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Vail Pioneers Weekend filling up fast

If you’ve been around Vail long enough to remember the time Elvis stayed in Vail, you’re eligible to be part of Vail Pioneers Weekend.

However, the window of opportunity is closing. Organizers are limited to 500 people, and about 350 are already signed up.

“We have to cut off registration at 500 people, or on Aug. 15, whichever comes first,” said longtime local Packy Walker, one of the event’s organizers.



Basically, if you were around in 1976 or so, you’re invited.

Elvis has left the building



Through an oddball series of transactions, it came to pass that in 1976, Elvis Presley visited Vail.

It seems The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll stayed in a house on Mill Creek Circle and never ventured out during the day. Local freelance photographer Susan Biddle got an assignment from a gossip tabloid to get a photo of Elvis’s Vail excursion.

In pursuing The Public’s Right to Know, Biddle borrowed a dog from a friend and pretended to be walking it in front of the Elvis House. Her ethical standards would allow her to walk a real dog in pursuit of an artificial news event, but wouldn’t allow her to ambush Elvis by jumping out of the bushes to get the photo.



In pursuing her subject, Biddle discovered that The King slept all day, then took snowmobile trips up U.S. Forest Service land at night, returning about 5 a.m.

Former Vail Associates employee Pam Conklin recalls the Presley Posse snowmobiling on Golden Peak in the dark of night when the Vail police were summoned.

Roy Romero, one of Vail’s Finest – and one of the few to have an actual Elvis Sighting – says the reclusive King was wearing a ski mask and a Denver police badge. At first, Romero says, he didn’t believe it was The King, especially given The Emperor’s New Clothes and the fact Elvis was being escorted by Capt. Jerry Kennedy of the Denver Police Department.

Romero says he was invited to a party the next day at the Elvis House – but politely declined, claiming other pressing non-Presley business.

Still seeking sponsors

Vail Pioneer Weekend organizers are still looking for funding, hoping to have enough nailed down to cover all the costs.

“We have no idea how big it’s going to get,” said Vail Pioneer and local businessman Rod Slifer. “A lot of people who will come already live here. We’ve also been contacted by people from all over who say they’re coming.”

Right now, Vail Resorts and the town of Vail are helping out, along with a growing list. The Vail Business Chamber Association is handling the logistics.

Vail Pioneers Weekend Sept. 20-22

– Friday – Registration from 4-9 p.m., at the Crossroads Center in Vail Village. A Vail Village Block party runs from 5-7 p.m.

– Saturday – Morning golf. Right now, there’s room for 48 golfers. The greens fees are $50, which includes a golf cart.

– Saturday – Block party in Lionshead from 4-6 p.m. with live music.

– Saturday – Pioneer Party at the Kaltenburg Castle, 6-11 p.m.

– Sunday – Church service atop Vail Mountain. Vail Resorts is providing complimentary gondola rides. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Vail Resorts is co-sponsoring a mountain picnic. It’s $5.


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