Fireworks unlikely at Avon’s annual Salute to the USA

The town is gearing up for a full summer of events, both old and new

As the projected fire danger rises for this summer, so does the likelihood that fireworks will be eliminated from Avon’s annual Salute to the USA.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily archive

While not official, it’s unlikely that the town of Avon will have its trademark fireworks show at its July 3 Salute to the USA event, with summer wildfire predictions looking grim.

Tuesday’s Town Council meeting kicked off with wildfire conditions update from Karl Bauer, the Eagle River Fire Protection District fire chief. Typically, the chief makes his recommendations on fireworks closer to the date of the event. However, he said on Tuesday that with the current projections for the summer, he’s “anticipating making a recommendation that you don’t proceed with fireworks given the potential danger for a fire start.”

“Given how fires have been burning across New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, which tend to be harbinger for what we will see a little bit later in the year; coupled with the prediction that June will experience above normal potential for significant fire growth, we’re concerned, we’re keeping our eye on what might actually happen in June,” Bauer said.

With that being said, Danita Dempsey, the culture, arts and special events manager for the town, said that the staff is not currently planning to include fireworks at Salute to the USA this summer.

“We are researching some small-scale activations that can easily be executed this year,” Dempsey said, adding that this list includes laser shows, water lanterns and more.

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This is not the first time the town has debated moving away from its annual pyrotechnics display. The show has been more regularly canceled in recent years, including last year, as fire danger rises each summer. As such, in October, council showed a majority support for seeking out alternative options for the annual display.

However, the final decision on fireworks is expected to be made during the town’s 2023 budget process. The town does have an existing contract with Western Enterprises to supply fireworks through summer 2023. Which, according to Dempsey means that the town’s firework product is “secure and on their shelves, so to speak.”

“They have enough in their stores that if Avon decides to do that show, we have enough to chose from,” she added.

Regardless of fireworks or not, Salute will go on. Dempsey said this year she intends to announce the headlining entertainer in the coming weeks around June 3 and would only hint that the performer “starts with the letter ‘G.'” Past headliners have included Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Ziggy Marley alongside a myriad of local bands.

The rest of summer

While Salute to the USA is the town’s largest event — drawing 8,300 attendees in 2021 without fireworks — the town is gearing up to have another busy summer of events in Avon.

The summer will see a return of some of the town’s “signature” events including its weekly concert series (SunsetLIVE and AvonLIVE) as well as a number of new events to the town.

New this summer will be the Xterra off-road triathlon circuit, which will be hosted July 16 through July 18 in Avon and Beaver Creek. In addition to the races, the event will feature a number of activities including food vendors, kids’ activities and a live show from bluegrass group Trout Steak Revival.

“Super excited about this, it’s an amazing opportunity for Avon to further showcase as a perfect venue to host athletic events,” Dempsey said.

The town is also launching a new Sunset SUP series during the Xterra event on July 15 and will host the second event in the series Aug. 19.

Returning this summer are the annual Man of the Cliff lumberjack games, Friday night movies with Lakeside Cinema, its Summers End events during Labor Day weekend, Mountain Pride’s Pride in the Park and more. Not returning, however, is Circus Colorado, which was canceled by the producer due to “rising fuel costs,” Dempsey said.

Overall, Dempsey said that the town’s mission this summer with its events is to “bring a portfolio of experiences, which provide an inclusive, creative, vibrant and community-centric calendar of events and activations.”

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