VAIL — In 1972, six different Vail families opened up their kitchens and welcomed supporters of the Vail Country Day School in for a tour and a home-cooked snack.
The fundraiser, originally dubbed the kitchen tour, grew into an annual event over the years that showcased some of the valley’s most spectacular homes. Funds went toward the Vail Mountain School — as the K-12 school is called today — scholarship assistance fund, and the event drew local as well as statewide visitors and grew to include a lunch and auction.
However, it seems the tour has outgrown itself, requiring more planning, accommodating bigger crowds and encroaching on students’ ever-busier schedules, and this fall, school representatives said they have discontinued the VMS Home Tour.
“We found that it grew and it grew, and over the years had become a fabulous event,” said James Mill, of the Vail Mountain School. “Last year we found that the timing and demand it put on volunteers and students wasn’t timed-well at the beginning of school. The school board decided that last year was the final year of school tour.”
Currently, there is nothing planned to directly replace the fall event, but school officials assure that retiring the Home Tour won’t affect the school’s tuition assistance. The school declined to comment on how much the fundraiser raised in its final year.
“The Home Tour is one of the many things that fund the scholarship fund — it’s not the only source,” said Mill. “The absence of the Home Tour will absolutely not affect our commitment to financial assistance.”
A look back
The first kitchens that made up the Home Tour belonged to some of Vail’s pioneers and most well known families — families whose names can still be found on many of the streets and buildings throughout the town. It became a uniquely Vail kind of event.
“What happened is that folks went house to house and toured the kitchen. In each one you had some samples of something to eat,” Mill said. “Vail was just getting started and it was a look at how people lived in the valley.”
Of course, everyone also wanted to peek around the corner and check out the rest of the unique home as well, and eventually the kitchen tour expanded to include the rest of the house. As the valley grew, the tour also went on to include homes from up and down corridor, not just in Vail.
A look forward
This school year, Vail Mountain School does plan to continue the annual raffle, a component of the Home Tour that dated back to the school’s earliest days. This year, the prizes include 20 items donated by local businesses and families that range from a week-long vacation to Mexico to works of art. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased by calling the school or from any VMS student.
The school will also continue to host its annual holiday gala and auction, a fundraiser that supports the school’s general fund. The 38th annual event will be held on Nov. 2, and tickets will go on sale later in the fall.
“Historically, before there was robust snowmaking and there was truly nothing going on in the off-season, this provided an opportunity for locals to get together and get dressed up,” Mill said. “What’s exciting is that now in its 38th year, we’re reinventing the gala.”
Traditionally, the event has been held at the school, with a classic sit-down dinner and auction. This year, the gala moves to the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch with an international theme. Loosely staged as a “trip around the world,” attendees will roam from station to station, snacking on food and browsing auction items.
“We’re excited about the new format and new idea. It brings some new energy to a wonderful tradition,” said Mill.