Colorado Mountain College celebrates 50 years with free ‘Dancing Through the Decades’ event Sept. 8 | VailDaily.com

Colorado Mountain College celebrates 50 years with free ‘Dancing Through the Decades’ event Sept. 8

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EDWARDS — In 1967 — Colorado Mountain College's first year — among the hottest singles on Billboard's chart were "I'm a Believer," "Light My Fire" and "Soul Man."

To salute the college's 50th anniversary, CMC Vail Valley at Edwards is inviting the public to a free celebration that includes a dance party featuring music such as those hits from the '60s — and each decade since.

'Because of you'

Today from 5 to 10 p.m., community members, current students, alumni and past and present employees are invited to CMC's 50th anniversary celebration at Edwards followed by Dancing Through the Decades.

"We are having this celebration to honor those who made this college possible, as well as to thank them and all of our community members who've supported us over the years," said Kathryn Regjo, Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley vice president and campus dean. "We are all here today because of you."

The campus will open at 5 p.m. for a wine and cheese reception, with appetizer and drink stations located throughout the building for those wishing to take self-guided campus tours showcasing the Fire Bay, EMT/paramedic room, Kids' College and the science wing. Visitors are invited to stop by the ceramics studio and make your mark on a commemorative 50th anniversary community art piece that will be installed on campus at a later date.

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From 6:15 to 7:15 p.m., a 50th anniversary program will feature the history of the college, its long presence in the Vail Valley and Colorado Mountain College's future plans. The program includes a panel presentation with Rebecca Kanaly, a recent CMC alumna who received her master's degree in business administration from the University of Denver and is now the executive director of the United Way of Eagle River Valley; Doris Dewton, honorary event chairperson, former CMC Board of Trustees president, former CMC Foundation Board chair and co-founder of the HERO scholarship for CMC Vail Valley; and Randy Milhoan, an original CMC Vail Valley faculty member who was instrumental in creating the college's Summervail art workshops and eventually became director of CMC's Eagle County centers.

Signature sample dishes from iconic Vail Valley establishments will be served on the outdoor campus patio following the program, as well as anniversary cake. A bar (with mocktails for the younger-than-21 crowd) will be open during the dance, which follows the program through 10 p.m., with tunes from DJ Prodeezy.

CMC Vail Valley history

Colorado Mountain College had been established with two campuses — at Spring Valley in Glenwood Springs and in Leadville — when plans began forming to expand the college to Eagle County. Bob Becker hired Mike Snyder to organize classes in Vail, Minturn, Red Cliff and Eagle.

Artist Randy Milhoan was hired in 1969 to teach art classes in Vail and Minturn. In an interview in 2016, Milhoan explained how he showed up at the CMC office in Minturn to inquire about a job. The office was in a trailer, "in terrible shape," he said. Inside was Snyder.

"He literally had an Army surplus desk and about three folding chairs and some bookcases made of painted concrete blocks," Milhoan recalled. "The town of Vail was not very big, nor were any of the towns around here. There was practically nothing here."

Milhoan taught out of a space upstairs from the Vail Village Inn and Bar. He also worked at the bar. In 1969, Interstate 70 had not yet bisected the Vail Valley. What he saw looking out his window were cattle on Jack Olson's ranch and, beyond that, the We Ask You Inn Motel.

Among the first classes taught in Vail were ski area technology, EMT and manpower training for the Gallegos Construction Co. and Vail Associates, which operated the ski area. Later came a strong dance program, fire science technology and building trades.

"At first, it was not so hard to get people to take classes. Pretty soon practically everybody you knew in town was either a student, a faculty member or an advisory board member," Milhoan said.

The people who taught the classes were well educated and experts in their fields or interest areas, he said, "stock brokers or doctors or whatever, they were willing to teach." The synergy between students and teachers, all living in the same small towns across the district, was a secret to success for the continuing education program.

To share or read more stories of the people who've created and shaped Colorado Mountain College, visit cmcbecauseofyou.org.

If you go …

What: CMC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Dancing Through the Decades.

When: 5-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.

Where: Colorado Mountain College, 150 Miller Ranch Road, Edwards.

Cost: Free.

More information: For more information and to RSVP, visit cmcbecauseofyou.org/campus-celebrations/#vail-valley or call 970-569-2900.

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