Inside the Chamber column: Getting ready for a Strawberry Days homecoming
“One of your primary responsibilities will be Strawberry Days.”
I heard these words when I applied for the VP of Special Events Coordinator position with the Glenwood Springs Chamber. And I tell you with humble admission, I only heard the words. I wasn’t listening to the words. My first day on the job, I finally listened. And while processing my new role and responsibilities, “What have you done? You’re in too deep,” may have flashed through my mind. (OK, definitely flash-flooded my mind).
Now, 18 days from go-time, I’m waist deep in all that is Strawberry Days and learning that it’s not as easy as even my initial panic prepared me for. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some “oh, no problem” moments, but also several “you’ve got to be kidding me” moments. For those of you who may not have tackled such a task, here’s a heads up, planning a parade is not a walk in the park.
One of my initial tasks, and possibly one of the most daunting, was determining this year’s theme. During the process, I recalled the words of my husband, a long-time local. “Strawberry Days is just one big high school reunion,” he said. “Everyone comes home for Strawberry Days.” It seemed fitting, therefore, to make this year’s festival a celebration of what it means to come home — to family, to friends, to Glenwood.
As I’ve planned, liaised, and delegated over the past several months, I’ve learned not only about the festival’s history, but also about this amazing community. This town is home to individuals so generous with their time and their talent, people that care so deeply for the city in which they live, that I am in awe. This city has passion. I’m Italian, I would know.
Glenwood Springs has faced many changes and challenges over the years. But every time, as a community, as a team, we find ways to face the challenge together and find a solution. Yes, the city is growing and evolving, but no matter what, you can always feel the love. You can feel the spirit. This sense of family is one of the many reasons why we live in Glenwood Springs, and why so many come home to Glenwood Springs, to stay or to visit.
Strawberry Days is the highlight of Glenwood Springs’ year because it gives us a chance to really revel in and show off all that is unparalleled about our home. It is more than turkey legs and funnel cakes, more than beautiful art and great music, more even than pancakes and a parade. It’s a showcase of our talents and camaraderie and an opportunity for generations of Glenwoodites to come together, catch up, and celebrate.
Not least of these amazing locals that make this community, and our Strawberry Days, the unique and wonderful experiences that they are, the women of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association have been an incredible team for me to be a part of this past year. The mental flash flood of that first day soon subsided as I was welcomed by their support, knowledge and encouragement. Now as I face this fully formed festival, I feel overwhelmingly grateful to them and to this town.
So, Glenwood Springs, no matter where you reside today, dig through those dust-covered boxes. Throw on that vintage high school T-shirt. Message your old classmates. Tell your family it’s time to come home. Paint your windows. Sport the black, red and white, and show us how much Glenwood spirit you have.
The festival opens at Sayre (Strawberry) Park at noon Friday, June 21. Arts, crafts, food, drinks, parade, live music … you know the drill. So come home and share some memories, make some new ones while you’re at it. And please, if you see Terry Wilson, give that man a high-five. Just because.
Tara Harman is vice president of special events and programs for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
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A Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins mashup will host its grand opening at 700 Taugenbaugh Blvd. in Rifle on Friday morning. The opening will begin at around 11 a.m.