Vail looks for iconic Memorial Day weekend event |

Vail looks for iconic Memorial Day weekend event

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – The town of Vail’s Commission on Special Events is looking for that iconic event that will kick off summer a week earlier than summers in Vail typically get going.

Memorial Day weekend is a weekend when many families celebrate the beginning of summer. It’s the weekend when public pools and theme parks open, and coincidentally, a weekend when families have an extra day off to spend out of town in places like Vail.

For years the town has hoped for an event producer to propose something great that isn’t dependent on the weather. The town thought it had found it last year with Mojo Man, an outdoor adventure event similar to Tough Mudder, but the event producers realized there wasn’t enough time to get permits in place and market the event, said Sybill Navas, the town of Vail’s special events coordinator.

Whether a Mojo Man proposal is submitted again this year, nobody knows, but town officials are hopeful they can get a good event to come to town in 2013.

“It just seems like people come here and there’s nothing to do,” said Commission on Special Events member Rayla Kundolf, referring to Memorial Day weekend. “Beaver Creek has a big event and people go there because there’s something to do.”

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Kundolf is referring to Beaver Creek’s Blues, Brews and BBQ – a nearly decade-old event that is well attended. Navas said the town of Vail isn’t seeking a Memorial Day weekend event to compete with Blues, Brews and BBQ, but it is trying to curtail criticism of Vail during the holiday weekend.

“We’ve been criticized for years that people come to Vail for the long weekend and there’s nothing going on,” Navas said.

Event producers have been hesitant in years past because the weather during Memorial Day weekend in Vail can be anything from cold and snowy to warm and sunny.

Vail Town Councilwoman and Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council member Susie Tjossem said one of the most important things to consider for a Memorial Day weekend event is that the event fits the Vail brand.

“There is an opportunity to create new signature event for Vail during that weekend,” she said, adding that if an event producer doesn’t step up with a proposal, the town could consider creating a proposal.

So what is a signature event consistent with the Vail brand? Well, there are already many, and the town is careful not to bring in anything that is repetitive.

In the summer, the Bravo Vail Valley Music Festival comes to mind, as does the Vail International Dance Festival and the Vail Jazz Festival.

Those are events that put heads in beds, meaning visitors travel to Vail and stay a few nights because of them.

Not all events have to drive long hotel stays, though, Tjossem points out. Plenty of Vail events that might not bring in huge lodging revenues do provide another kind of value in that they bring people to town and give the town energy.

“Some are just to create ambiance and put feet on the streets and draw people into the commercial core,” Tjossem said.

And with feet already on the streets most Memorial Day weekends, the town hopes they’ll stay there and not leave out of boredom.

A Commission on Special Events request for proposals distributed recently has those involved with Vail’s special events eagerly waiting. Kundolf thinks there will be some surprising and promising proposals.

“We’re always looking for that iconic event,” she said.

The request for proposals includes specific criteria all revolving around how well it fits in with Vail’s brand.

“All proposals will be evaluated with respect to how they align with the strategic approach to providing a calendar of events that are well matched to the ‘Vail’ brand and will exceed the expectations of a very sophisticated and international clientele,” the request reads.

Other criteria include:

∞ Potential for positive economic impact to the lodging, restaurant and retail sectors of the community, with the highest priority given to events that drive destination guests from all over America and around the world.

• Opportunity to leverage funding with sponsorships and/or media exposure so as to “stretch” the impact of the Commission on Special Events’ contribution, as well as the proposed event’s potential for growth.

∞ Experience and qualifications of the event producer.

∞ The event is proposed for a time of year that supports the Commission on Special Events’ goal of ensuring a calendar of events that will stimulate the local business economy throughout the year.

∞ Contribution to Vail’s “Sense of Community.”

Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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