Glenwood Springs ripe for Strawberry Days |

Glenwood Springs ripe for Strawberry Days

It takes more than a fire to keep people from celebrating Strawberry Days.

From the Grand Avenue Bridge to Sayre Park, thousands of residents and visitors alike lined Grand Avenue to watch the 105th annual Strawberry Days Parade Saturday morning.

With 80 entries, the parade was one of the biggest ever. Hundreds lined up in “Strawberry Park” for free strawberries and ice cream, a tradition that was begun with the first Strawberry Days. Cups of the tasty treat were also handed out downtown at Centennial Park.

Throughout Saturday, the Artisan Fair was packed with shoppers and lookers.

At the parade staging area early Saturday, horses pranced about in front of the Garfield County Courthouse as anxious riders held their reins. Band director Rob Merritt prepared his 30 young musicians, mostly middle school students, to march in the parade to the song “Wipe Out.” Cheerleaders quietly practiced cheers and routines.

Eye-catching Miss Strawberry Days contestants stood proudly by the equally eye-catching cars that would carry them the length of the parade route, like the sleek, peach-colored 1957 Thunderbird that Bethlehem Starr rode in.

“You’ll see some cars today that you’ll never see all year,” said Bob Young, a car lover and the president of Alpine Banks. Three of Young’s own cars were featured in the festivities.

No doubt about it, classic cars were a big attraction in this year’s parade.

Ashley Elshoff, of New Castle, stood proudly before a 1931 Model T. Elshoff, Miss Colorado Junior Teen, rode in the parade alongside her grandfather, Alden Elshoff, who brought the car over Friday night from Longmont. His granddaughter beamed with pride as she stood before the classic auto he rebuilt.

“I’ve been in so many parades,” said Elshoff, wearing a formal gown and sash and running down a list of parades, including the Colorado State Fair, Longmont Fair and Burning Mountain Days parade, which she’d appeared in since earning her title.

State Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, and crew rode in state Rep. Gregg Rippy’s 1947 International, rebuilt by Paul Jacobsen, of Glenwood Springs, and driven by Doug Straw.

A Kiwanis Keewee Car, built by Massings, is a pint-sized vehicle that looks an awful lot like a 1910 Overland, built by the Overland Company. Garfield County Commissioner John Martin accompanied this little dandy in the parade.

The St. Stephen’s School crew rode on a trailer towed by a 1942, barn-red Avery Wards Twin-Row tractor. And the boys driving for Casey Concrete of Rifle and Carbondale looked sharp behind the wheels of the company’s dandelion yellow 1946 Dodge tanker and Dodge concrete mixer.

The crew riding with Tresi Houpt, candidate for Garfield County Commissioner, looked sharp on a 1940 Ford fire truck, owned by Sean and Greg Jeung and driven by Jim Hawkins.

Greg recently purchased the truck after seeing it advertised in “Fire Apparatus Magazine,” said Sean. It still has the original 500-foot fire hose and can carry up to 1,000 gallons of water.

But the red beauty sputtered to a stop three blocks into the parade, and the Democrats hoofed it up Grand Avenue with their campaign booty.

At Strawberry Park, more than 180 gallons of ice cream and just 25 pounds short of a half ton of strawberries were served to festival-goers by Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club volunteers after the parade.

“Some come through twice,” said Bill Livingston. “We don’t discourage seconds.”

As the day heated up, people sought shade under trees and among the booths of the Artisan Fair.

At the Glenwood Springs Chamber booth, people browsed through the many silent auction items donated by participating artisans.

“It generates interest for the booths and raises money for (Miss Strawberry Days) scholarships,” said Raelyn Westley, membership development director for the chamber. The auction will close at 3 p.m. today.

Not just anyone can set up a booth at Strawberry Days. This year’s 150 artisans were selected from more than 400 applicants, and chosen based on quality, creativity and originality.

Paul Peng, owner of Lily’s Bonsai, came all the way from Los Angeles to attend Strawberry Days.

“I have a lot of returning customers,” said Peng, who specializes in bonsai and bamboo plants.

Bonsai are beautiful, and with proper care will last many years, and perhaps many generations, said Peng, who has been growing them for 30 years. They require sun, but not too much, fresh air, water every two days, and fertilizer every three months.

While shopping abounds, many young fair-goers head for the carnival.

Travis Redd, of Old Snowmass, paid $5 for three shots at winning his girlfriend, Cat Leonaitis, a stuffed bear. All he had to do was knock three wooden blocks off their platform by throwing a baseball at them. After three unsuccessful tries, the booth operator gave Leonaitis one of the smaller bears. “I didn’t know you had to knock them off,” said Redd, “I thought you just had to knock them over.”

Then there’s the rides. Red-faced tykes screamed as the “Sooper Jet” went round and round on its track.

As a small crowd dizzily emerged from the “Gravitron,” a popular ride that demonstrates the power of centrifugal force on the human body, Tracy Rodgers, of Glenwood Springs, shook her head and squinted into the sunlight.

“Never again,” said the 30-something Rodgers to her husband.

While she didn’t care for the spinning motion, she did admit, pulling her cheeks tight, that the ride provided a good face lift.

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