VAIL, Colorado - The ski season might be winding down in the coming weeks, but happenings around town are only getting better.
The final three weeks of the ski season aren't a time to settle down and reminisce. With three world class events closing out winter, the party seems like it's just beginning.
This weekend, guests and local residents are enjoying a jam-packed weekend of movie-watching. The Vail Film Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with films being shown in theaters from the Vail Mountain School to the Four Seasons.
Next weekend, the Taste of Vail's 23rd year kicks off with the signature Lamb Cook Off and Apres Ski Tasting. Local chefs create imaginative dishes featuring the star ingredient, lamb, and wineries also set up throughout the village for tastings.
The Mountaintop Picnic is another signature festival event in which chefs and wineries set up shop at the top of Vail Mountain, near Eagle's Nest, for a tasting at 10,350 feet. Special wine dinners and educational seminars round out the weekend, which culminates with the Grand Tasting on Saturday night at the Vail Marriott.
And for closing weekend, Spring Back to Vail has become the annual end-of-season celebration featuring free concerts and the World Pond Skimming Championships. The year's concerts include O.A.R., Jimmy Cliff and Sublime with Rome.
For plenty of Vail visitors, these events are a big reason for why they come to Vail. Movie buffs follow film festivals, foodies flock to food events and concert goers love free shows. But at the core of it all, skiers and snowboarders who come to Vail in the winter come to Vail because of the mountains.
"Snow or no snow is the deciding factor always," commented Julia Denault Parker on the Vail Daily's Facebook page.
And those who market our local events recognize that, which is why events this time of year are meant to attract folks who might already be attracted to Vail. Providing fun events is the extra something that could help someone choose Vail over another ski destination.
The town of Vail's Commission on Special Events is tasked with finding the right events to fill out the calendar throughout the year. They look at economic impacts and also try to pick events that can help drive business during a time of year that might otherwise be slow.
"The CSE places a strong emphasis on bringing events to Vail at key times of the year to boost revenue for hotels, restaurants and businesses. Not every event has an impact on each business but the overall effect for the town is incredible," said Jenn Bruno, a CSE board member. "Our spring events have become a reason for people to visit Vail and they appeal to a wide range of visitors. ... Without these key events there would be a noticeable difference in how many people are visiting Vail in April. These events make us a more desirable destination."
Spring skiing conditions aren't keeping people away right now, but springtime can be hit or miss. Sometimes temperatures are just warm enough to soften the snow, other times spring feels more like the dead of winter, and sometimes spring can even feel like summer.
With recent snow and warm daytime temperatures, skiers and riders are enjoying the mountain already.
"It's the best snow of the season right now," said Mike Maher.
CSE board member Bobby Bank said providing events just gives people so many more options.
"They enhance the guest experience," Bank said. "Some of our events are definitely during busy times - we want the experience to be the greatest it can be in Vail. And so when these events are on what were formerly slower weeks, we want to create more of a reason to be here."
Bank points out that Vail's events are constantly evolving. The Taste of Vail, for example, has new leadership and should have a different feel to it this year.
"They've rebranded," Bank said. "They put a lot of effort in working with the restaurant community to make it bigger and better."
That's part of the reason Vail's event-filled weekends, such as the final three of the ski season, have become so well known and continue to bring business to town.
"You got to keep moving or you die," Bank said.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.