New look Strawberry Days juices up the same old vibes in return to Glenwood Springs after two-year hiatus
A new venue and a change to the parade route didn’t deter the usual throngs of people from getting out and enjoying the 125th anniversary Strawberry Days festival in Glenwood Springs over the weekend.
While there were mixed reviews about the new location at Two Rivers Park — a big change from the decades-old venue of Sayre Park in the middle of town — Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association President and CEO Angie Anderson said the vast majority of feedback was positive.
“People seemed to like that you could spread out and have more space to enjoy the event,” Anderson said as things began to wind down on the three-day festival Sunday.
“The ability for people to ride their bikes and walk here has been a huge positive,” she said. “And a lot of people felt the parade route was nice and cozy, and just felt more like a small, hometown parade.”
Instead of the traditional parade route south up Grand Avenue (which doubles as Colorado Highway 82), organizers decided to avoid the headaches of detouring a major four-lane thoroughfare and ran the parade north along the more intimate Pitkin Avenue route two blocks away.
Glenwood Springs native Walter Gallacher said he liked the change, especially since he got to watch the parade from in front of his late grandmother’s home.
“We have a lot of tradition there,” he said. “It just seemed more laid-back and more of a community affair than having it on Grand.”
As for the main festival venue at Two Rivers, “It’s nice to be by the river, and there’s more access to different parts of town,” Gallacher said.
Another longtime local, Joan Isenberg, said she wasn’t sold on the changes.
“I did not go to the parade, because I didn’t like the idea of standing on someone’s lawn on Pitkin,” she said. “I went to the park Friday night only because I was able to find a parking space.
“Lack of parking for seniors and people with disabilities was one reason I did not like the change in venue,” Isenberg said. “To me, it did not feel as inviting as Strawberry Days in ‘Strawberry Park.’”
Sayre Park has been doubly known as Strawberry Park, because of its many years hosting Strawberry Days.
“Anytime you try something new, there’s always things you learn,” Anderson said. “We’ll definitely be working through those and figuring out how to make it better next year.”
Parking is at the top of that list, but at the same time, with the ability to use the Colorado Department of Transportation lot across Devereux Road and the proximity of the city’s Seventh Street parking lot, there is more parking than people might think, she said.
“Overall, we’ve had fantastic feedback,” she said, adding vendors seemed to like the setup at Two Rivers. “People just love this space, and it’s a beautiful park. It just allows us to be more cohesive, have everything in one place and not be so divided like we were at Sayre.”
Kathie Defries lives in Silt and has been coming to Strawberry Days for years, she said. Defries was excited to hear the final band perform on the main stage, located at the Two Rivers Park ballfield, Friday night, The Martini Shot of Colorado Springs.
“I like it a lot better,” she said. “It seems like there is a lot more room. There are a lot more trees to get some shade. It’s right next to the river, so you get a little scenery.”
Cody Mahon and Natalya Helnick live in Rifle, and actually met at Strawberry Days in 2015 when Cody was working catering for Smoke Barbecue.
Helnick was enjoying a strawberry beer from Glenwood Canyon Brewpub and holding their 10-month-old son, Declan.
“It’s a lot bigger than I ever remembered,” she said.
Added Mahon, “As for the vendors, it’s very friendly. There are a lot more crafts going on.”
Sandy Lickteig of South Dakota was visiting family in Glenwood Springs and said she picked this weekend particularly because of Strawberry Days.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “The parade was awesome, and this park is beautiful.”
Likewise, Matt and Joanne Harris of Monument, Colorado, were visiting Glenwood Springs for the first time and celebrating their wedding anniversary.
“It’s interesting. … I was expecting to see a lot of strawberries,” Matt Harris said. “We enjoyed the parade, and it’s a really nice town.”
The change in venue forced the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club to change its course for their annual fundraiser event, the Kiwanis Ball Race.
But the new Devereux Trail that just opened this year on the west side of Two Rivers Park provided the perfect descent for gravity to do its thing.
“We’re really, really pleased with it,” said longtime Kiwanian Bob Littler, handing credit to event organizer, fellow Kiwanian and Glenwood Springs City Council Member Charlie Willman.
The event was formerly held on the hilly part of Hyland Park Drive east of Sayre Park.
Littler said the club sold 3,400 balls this year, and with $18,000 in sponsorships, the event was expected to raise between $23,000 and $25,000 for the club’s scholarships and community projects.
Post Independent reporter Ray K. Erku contributed to this report.
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