Strawberry Days’ jammin’ weekend |

Strawberry Days’ jammin’ weekend

One of the most anticipated and traditional events of the Strawberry Days festival is the election of Strawberry Days queen, a young lady who presents leadership skills, community service and a host of other qualities. This year Arahana Contreras earned the honor.

When Becky Hale, one of Contreras’ coworkers at High Country Engineering, suggested Contreras run for queen, the idea daunted the recent Glenwood Springs High School graduate ” until she realized the winner received scholarship money for college.

When another coworker, Janelle Weidler, heard Contreras might enter, she searched the Internet for details on how to win beauty pageants so they could coach her. When they found little information, they resorted to the only thing that mattered ” Contreras just being herself.

“Just because we loved her so much we believed she was going to win,” said co-worker Brenda Foster. But apparently there was some pre-pageant preparation going on around the water cooler at the engineering firm in the weeks before the contest, as a former co-worker later divulged.

“You guys groomed her well,” Deric Walter said.

Contreras, whose family immigrated to Glenwood 11 years ago from Michoacan, Mexico, wants to be a teacher so that she can be a role model for others. And while the road to get an education seems to have a few obstacles as Contreras find the means to pay for school, fulfill her duties at her job and tend to family obligations, Arahana’s mother, Maria, knows her daughter will overcome any barrier. “She’s been a fighter, she will reach all of her goals,” Maria said.

Adriana Ayala, an ESL teacher at GSHS who has mentored Contreras over the years, has watched Contreras step up to the plate again and again. “Arahana has a very special call in life; it is to represent so many things.” She said.

In addition to winning the title, Contreras also won Miss Congeniality and later reflected on her triumphs. “It’s all about your person. If you have the heart and the love for people, you will get that back,” she said.

“Arahana will be a very good ambassador for our town.” Ayala said.

“Thank you for giving a Latina an opportunity to shine.”

From left, Janelle Weidler, Brenda Foster and Becky Hale.

From left, Laura Fautsko, Ben and Kelly Sarno, Mark Bauer and Amber Johnson.

From left, Annie Flynn, Audrey Bauhan and Karen and Eric Peirson.

From left, Becky Spagnolo, Tracey Yajko and Ginger Currie.

From left, Ayla Dobbs, Maria Hauskins and Sherri Martinez.

From left, Janna and Amanda Burk and Kevin May.

From left, Darla Bickel, Marcia Bickel and Katrina Gross.

From left, Kaleb Julius, Sonia Davis, Kelly Higgins and Rob Paine.

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