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Glenwood Springs Forgoes 6th Strawberry Days Celebration in 123 Years

Strawberry Days 2020

In a “normal” year, this upcoming weekend would have drawn crowds from near and far for "the oldest continuously held civic celebration west of the Mississippi." KDNK's Raleigh Burleigh has this report on Strawberry Days 2020...

A weekend of music, artisan vendors and games, the crowning tradition of Strawberry Days is the serving of ice cream and cake topped with strawberries. This, among many other facets, has been logistically challenged by the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. Strawberry Days began in 1898 to showcase fruit grown in the Roaring Fork and Grand River Valleys. The festival has subsequently featured entertainers like The Human Fly, scaling the Hotel Colorado in 1917, and actor Tom Mix who was a guest of honor during filming for The Great K & A Train Robbery in 1926.


It was announced on April 10, 2020, by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association that this year's festival would be skipped over to prioritize the health and safety of the community. An article in the Post Independent elaborates that key decisions regarding vendors, contracts and sponsorship are made months in advance. To delay those decisions beyond April with the uncertainty of a global pandemic was deemed impractical.


In the festival's 123 years, this marks the sixth cancellation according to The Frontier Historical Society. Notably, the Spanish influenza epidemic swept through the area from late 1918 through early 1919, apparently leaving the summer celebration unaffected. Five consecutive years were foregone from 1942 through 1946 due first to a reported shortage of cake, ice cream and good entertainment and then World War II. The festival was revived in 1947, accumulating new traditions like The Strawberry Shortcut, a 5k and 10k race, beginning in 1978. The Shortcut now includes a 1-mile fun run and benefits Special Olympics Colorado.


The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association expressed hopes to plan "some kind of community gathering later in the summer or fall."

Raleigh Burleigh was raised in the historic floodplanes of Satank. The Carbondale Rotary Club sponsored him as a youth ambassador to Chile the year before his graduation from Roaring Fork High School. He studied International Affairs and Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder then applied those studies traveling throughout South America the following year. Returning to Carbondale thereafter, Raleigh acquired an internship with KDNK News which led to the opportunity to serve as News Director from 2017 to 2019. After another trip to South America in early 2019, Raleigh Burleigh drew deeper into the confluence as Program Director at KDNK. Raleigh now serves on KDNK's board of directors and as editor of Carbondale's weekly newspaper, The Sopris Sun.
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