Vail Community Picnic returns, draws a crowd |

Vail Community Picnic returns, draws a crowd

Annual events were called off in 2020 due to COVID-19

Vail’s second community picnic this summer drew a big crowd Tuesday to Donovan Pavilion.
Scott N. Miller/

Mary Smith and Patrick Brown are two of Vail’s more recent full-time residents. They were happy to come out Tuesday for one of the town’s longtime traditions, a community picnic.

After taking a year off for the COVID-19 pandemic, the community picnics were back this year, with the summer’s second event held Tuesday at Donovan Pavilion.

A crew from the town’s public works department ran the large grills, turning out countless hot dogs, hamburgers and veggie burgers. Other town employees served residents.

Dave Johnson, left, and Tony Mondragon were among those from the Vail Public Works Department who provided countless burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers at Tuesday’s Vail community picnic.
Scott N. Miller/

There were no formal presentations, but elsewhere in the pavilion, town employees talked to residents about various town initiatives.

Out front, town senior landscape architect Gregg Barrie and Justin Hollis were busy talking about invasive weeds and how to get rid of them.

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Inside, Liz Gladitsch, the town’s economic development coordinator, helped residents put their plates, flatware, cups and cans into the right recycling bins.

In another corner, Beth Markham, the environmental sustainability coordinator, had a display featuring low-flow shower heads and other eco-friendly gadgets.

Paul Cada, the town’s wildland fire program manager, didn’t have a display, but he’s well known in town, and talked with several residents.

And throughout the room, friends, neighbors and acquaintances spent time catching up, with most saying it was nice to simply get out and mingle.

The experience was a new one for Smith and Brown. The couple has owned a place in Vail for about a decade, but moved to town full time earlier this year.

Brown said the community picnic was something neither he nor Smith had experienced in other places they’ve lived.

“We met people we hadn’t met before,” Brown said.

And, Smith added, they learned more about how the town operates, and how important seemingly simple things like the Vail Public Library’s book drop are to the community.

Brown said the picnics are “nice outreach” on the part of town, and gives residents a chance to ask questions in an informal setting.

“It’s nice to put faces with names,” Smith said.

What’s next?

The next big community event in Vail is the revival of the Vail Social community potluck, set for Sept. 24 at Solaris Plaza. For more information go to

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