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Vail looks to change how it funds events

Idea is to be more ‘proactive’ in seeking events

The Bravo! Vail Music Festival isn’t going anywhere, but town of Vail officials are looking at event funding models that could de-jumble portions of the calendar.
Thomas Cohen/Vail Daily archive

Vail for years has waited for event promoters to bring ideas. With the wealth of events on the calendar, it may be time to start seeking events and taking more control of the schedule.

The Vail Commission on Special Events, formed in 2004, has provided town financial support for events including programs at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens to comedy shows, concerts and culinary events.

The idea of supporting events will remain, but town officials are changing how the commission works. The new model will include evaluating current economic conditions, and ways to better mesh with the town’s still-developing “Destination Stewardship” program, which will have sustainability as one of its cornerstones.



In a Tuesday presentation, Vail Town Manager Scott Robson said he and other town officials have spent time evaluating events promotion at other mountain resorts.

Robson said the Commission on Special Events’ initial mission was to help drive demand to the destination. But, he added, residents and others last summer complained about the town’s event model, complaining of either too many events, or events that were too big.



Robson said formal changes will be brought to the council at its Feb. 8 meeting. To give time to understand the changes, current commission members will have their terms extended to March 31, 2022.

Mayor Kim Langmaid supported the move.

“It’s a good time to look at different models,” Langmaid said.

Vail Economic Development Director Mia Vlaar said the town will continue to support its “signature” events, including the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, the Vail Dance Festival and other cultural and sporting events.

But, Vlaar added, it’s time to “evolve” the current funding model, noting that the town needs to get to the point where “we know what we want and (then) we go get it.”

Council member Kevin Foley said he’d like the town to look at just where the event funding money comes from.

Foley for some time has advocated using money from the Vail Local Marketing District for event funding. Using at least some of that money would free up town general fund money for other uses, he said.

“We’ve talked about that,” Robson said. “We want to determine the best source (of funding) moving forward.”

Robson added that this year in particular has been difficult for town departments, adding that he’d like input from the town’s police, fire and public works departments before moving forward with specific events.

James Deighan of Highline Sports and Entertainment has produced any number of events in town over the years.

“I think it’s very smart of them to be proactive in assessing events and partnering with more event professionals and seasoned event producers,“ Deighan said.

Less experienced producers often “aren’t familiar with who (Vail’s preferred) guests are,” Deighan added.

By the numbers

$2.8 million: Vail special event funding for 2022.

$220,000: Funding for early winter projects including Revely Vail, Vail Holidays and Magic of Lights sponsorships.

$158,000: Town funding for the Mountain Travel Symposium in April.


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