120th annual Strawberry Days begins today | PostIndependent.com

120th annual Strawberry Days begins today

Carla Jean Whitley

If you go

120th Strawberry Days

Friday through Sunday: Music from Freddy Jones Band, Let Them Roar, Scones-Kinder Band, Gora Gora Orkestrar, The Goonies, La Fiebre del Sabor and Conjunto Revelacion. This weekend-long festival includes a number of events: FamilyFest children’s area; a Saturday-morning parade; arts and crafts booths; food; Strawberry Days Carnival at Glenwood Springs Mall; Miss Strawberry Days Fashion Show; Strawberry Shortcut Race; Rotary Pancake Breakfast; Kiwanis Ball Race; and more. Find a complete schedule on the event website, strawberrydays.com.

Strawberry Days historic highlights

1927: Chicago gangster Diamond Jack Alterie proclaimed himself grand marshal of the year’s Strawberry Day Parade. His proclamation produced apprehension by possible parade participants. Chairman Carl Fulghum, in an effort to boost participation, placed official notice that Diamond Jack would not lead the parade.

1930: The first Strawberry Day held since the 1929 Stock Market Crash. Attendance was down, with the cause placed on poor weather prior to the festival; streets in Glenwood Springs being torn up in preparation for paving; and, due to the drought, farmers using the time to make their best use of irrigation water.

1932: Boxing and wrestling events were added to the Strawberry Days entertainment offerings.

1937: Rodeo and movie star Montie Montana, with “Rex the Wonder Horse,” performed at the Strawberry Day Rodeo.

1942: The inability to obtain good entertainment, in conjunction with a shortage of ice cream and cake, forced the cancellation of Strawberry Day. Because of World War II, Strawberry Day was also canceled through 1946, with other forms of celebration, such as a Soap Box Derby competition, taking its place.

1947: Billed as “The Best in History,” Strawberry Day resumed. The queen contest was revived, with a bathing suit competition added. The winner of the queen contest received a new Bulova watch for her efforts.

1950: Approximately 3,500 people were served strawberries, cake and ice cream at Strawberry Day. The scheduled fireman’s water races on Grand Avenue were postponed due to a grass fire breaking out along the railroad tracks behind the Silver Spruce Motor Lodge. Firemen extinguished the blaze and returned to compete in the races held on Grand Avenue.

1951: Glenwood’s 49th annual Strawberry Day closed with a power boat race on the Colorado River near Hanging Lake. Billed as a leisurely family outing, it was estimated that 680 automobiles carrying 3,500 spectators lined the Glenwood Canyon highway during the event.

— Compiled by the Frontier Historical Society (now Glenwood Springs Historical Society) for the June 15, 2006, edition of the Post Independent.

“Colorado can claim the palm for the inauguration of a new class of annual fete or festival days,” the Glenwood Post reported in June 1898.

Communities throughout the state had introduced celebrations of local produce: Grand Junction’s Peach Day, Rocky Ford’s Melon Day, Loveland’s Corn Roast. Glenwood Springs within days held its first Strawberry Days.

“[Glenwood’s] natural attractions are as varied as they are delightful and the visitor to this place is always loth to depart. Our natural advantages, together with the delicious feast of strawberries and cream, render attendance upon Strawberry Day doubly desirable,” the Post reported.

The 120th annual Strawberry Days kicks off today.

“When I started at the chamber, it was a much smaller festival,” said Glenwood Chamber Resort Association President Marianne Virgili, who has worked at the organization for 30 years.

“But the essence of Strawberry Days hasn’t changed at all,” she said. “So many people come back for this event. The feeling of community, it’s a big homecoming. There’s a lot of community pride.”

The event includes a number of beloved features, such as concerts and Saturday’s parade. After the latter, visitors can enjoy free ice cream and strawberries at Sayre Park.

The event is well defined after 120 years, but organizers always look for opportunities to refine.

“Every year we learn something and improve it,” said chamber Executive Vice President Angie Anderson.

Some of those improvements are subtle, things only vendors are likely to notice. Each year, organizers seek feedback from those vendors so the subsequent year can be better still. One obvious addition is a cool zone on the basketball court. It will give attendees a place to battle the heat while mingling with sponsors — some of whom will offer prizes and giveaways.

Saturday’s parade will start at Ninth Street and Grand Avenue, rather than at Eighth Street, to avoid bridge construction. That’s a temporary change, Anderson said.

The 120th event will also see the return of fresh strawberries. That’s thanks to grocery store sponsor Safeway, whose management felt strongly that fresh fruit should replace frozen in the post-parade snack. It’s been years since that’s been the case, Virgili said, because strawberries are no longer grown locally.

The fun kicks off at noon today and continues through 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Find a complete schedule at strawberrydays.com, and follow the Post Independent on social media for coverage throughout the weekend.

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