Glenwood Hot Springs rolls out red carpet for Miss Strawberry Days
Post Independent Intern
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Sporting the latest fashion trends from local businesses and boutiques, 12 young ladies will rock the runway while vying for the Miss Strawberry Days title and $8,000 in scholarship funds Thursday evening.
Sponsored by Bighorn Toyota, the Miss Strawberry Days fashion show will take place from 5:30-8 p.m. at Glenwood Hot Springs for the first time in nearly 30 years, with a red-carpet runway rolled out between the two pools. While the fashion show took place at Glenwood Hot Springs through the early 1980s, the event had moved to other venues in recent years.
“Miss Strawberry Days returning to Glenwood Hot Springs will be very nostalgic and fun,” said Marianne Virgili, president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. “It really pays homage to the pool, and we felt the historic aspect was very important.”
Each of the 12 contestants will model three outfits: one ensemble from a local store, one vintage swimsuit and one homemade design, representing the theme of 125 years of fashion to coincide with Glenwood Hot Springs’ 125th anniversary.
“The hot springs have been a huge part of the city for 125 years, so I think having this event here is fitting,” said Jeremy Gilley, director of sales and revenue for Glenwood Hot Springs and Spa of the Rockies. “We are a gathering place for so many locals and children of all ages, so it seems fitting to have this event return.”
After the fashion show, emcees Ron Milhorn (KMTS) and Joseph Ciborowski (Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association) will announce Miss Strawberry Days and her court.
Of the 12 contestants — from Glenwood Springs, Coal Ridge and Rifle high schools — four will receive scholarships toward continuing their education. Contenders for the awards must be 16-20 years old and plan to attend college within the next two years.
In addition to the Miss Strawberry Days title, the first-place prize includes a $3,000 scholarship, with second- and third-place finishers receiving $2,500 and $2,000, respectively. There is also a $500 Miss Congeniality award.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for young women to advance their educations,” Virgili said. “It’s really an involved competition, and it’s a very prestigious community honor as a true ambassador of Glenwood Springs.”
Miss Strawberry Days, the oldest civic festival competition west of the Mississippi, began as a beauty pageant but has evolved into a scholarship program, according to Jennifer Rose, one of the program co-chairs. Rose is also the new vehicle sales manager at Bighorn Toyota, which sponsors the full $8,000 of scholarships.
Contestants are judged on personality and the ability to connect with others and motivate a group, according to the event website. Rose said leadership skills and prior volunteer experience are also considered in the judging process.
“It’s not a popularity contest and it’s not a beauty pageant,” Rose said. “Anyone can win it, and I really have them doing so much more, with community and volunteer work.”
This year, the contestants spent three days working with the Advocate Safehouse Project through the Mother’s Day Mile event, stuffing bags, cutting and distributing roses, doing face painting and building a float for Saturday’s parade.
“After the parade, we’ll be auctioning off the playhouse that’s on the float, which the girls built,” Rose said. “All money will be donated to the Advocate Safehouse Project.”
Six local judges are involved in selecting Miss Strawberry Days and her court. While the judging process culminates with the fashion show, it began more than a month ago.
“The girls were judged at the Mother’s Day Mile for their participation, they were judged for building the float, there’s a whole day of judging with interviews, and then there is judging at the fashion show,” Rose explained.
There will be free admission to Glenwood Hot Springs to watch the fashion show and crowning via the gate on the north side of the pool, off East Sixth Street. Rose encouraged spectators to arrive early, since public voting will begin at 5 p.m. and last through 7 p.m. In the case of a tie, the public vote often serves as the final decision.
Miss Strawberry Days and her court will also be announced on the main stage at Sayre Park on Friday at 6 p.m. in addition to the presentation of the Strawberry Princesses.
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