A behind the scenes look at Miss Strawberry Days | PostIndependent.com

A behind the scenes look at Miss Strawberry Days

The 2016 Miss Strawberry Days contestants, with 2015 Miss Strawberry Days Bre L'Estrange in the center.
Kelley Cox|

Miss Strawberry Days is a scholarship competition not a beauty pageant nor is it a popularity contest. The scholarship dollars are sponsored by Bighorn Toyota and the Fashion Show by Glenwood Hot Springs. The contestants are required to submit entry forms and or resumes, secure a sponsor, and submit their biographies. All of these items are inserted in the judge’s books for review and are part of the contestants’ overall score. The fashion show is in place to help advertise our local boutiques, the themed outfits illustrate the creativity of the contestants, and the bathing suit portion is part of the history of the competition. All of these different pieces of the fashion show are also part of the judging process helping the contestants build their self-esteem, poise and showcasing their individual personalities and creativity.

At the beginning of each year the most important item on my to-do list is the upcoming Miss Strawberry Days Scholarship Contest, which is a Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association event and part of the Strawberry Days Festival. This is my favorite time of the year, and there are many moving pieces, even to this portion of Strawberry Days, and I want everything to be perfect for the incoming scholarship contestants. Everything is fresh, it is a new beginning with the New Year, and I am looking forward to getting everything in place for this year’s celebration.

The first item on my list is communicating the information to the local schools. This is done via fax and email. I also follow up with a phone call to verify the invite for the informational meeting has been received. We also advertise via radio and print for further outreach to the parents of possible interested students and on our social media outlets.

At the April informational meeting the agenda is presented to possible contestants who are in attendance. This year 25 local students attended the informational meeting. Out of the 25 that were interested 12 participants submitted applications. Following the informational meeting held at the end of April, the interested applicants have two weeks to secure a sponsor and turn in their packets, which include the entry form and or resume, biography, sponsor information and photo. We are always updating the process, so brand new for 2016, included in the program guidelines, were the updated eligibility requirements and contest rules/proceedings.

The required paperwork is submitted to the chamber during the second week of May, and the following week a chamber member photographer takes professional photos of the contestants for advertising purposes. After the photo shoot, and also new this year, we hosted a meet/greet and pizza party so the contestants could get to know each other. Bre L’Estrange, 2015 Miss Strawberry Days, was also in attendance at the pizza party to answer any questions from the 2016 contestants.

The first two weeks of June the contestants are very busy. They are contacting the retail store that was assigned to them so they could introduce themselves and schedule their fittings. They are also preparing for an entire day that is spent with the judges, and they are in the process of putting together their creative outfits for the fashion show.

During these two weeks we also have volunteer day, which is also part of the judging process. This year the contestants spent the day at Grace Healthcare of Glenwood Springs. They did interactive presentations, donated handmade gifts to the residents and beautiful flower arrangements to Grace Healthcare for all of the residents to enjoy.

The week of Strawberry Days is very busy. Tuesday the contestants spend the entire day together. They have individual and group judging; create posters for the parade and voting cans for the fashion show. They are also busy writing descriptive paragraphs of their creative outfits, which are read during the fashion show.

Thursday arrives and the excitement begins to grow. It is the day of the Fashion Show at the Glenwood Hot Springs and also the kickoff to the 2016 Strawberry Days Festival weekend. Hosted and sponsored by the Glenwood Hot Springs, its generosity also included donating the bathing suits, cover-ups, and footwear to the contestants. It also offers its space for the contestants to prepare for the show, donates makeup from the Spa of the Rockies and makes sure the contestants have dinner from the Grille before the show. Another new item we added this year, after the fashion show emcee Ron Milhorn, assisted by 2015 Miss Strawberry Days Bre L’Estrange, asked the contestants their final question rather than having this portion on Friday night at Strawberry Park. After the show their generosity also included free strawberries and ice cream for over 400 people from the community in attendance.

Friday night was the crowning at Sayre (Strawberry) Park. This year Abby Kruse was selected as Miss Strawberry Days, first runner-up was Paige Harlow, second runner-up was Katie Bianco and the contestants’ selection for Miss Congeniality was Lily Orben.

Saturday Miss Strawberry Days Scholarship sponsor Bighorn Toyota supplied Miss Strawberry Days, her court and the other contestants with vehicles for their participation in the Strawberry Days parade.

Another year has gone by, but next year is looming on the horizon with more changes that will make the Miss Strawberry Days Scholarship Contest even better.

If you are interested in acquiring a judge’s application or just want information on how to volunteer for the 2017 Miss Strawberry Days Scholarship Contest, please contact Joni Bates, IOM, vice president of membership development, at 945-1514 or joni@glenwoodchamber.com.

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