Strawberry Days craft show to feature exclusively handmade products |

Strawberry Days craft show to feature exclusively handmade products

Local artist Linda Drake developed this year's Strawberry Days design.
Staff Photo |

For the past 115 years, Glenwood Springs locals and visitors alike have gathered for traditional Strawberry Days festivities, ranging from the old-fashioned parade to free strawberries and ice cream. One of the main attractions continues to be the Fine Art and Craft Show, where vendors fill Sayre “Strawberry” Park with more than 100 booths.

In an effort to improve the quality of the show, this year’s arts and crafts show will feature exclusively handmade products, with roughly 70 percent of the vendors coming from Colorado.

“We survey our artists every year, and they suggested upgrading the show by becoming more strict in our selection process to ensure handmade products,” said Marianne Virgili, president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. “I think it will be a big improvement and that the variety of the merchandise will be exceptional.”

Shortly after the completion of the 2012 Strawberry Days Festival, the chamber hired Noreen Guglielmo of Creative Crafters’ Showcase to organize this year’s event, implementing a stricter screening process for vendors.

With 14 years as an artist and 18 years as a promoter under her belt, Guglielmo boasts an extensive network of artists and artisans nationwide. Because of this, she was able to incorporate artists and vendors she already knew, which Virgili noted as a major benefit.

According to Guglielmo, artists were required to fill out an application and include photographs of their products in order to validate their handmade nature.

“If we’re unsure, we ask for pictures of them creating the products, of their shops or of the raw materials,” said Guglielmo.

Even among artisans creating handmade products, the competition remained stiff, as Guglielmo focused on incorporating a variety of art and craft forms into the show. Products range from jewelry and pottery to paintings and specialty foods.

The authenticity of the show will also be enhanced by Guglielmo’s requirement that the artists work their own booths.

“It’s great to support an artist and their work,” said Guglielmo. “It’s not mass-produced, so you know you’re buying an original piece of artwork. No two are alike.”

Local T-shirt design

In addition to the vendors’ booths, the chamber will also be selling a limited number of Strawberry Days T-shirts, designed by local artist Linda Drake of Lunar Designs.

“I’m really excited about the shirts,” said Drake, whose design celebrates the Glenwood Hot Springs’ 125th anniversary. “Marianne Virgili saw my booth last year and wanted me to do the design for this year. I love that the chamber picked a local artist to do their design, and I am hoping this starts a new tradition for the event.”

Drake, who has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for more than 20 years, will have a booth at the art show for the third year in a row, selling aprons, kitchen towels, tote bags and other items featuring her own “fun and giggly designs,” as she described them.

Previously a consistent attendee of the arts and crafts show, Drake said she lost interest in recent years due to the mass-produced or imported products that were sneaking into the selection. However, with this year’s “facelift,” as she called it, her excitement is renewed.

“I used to love going and strolling around the booths, and I had quit going because it had changed so much,” she explained. “I’m really hoping this year will just blow people away because it will be such a nice collection of high-quality arts and crafts.”

Similar to Drake, Virgili said she is excited to see how this year’s show turns out.

“Our main goal is to preserve the integrity of the festival,” said Virgili. “I think it will increase the prestige of the show.”

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