Strawberry Days set for June 20-22
GLENWOOD SPRINGS , Colorado As Marianne Virgili put it, Its an event that people look forward to all over the country.When it comes to small-town festivals, words like those are usually a bit of hyperbole. But with Strawberry Days, that just isnt so.Now in its 111th year, the June event will bring together 50,000 people, Virgili estimated. What began as a celebration of the local berry harvest has become a huge to-do, spanning three summer days. Virgili listed off its many features, from food booths to a carnival, from a parade to an art fair. As chief executive officer at the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, shes been involved in Strawberry Days for more than 20 years. And she still sounded excited about it.The community loves it, she said.She called it a homecoming event for the area. Its the kind of thing people plan their vacations and family reunions around, she said. She mentioned the recent addition of a classic car show and spoke of the music and magic acts that will appear. Like the ice cream social held on the second day, admission, activities and entertainment is all free. According to Virgili, those home-spun, inclusive elements help keep Strawberry Days great reputation.
With a fondness in her voice, she mentioned events of years past. For her, the best moments were watching her children, now grown, take part in the parade and learn how to count change selling hot dogs. Attendees in the 1980s might remember octogenarian Adolph Diemoz, she said. He staged a re-creation of the Pony Express route and delivered letters from Rifle to Glenwood by horse. One time, recounted Virgili, she helped recreate the K & A Train Robbery when actors stole from knowing train passengers, chugging their way through Glenwood. Then there were those more solemn days, when the festival fell right after the Coal Seam Fire, which had ravaged Glenwoods hills. By coincidence, the citys fire and police officials were heading the parade that year. People showed up in appreciative droves.This is just an event where you get to interact with your community, Virgili explained.With its Alice in Wonderland theme, she seemed sure that this year will continue to improve upon a good thing. With every new festival, she said, little changes are made to enhance it. She insisted, however, she would never touch the soul of the celebration. Of course she could help bring in some bigger entertainment or charge an admission fee. But why? Like her, attendees have always seemed to enjoy the communal party just the way it is.Theres element of charm and authenticity to it, she concluded. And people are really looking for that these days.Perhaps folks were searching for it back in 1897, too.
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