Early Vail residents invited to Pioneer Weekend
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – What could be more fun than a bunch of old-timers getting together to discuss Vail’s good ol’ days?
For the third time, one of those so-called old-timers, Packy Walker, is helping to organize the event. Anyone who lived and worked in Vail between 1962-1980 is invited. The event is scheduled for Sept. 21-23 and Walker hopes to get everyone signed up and registered by the end of April.
The weekend includes a memorial service for late pioneers, dinner and dancing on Saturday night at Dobson Ice Arena, live music, a lunch at Eagle’s Nest and other social gatherings. Tickets are $75.
The first Pioneer Weekend was in 2002 and drew in 1,200 people, Walker said, and that inaugural event was open to folks who worked in Vail from 1962-1975.
Why does Walker do it? Well, somebody had to do something, he said.
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With over 1,000 people getting together, some of whom saw each other at the last Pioneer Weekend in 2007, and some of whom haven’t seen each other since the 1960s or 1970s, Walker jokes that the name tags are critical.
The pioneers will kick off the weekend with a registration party in Lionshead. They’ll drink beer and wine and begin to reminisce about those good ol’ days.
“We sure had them,” Walker said. “The old days are nothing like it is today. We used to ride our horse and buggy to town to go drinking, park the horse out front, and if I ran out of money I’d take people around the block, charge them $5 and drink the rest of the night cheap.”
It’s stories like those that will be told throughout the weekend – a weekend of nostalgia for the ski resort and the town that these pioneers were a part of from the very beginning.
These are the people who remember the days when Vail only had a couple of chair lifts – some even remember Vail before there were any chair lifts.
“It cost $5 to ski all day,” Walker remembers. “A season pass was $25.”
Walker arrived in 1966, four years after the ski resort opened. By then, a lot of development had already taken place or was under way.
This year’s Pioneer Weekend is special because it’s the kickoff to Vail’s 50th anniversary, which is officially in December. The 50th anniversary celebrations start with Pioneer Weekend and will continue into the summer of 2013.
A film by Gypsum resident Roger Brown, who has lived in the valley since Vail’s early days, is set to premiere in December. It will show footage of some of the very things the pioneers will remember at Pioneer Weekend – footage such as the early Vail skier pointing his skis straight down and flying down the mountain.
“We didn’t have much of a choice,” Walker said. “It took a week for them to turn those (old) skis.”
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.