Police chief says Strawberry Days ‘just not bad at all’ | PostIndependent.com

Police chief says Strawberry Days ‘just not bad at all’

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson will never admit to actually enjoying Strawberry Days. Not when he’s in charge of policing Glenwood’s big annual festival.But he’ll concede that his job has gotten easier over the years, with criminal incidents down thanks in part to changes instituted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, the festival’s organizer.Despite a high number of traffic accidents, several arrests for driving under the influence, and a few drunks being tossed out of Sayre Park Saturday, this year’s event was “overall, just not bad at all,” Wilson said.The last few years, most of the fights have been at the carnival, but this year “we didn’t have those issues at the carnival, even,” he said.He attributed the car accidents to the sheer volume of traffic. A few caused serious damage, but there was little in the way of injuries, he said.Strawberry Days was relatively peaceful despite big crowds not only Saturday night, which is typical, but also Friday night, which usually draws fewer numbers, Wilson said.But the crowds were happy ones, said Wilson. He attributes that to the Chamber’s efforts in recent years to book more laid-back musical acts during the evenings.Wilson said people “went home smiling” Friday night.”We didn’t have a lot of grumpy drinkers. I was just thrilled,” he said.Saturday’s situation was the same, reflecting the effectiveness of the Chamber’s careful selection of musical acts.”Fifteen years ago they would put a heavy metal band on a Saturday night, and I mean to tell you at 10:01, they were fighting from one end of the park to the other,” he said.”It does make a difference,” Chamber Chief Executive Officer Marianne Virgili agreed. “If you have a mellower band at closing time it’s a whole different atmosphere than if you have a hard-rock band, so we try to keep that in mind.”Wilson also cites the effectiveness of the responsible-server training the Chamber gives to those serving alcohol at the park, and the value of the private security guards the Chamber now employs to help prevent problems such as smuggling in drinks.The Chamber also has moved away from a prior policy of fencing off a separate beer garden and charging admission, which Wilson believes made people want to get their money’s worth by drinking a lot.Now, the whole ball field area at Sayre is licensed for alcohol sales, which results in less crowding and fewer altercations. Anyone who wants to drink must show identification and is given a bracelet, but the area is open to everyone. Virgili said that has allowed the Chamber to encourage people to bring their entire families to enjoy the music.Wilson said he was particularly impressed at how well the festival went, after having been nervous at the thought that several new organizers were involved with it at the Chamber this year.Virgili gives a lot of credit to Wilson and the police department for the reduced number of criminal problems in recent years. She said festival-goers have come to realize that there will be a strong police presence, and that has helped keep the peace.”He spares no expense in staff and resources to have the event staffed well, and there’s always a policeman there when we need them,” she said.Virgili said Strawberry Days “gets better every year, and this year was no exception. We’re already planning for the 110th.”Just don’t expect Wilson to be looking forward to it, even after the success of the 109th event.”I will never give up that I had fun at Strawberry Days. It’s just too against my nature. But I enjoyed the outcome of Strawberry Days,” he said.

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