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Strawberry Days are fun for fans, performers alike

Tamie Meck
Staff Writer

Sunday in Sayre Park was nearly perfect.

The 105th annual Strawberry Days continued under the bluest of skies. For the first time in days, the air was clear of smoke blowing in from forest fires in Colorado and Arizona. Even the horizon above the Flat Tops, where the Coal Seam Fire has burned for almost two weeks, was nearly void of smoke.

While music lovers waited for Jes’ Grew to rock ‘n’ roll at the Strawberry Days main stage, Jon the Juggler was already wowing a nearly packed house at the KidsFest Stage.

Performing his “trademark trick,” Jon began juggling five brightly colored balls at once. “Juggling five balls is just like juggling three, only there’s two more balls,” he told the enthusiastic crowd, which had just as many adults and children.

The balls spun round and round before him as Jon joked with the crowd. In an instant, Jon the Juggler was bouncing the same five balls off of his custom-made drum.

“Maybe if I keep going long enough, it’ll rain,” said Jon as the drum continued its rhythmic beat.

In another instant, the five balls were air-bound again and the crowd responded with oohs, ahhs and a big round of applause.

“This is my favorite part of Strawberry Days, the KidsFest,” said Ray Ciborowski of Glenwood Springs, who was enjoying the entertainment with his son, Joseph.

Ventriloquist Wayne Francis of Denver waited in the wing.

“Everything’s going great,” said Frances, who, with his family of puppets, put on a total of six performances throughout the weekend. “I really like coming to this area.”

Frances not only performs for children, but is also a comedy headliner. He performs for adults, he said, on cruise ships, at colleges and comedy clubs. He travels with 10 puppets, or “characters,” and uses characters like his big red bird and Wingnut, an aging pilot, when performing for children. For the adults, he pulls out characters like the Siamese Twins and the Guru.

This Strawberry Days crowd is “a real giving bunch of folks,” said Frances, who said he felt fortunate to be able to perform for the community so soon after the Coal Seam Fire had devastated the town. People really seem to want to laugh and relax right now, he said. “Everyone is out to have fun.”

Two locals will remember this event for years to come.

Patti Anderson of Carbondale was the winner of a Trek mountain bike that was raffled off by the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. Approximately 4,000 raffle tickets were sold for $1 each. Proceeds will go toward the renovation project of the historical building where the center is located.

Dave Parker of Carbondale was the lucky holder of raffle ticket No. 1288. That $10 ticket won the Parker family the Habitat for Humanities playhouse, which is valued at $15,000-$20,000. The two-story, custom-designed playhouse measures 10 feet square and stands 12 feet high, is carpeted, and was made possible by donations from several area businesses and individuals.

For those who didn’t win, don’t despair. Habitat for Humanity will hold three more playhouse raffles this summer, including at the Fourth of July Parade in Aspen, at the Carbondale Mountain Fair July 26-28, and at Basalt River Days Aug. 17-18.

Strawberry Days once again held on to its tradition of bringing the community together. One of the added benefits of the event is that it also provides an opportunity for local nonprofits to connect with the community.

Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE) handed out information, sold pet and other items, and accepted donations. Leslie Rockey noted that CARE is about to break the “1,000 animal mark.”

It’s only taken 26 months for those animals to have passed through the shelter, said Rockey, adding that 128 animals are currently housed at CARE.

Mostly, said Rockey, CARE wants to make people aware of the services the shelter provides and to let people know that volunteer opportunities, from socializing to cleaning, are available.

“We want to actively participate in the community,” she said.

BPOE No. 2286 volunteers were busy earning scholarship money by serving up some of the finest Italian sausage around. The 2.2-pound “rope sausage” is custom-made for the organization in Denver, and is cooked to a perfect 165 degrees by Phil Long, served on a French roll and topped with onions and peppers.

At the Center for the Arts’ Don’t Bug Me, Ma booth, local artists helped about 200 children make hand-crafted bugs. The center also sold, 50 at a time, about 1,000 ladybugs, which will benefit countless local gardens and gardeners.

That’s one way to get out into the community. Or, as center director Gayle Mortell put it, “That’s a lot of ladybugs.”


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