The Vail Mountain School Home Tour, through the years |

The Vail Mountain School Home Tour, through the years

Sharon Schmidt
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyOver the years, the Vail Mountain School Home Tour has taken place in Vail, Mountain Star, Lake Creek, Cordillera, Cordillera Valley Club, Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch. Sunday's tour is in Arrowhead. The event raises funds for financial assistance for students who might not otherwise be able to attend VMS.

VAIL, Colorado – Celebrating 40 years of opening doors to homes and providing opportunities for education in the Vail Valley, the Vail Mountain School Home Tour is a treasured tradition. This year, the tour takes place at Arrowhead at Vail on Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

For those Home Tour guests (or spouses and friends) who are golfers, there is an afternoon golf tournament option with a 1:30 p.m. shotgun start at Sonnenalp Golf Club.

While the school has remained committed to the purpose of the Home Tour – to raise funds for financial assistance for students who might not otherwise be able to attend VMS – the venues have varied from year to year, and the Home Tour has evolved to include a raffle with incredible prizes; a Gourmet Pantry of epicurean delights; a trade show of local businesses; and new this year, a golf tournament in the afternoon.

The Home Tour originated as a kitchen tour of Vail homes in 1972, the same year the school celebrated its 10th anniversary. In an effort to establish scholarships for students to attend the then-named Vail Country Day School, parents organized the event, volunteered their kitchens, and hosted the guests. The aromas of fresh turkey and ham wafted from the ovens, and each home was decorated in a unique theme with corresponding items for sale, including Christmas cookie recipes, “What’s Cooking in Vail” cookbooks, homemade candy, wildflower seeds, and freshly baked French bread. Guests were delighted to take a glimpse into unique slices of mountain lifestyle, and, of course, everyone wanted a peek at the rest of each home after seeing the kitchen. The full tuition for one student was raised by the inaugural Home Tour.

In time, as the school grew, support for the Home Tour also increased. Home Tour committee members began adding their own unique touches to the experience. In 1975, the “Gourmet Treat” was a $2.50 luncheon with soups, breads, cheeses, wine, and specialty desserts. In 1977, a raffle was incorporated into the fundraising efforts; prizes included a Vail ski pass from the ski resort and a handmade mountain artisans quilt from Gorsuch, Ltd., two of the school’s raffle prize donors to this day.

Elaine Kelton is one of the early settlers of Vail, a parent of three VMS graduates, a Home Tour chairperson, and a frequent guest on the Home Tour.

“The tour began at a time when everyone who lived in the Vail Valley took part in what they wanted the community to become,” Kelton said. “The early Tours were a means to invite guests to learn more about the school, and how it benefited the children and the community as a whole.”

For many years, the school embraced Vail as the sole backdrop of the Home Tour, and guests incorporated the event into their “Vailfest” weekend activities, which also included sporting events, street music, and a traditional European-style beer garden. As then-Mayor Paul Johnston wrote in the introduction of the 1985 Home Tour Magazine, “The village tempo in September is somewhat slower and allows one to relax and enjoy life more fully.”

In 1996, when the school celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Home Tour, they took the show on the road to the newly developed neighborhood at Mountain Star. Since then, the Home Tour has taken place in Lake Creek, Arrowhead, Glen Lyon, Cordillera, Cordillera Valley Club, Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch. The school brings the Tour back to Vail on a regular basis, providing guests access to some of the area’s finest homes and welcoming them onto campus for the Luncheon and a tour of the school.

“I am so pleased, as a long-standing member of the Vail Valley, to see that 40 years later, the Home Tour continues to provide much needed funds to enable children who could not otherwise afford it, to attend the school, and, that 40 years later, the school, its students, and alumni, remain cornerstones of the community with an ever-increasing impact on the Valley and beyond,” Kelton said.

Next year, as Vail Mountain School celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Home Tour will once again return to its beloved village in celebration of the past, present, and future.

To purchase tickets for this year’s Home Tour in Arrowhead at Vail or to play in the afternoon Golf Tournament at Sonnenalp Golf Club call 970-477-7170 or go online at

Sharon Schmidt is director of development for Vail Mountain School.

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