one big upside was the ability to spread out. Two Rivers really gave Strawberry Days room to breathe.”
Due to public health concerns related to COVID-19, the event was not hosted in 2020 or 2021, which Harman theorized could have created pent-up demand.
Whether it was the larger space, pent-up demand or the event’s live music lineup, the result was record-breaking attendance numbers on June 18, she said.
“A lot of our volunteers came back, and we had zero issues finding people who wanted to be involved,” Harman added.
A Glenwood resident for more than 30 years, Suzanne Emery has attended numerous Strawberry Days, but 2022 was her first year working the event as a volunteer.
“Volunteering was a fun experience, and everyone seemed really excited to have it back,” Emery said. “I would certainly do it again.”
As an attendee, Emery said she was impressed with the festival’s music lineup, which included 11 bands and performers, as well as the relocation to Two Rivers Park.
“I loved the new venue — it wasn’t so dense,” she said. “People had room to spread out, there were more trees for shade, and there were more paths leading to the park for bikes and pedestrians to easily access the festivities.”
For Glenwood Springs Police Department Lt. John Hassell and his fellow officers, the more spacious haunt created some challenges, but the event ran smoothly regardless.
“We had some shortcomings when it came to parking, but we’ll learn from this and apply those lessons in the future,” Hassell said. “From the law enforcement perspective, we saw what appeared to be larger numbers of people in attendance, but there was more room for people, which was a real bonus.”
GSPD conducted zero arrests at the park during the event, he added.
The Chamber also reported that parking created a new set of obstacles.
“Actually having a parking lot to offer was one of the biggest hurdles,” Harman explained. “Everyone wanted to park at Two Rivers, but there just wasn’t enough space for our vendors, performers and attendees.”
Instead, event staff encouraged people to park downtown and hoof it to the festival, utilizing pedestrian footbridges crossing the Colorado River and various walkways around the downtown core.
While Two Rivers Park boasts its own bandshell, Harman said the organizers brought in a mobile main stage to accommodate some of the larger performances. In turn, this freed the bandshell for other activities, such as Legacy Dance Company’s dance performance, Garfield County Libraries’ storytime and High Noon Tai Chi with John Norton.
“Despite the few hiccups we encountered along the way,” Harman said, “we’re really happy with how the festival played out this year, and we’re looking forward to applying the lessons learned this year to the many years to come.”
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