Linda Stamper Boyne: Vail Valley culture is what it is
Vail, CO, Colorado
I was having a conversation with someone about living in the Vail Valley versus living in New York City. Besides the most obvious differences, the young man I was talking to said, “There’s just no culture here.”
Uh, what? Seriously? Has he been living under a rock? We have culture galore here! Hello? Bravo Vail Valley Music Festival. Vail International Dance Festival. Beaver Creek Art Festival. The Vilar Performing Arts Center and the internationally know acts that come through there, Hot Summer Nights, Street Beat (the later two might fall under the heading of “culture,” but they are live performances nonetheless).
Now, granted, this conversation took place in late April, when there’s hardly a restaurant open, let alone any cultural opportunities to partake in.
And let me define young man by saying he was straight out of college spending his first winter in the “real world” here in the valley, hardly the real world. But that’s another topic altogether.
So it made me stop and think about how our background and experiences shape our perceptions of a place. Coming from any big city, or even from a college with all its “cultural” offerings, this place may pale in comparison culturally.
We have a strange dichotomy here. We are a small town, kind of in the middle of nowhere, but we also happened to be a community with two world-class ski resorts. And with that comes a certain opportunities not afforded to your average rural town.
I, myself, was raised in a blue-collar community on the Oregon coast, not realy a hotbed of culture. For us, culture was more homegrown. The neighboring town’s high school put on an annual spring musical performance that was the can’t-miss theatrical event of the season.
This was supplemented by the full-community productions put on several times a year at the Little Theater on the Bay (I kid you not. Once acronyms became all the rage it was known as LTOB!). Once the South Coast Music Festival began every summer, bringing together orchestral musicians from all over the country, we hit the big time.
So, to me, I’ve hit the jackpot with the Vail Valley. But I would hate for my friend from NYC, where you are inundated with culture without even seeking it out, to be sent into the cultural oblivion of real smalltown America. Talk about culture shock!
I think you can find something for everyone here if you look for it. There’s a certain grace in learning to appreciate what is offered and not comparing it to what’s available elsewhere. It is what it is.
Sure, we could sit around and come up with a long list of things that we don’t have here: independent films, venues for smaller musical performances, accessible art museums, yadda, yadda, yadda. But then we would miss out on what we have here, which really is pretty phenomenal.
Surely my friend from the Big Apple was not anticipating being able to see his hometown orchestra playing in our humble little town, along with their friends from that symphony in Dallas and the group from Philadelphia. And I’m certain he had no idea that some of the world’s best dancers move across the stage at the Ford Amphitheater and the Vilar Performing Art Center throughout the year.
We may not have art museums, but we do have the Ski Museum and fabulous art galleries that frequently have public events. Loaded Joe’s has their monthly rotating art exhibits, hanging the works of a different artist every month.
If it’s performance art you seek, you could just follow me and my boys around for a little while. Recently after a Bravo concert, they began a faux street fight by a water feature in Betty Ford Alpine Garden. As I became the vocal element of the piece, (“Boys, stay out of the water. Don’t step on the plants. Come on, let’s go.”) people actually stood on the path watching us, as if they were an exhibit placed there for their appreciation.
I half expected applause and someone to hand us a dollar.
Maybe this was not the culture my friend was looking for.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org