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Strawberry Days better than ever

From all accounts, this year’s Strawberry Days is shaping up to be one of the most successful festivals that Glenwood Springs has ever seen.Friday night’s concert, which is arguably when the festival really starts to heat up, was “the best Friday night ever in the history of Strawberry Days,” said organizer Vicky Daulton.”The park was wall to wall with people,” Daulton said. And best of all, she said, “there were no fights, no problems.”Things went so well that Police Chief Terry Wilson even allowed the event to run a little long.And if Friday evening was a success, then Saturday morning was perhaps a raging blowout, for following quickly on the heels of the “best Friday night ever” came possibly the best Strawberry Days parade ever.”We decided to make this parade the biggest one ever,” said Ken Murphy, the Strawberry Days parade chairman. “We had 87 different groups participate in the parade.”Murphy was also the one who came up with the idea to get a military helicopter from the National Guard High-Altitude Training Center in Eagle to do a fly-by during the parade, an event which left parade watchers amazed and delighted.”We went for the wow factor, and I think we got it,” Murphy said with obvious satisfaction.”The fly-over was really cool,” Daulton agreed.Jim and Mary Nelson, the honorary Grand Marshals of Strawberry Days, certainly enjoyed it. Though the couple, who’ve been married no less than 43 years, moved to Tucson recently, they returned for Strawberry Days. As Grand Marshals, they even enjoyed a ride in a convertible down Grand Avenue during Saturday’s parade.”They called us up and asked if we wanted to be the Grand Marshals, and we thought, what a hoot. And it’s been great fun,” Mary Nelson said.”We’ve seen roughly a third of all the Strawberry festivals,” Jim Nelson said. This year marks the Nelson’s 30th Strawberry Days, and they say it just keeps getting better.Over the years, though, the thing that the Nelsons say really characterizes the festival is “a sense of community.”The way the Nelsons see it, the simple fact that the festival is run by volunteers speaks volumes about the nature of the weekend.”If it wasn’t for the volunteers, nothing would get done,” said Jim Nelson. In other words, Strawberry Days is created by the people, for the people.If anyone should know, it’s Jim Nelson. He’s written no less than two separate books on the history of the Roaring Fork Valley. And Strawberry Days, said Jim, was originally “an attempt to engender interest in the crop” of local strawberry farmers.Today, no strawberry farms are left in the valley, but the tradition they began lives on every summer. And its place in the hearts of Glenwood Springs residents was perhaps best summed up by Daulton.”I’m having a blast,” she said.


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