Vail Symposium to bring Colorado’s ranching history to life

Everything Vail Valley staff report

The Vail Valley Art Guild has curated an art exhibit of 150 paintings and 90 photos capturing the ranches of Eagle County. The Vail Symposium program will include speakers as well as a reception following the program.
Rick Spitzer | Special to the EVV


What: An Evening of Colorado Ranching — History and Art

When: Monday, Sept. 9; Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; program from 6 to 7:30 p.m.; art exhibit and reception following the program

Where: Colorado Mountain College, Edwards

Cost: Tickets are $25 prior to midnight on the day before the program; $35 after midnight and at the door.

More information: Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

Colorado’s ranching history has been captured in many different art forms, from sculpture to song. However, perhaps one of the most captivating forms is through painting and photographs — after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

On Monday, Sept. 9, Vail Symposium will present a program at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards about this hard-working aspect of the valley’s past.

In conjunction with the Vail Valley Art Guild, which has curated an art exhibit of 150 paintings and 90 photos which captures the ranches of Eagle County, the program will combine both historical and personal accounts of ranching’s impact on the community. Presenting on Colorado history will be Colorado Historian’s council member and professor at Western State University Duane Vandenbusche. He will be joined by Colorado Mountain College instructor Evan Weatherbie, who will provide insight on Eagle County ranching history. Finally, former Eagle County rancher Dan Williams will provide a personal perspective.

“Take a look around the valley and you’ll see how our ranching not only shaped our past, but also impacts our present and future,” said Claire Noble, program manager for the Vail Symposium. “We’re excited to work with the Vail Valley Art Guild on this program to both illustrate and discuss this rich history.”

After the program, the exhibit of photographs and paintings by local artists of the ranches of Eagle County will open. More than 100 pieces of art will be on display throughout the CMC campus and many of the artists will be in attendance to discuss their work.

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About the speakers

Professor of history Duane Vandenbusche is currently the longest-serving active professor at any public higher education institution in Colorado. His tenure at Western Colorado University began in 1962 at the age of 25. Vandenbusche teaches on the history of the U.S. West, especially water, public lands and the environment, and his history of Colorado’s Western Slope, “A Land Alone,” has been the standard text on the region since its publication in 1981. Also a legendary running coach, Vandenbusche turned the Mountaineers cross-country and track and field programs into national powerhouses from 1971 to 2007. He is the author of 11 books, including: “The Gunnison Country,” “Around Monarch Pass,” and “Lake City” (in progress, April 2019). In 2018, History Colorado named Vandenbusche to the Colorado Historian’s Council.

Professor Evan Weatherbie grew up riding horses and chasing cows in northeastern Colorado on a small cattle operation in Morgan County. His family worked on a farm and ranch of about 600 acres until a nearby natural gas company lost control pressure monitoring systems and the landscape was left strewn with massive holes, unnatural geysers and gas leaks. After high school, Weatherbie left the farm for a dorm room in the big city of Washington D.C. Weatherbie received a dual degree in international affairs and Japanese language in 2002 and landed a teaching job in Japan in 2004. After teaching in both Japan and India, Weatherbie returned to the United States to formally pursue an education degree and teaching career, which eventually brought him to Colorado Mountain College in Edwards in 2010. Weatherbie is currently doing research on transmountain water diversion from the Eagle River tributaries to municipalities on the eastern slope: the Homestake Project.

Dan Williams is an Eagle County native who began his adult life raising sheep and cattle. In 1976, though, he turned his attention toward public service and became an Eagle County Commissioner. After two four-year terms, he was elected to the Colorado State House and served four more two-year terms. In 1993, he founded the government relations consulting business, Williams+Simpson. His clients include Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Woolgrowers Association, Colorado Horse Council and many other agricultural- and infrastructure-related organizations. Whether as an elected official or lobbyist, for more than 40 years Williams has been an advocate for agriculture in Colorado.

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