Strawberry Days Festival
in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Strawberry Days is the oldest, continuously held civic celebration west of the Mississippi. Held annually in mid-June since 1898, Strawberry Days has grown into a week-long celebration culminating each year with a packed weekend of entertainment, artisans, a parade, and of course free strawberries and ice cream for one and all.
The festival started as a marketing effort to promote the fruit growers in the Roaring Fork and Grand River Valleys. Juicy, delicious, and prolific during the month of June, the strawberry was selected as the festival’s featured crop. Local newspapers helped spread the word far and wide, even inviting Governor Alva Adams to attend. The railroads also promoted the festival, offering special rates to local miners and their families. The highlight of the event was the serving of generous portions of homemade cake topped with strawberries and fresh cream. The tradition lives on as the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and the local Kiwanis Club dish strawberries and ice cream to thousands of festival goers each year after the parade.
In 1915, the Strawberry Day festival added another popular event, the crowning of a Strawberry Day Queen. The original event featured beauty, talent, and evening gown events. Over the years, the event has evolved into the competition known as Miss Strawberry Days. The modern event is not a beauty contest; rather young ladies compete for substantial college scholarships. Judges select the winners based on poise, personality, community involvement, and the ability to work with and motivate a group. The winner is a true ambassador for Glenwood Springs.
To give attendees, even more, to look forward to, entertainers were brought in to amuse the crowds. Military, high school, and community bands often performed, playing the favorite tunes of the day. In 1917, an entertainer known as “The Human Fly” scaled the outside of the Hotel Colorado as spectators watched breathlessly, hoping he wouldn’t fall to his death. In 1926, during the filming of The Great K & A Train Robbery actor Tom Mix was the guest of honor. In 1978, Glenwood added a 5K and 10K race known as the Strawberry Shortcut; these days there’s also a 1-mile fun run.
Explore all of the historical things to do, learn and see in Glenwood Springs with a modern twist; there is something for everyone and a new adventure to be had every day! For more Glenwood Springs history, visit the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum.