Longtime vendors give Strawberry Days a special flavor | PostIndependent.com

Longtime vendors give Strawberry Days a special flavor

Jack Reyering


Main Stage

Noon to 3 p.m. 101st Army Rock Band

3:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Ashley Red

7 to 10 p.m.: Brothers Keeper featuring Jono Mason and John Popper

FamilyFest Stage

11 to 11:45 a.m.: Chad Juros Show

Noon to 12:45 p.m.: Strawberry Princess Celebration

1 to 1:45 p.m.: Chad Juros Show

2 to 3 p.m.: The Low Flying Knobs

3 to 3:45 p.m.: The Jammin Jim Show

4 to 4:45 p.m.: Emma Marie

5 to 5:45 p.m.: Chad Juros Show

Community Events

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Colors of Colorado Quilt Show at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1630 Grand Ave.

10 a.m. to noon: Strawberry Days Parade on Grand Avenue, Eighth Street to South Hyland Park Drive

After the parade until supplies run out: Free strawberries and ice cream at Sayre Park


Main Stage

9 to 10 a.m.: The Dance Companies from the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts

10 to 10:45 a.m.: Earthbeat Children’s Choir

11 a.m. to noon: The Low Flying Knobs

Noon to 1:30 p.m.: The Logan Brothers

1:30 to 2 p.m.: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folkloriko

2 to 2:30 p.m.: Salsa dance lesson with Ricardo and Tere Hernendez

2:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Quemando Salsa

FamilyFest Stage

10 to 11 a.m.: Family yoga class

11 to 11:45 a.m.: Chad Juros Show

Noon to 1 p.m.: Kids’ obstacle course

1 to 1:45 p.m.: Chad Juros Show

2 to 2:45 p.m.: The Jammin Jim Show

3 to 3:45 p.m.: Chad Juros Show

Community Events

7, 8:15 and 9:30 a.m.: Annual Strawberry Shortcut 5K, 10K and 1-Mile Fun Run starts at Centennial Park, Ninth and Grand

7 to 11 a.m.: Annual Rotary Pancake Breakfast at the FirstBank Food Fair, Sayre Park softball field

2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Kiwanis Ball Race, North Hyland Park Drive and Blake Avenue

Strawberry Days is back, and those stopping by Sayre Park will recognize many of the same attractions that have been a staple of the festival year after year.

Although the festival is a yearly stop for many residents of Roaring Fork Valley, a handful of vendors have been regulars at Strawberry Days for decades.

They include Mr. Lemonade, Sam Klempke’s Caricatures and Vern’s Train. Each of these vendors has a unique and storied history of June weekends spent in Glenwood Springs.

Glendon Johnson, also known as Mr. Lemonade, first came to Strawberry Days as a vendor in 1987. Johnson has been providing patrons with his lemonade every year since.

“I have pictures of me at Strawberry Days in ’87 with my 1967 VW van,” Johnson said.

Spend a few minutes talking to this man and you’ll learn he has an exceptional passion for his sweet and sour signature lemonade. You’ll hear endless original lemonade quips like: “This ain’t Kool-Aid from a pack, try it once and you’ll be back,” or “I got the mixins’, you bring the fixins’.”

Johnson has served his lemonade in every corner of the country and beyond, from Las Vegas to St. Thomas and all the way up to Lobster Fest in Maine.

He does 13 to 14 events a year, but Strawberry Days is one of Johnson’s absolute favorite.

“I’m welcomed every year with open arms,” Johnson said. “The weather is great and this is the greatest place in Colorado, and Colorado is the greatest place on Earth.”

Although Johnson has been coming to Strawberry Days for 29 years, he is not the most tenured vendor.


Sam Klempke’s first Strawberry Days was in 1984. At the time, the caricature artist was living in Glenwood.

“I walked up to the booth and said, ‘I’m a caricaturist, I’d like to work here.’ She said, ‘OK! Give me $50 and you can set up over there.’ And that was it,” Klempke explained.

He has come back every year since because of his love for Glenwood and Strawberry Days.

“I love the area,” Klempke said. “I have old friends here, I get to lay by the pool and there is a lot of money here.”

Although he was a Glenwood resident for his first Strawberry Days, for the past 20 years, he has made the 1,100-mile journey from Eugene, Oregon, to Glenwood in his white Ford van.

“This is the Womb on Wheels,” Klempke explained as he walks around the van. “She has almost half a million miles on her.”

In addition to being a caricaturist, Klempke is a filmmaker. He has documented his personal travels across the country in his van. Using the lifetime of personal film he has shot, he has made a documentary about his travels with the help of an Australian filmmaker.

“It’s called ‘Sam Klempke’s Time Machine,’” Klempke said, “It’s on Youtube and Netflix. You know, now I have a new level of fame at age 59. It’s mostly my own footage but it’s juxtapositioned with footage from the NASA’s Voyager mission.”

During Strawberry Days, Klempke expects to do somewhere in the area of 150 caricatures over the weekend, but that doesn’t even touch the workload of one very iconic Strawberry Days vendor.


Vern Degroot shakes his head and says, “I have no idea,” explaining how many rides he’ll give over the course of the weekend.

Degroot is from Littleton. He and his miniature train have been entertaining patrons of Strawberry Days for 21 years. He loves coming back to Glenwood because of the familiarity the town and Strawberry Days present.

“The people here are the most friendly people,” Degroot said. “I always feel welcome here since I’ve been coming here for so long. There is an amount of recognition.”

After 21 years of coming with his train, Degroot says he loves hearing stories of kids who used to ride his train now taking their own kids to the festival for a ride.

“I hear a lot of stair-stepping stories,” Degroot said.

These three vendors have a combined 80 years of Strawberry Days experience and have become staples of the weekend for families who stop in. Klempke’s caricature stand will be one of the last remaining open as the festival winds down.

“As long as the festival is open, I am,” Klempke says. “I’m always the last stand open.”

With any luck, Klempke’s stand will be the last one to close for many Strawberry Days to come.

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