Vail Pioneers Weekend returns Aug. 27 and 28 |

Vail Pioneers Weekend returns Aug. 27 and 28

Weekend events are for those who worked in town from 1962-1985

If you remember when Vail didn't have heated streets, you may want to attend the Vail Pioneers Weekend, set for Aug. 27 and 28.
Vail Pioneers Weekend/courtesy photo

Not quite 30 years ago, Packy Walker looked at a weak attempt at a Vail Pioneers Weekend and said, “I can do better.” So that’s what he did.

The Vail Pioneers Weekend, held every five years, returns this summer. It’s a chance to reconnect for those who worked in town between 1962 and 1985. Events include get-togethers at Bart & Yeti’s in Lionshead and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Walker has booked the Fabulous Femmes for the amphitheater event. Admission is free, but you must RSVP, and you have to buy your own food and drinks. You also have to pre-register for events.

Five facts

What: Vail Pioneers Weekend

When: Aug. 27 and 28

Where: Bart & Yeti’s, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

To RSVP: Go to Use the website for questions, too.

And: If you don’t RSVP, don’t go.

“If you don’t register, don’t show up,” Walker said.

While the events are free to attend, Walker said there are costs. The town of Vail is a sponsor, and Walker said he’s gathered donations from some of the pioneers who are still in town.

The intent of the early Pioneer Weekends was an effort to have people reconnect, but also to give a bit of a boost to what at the time was a slowish period and get people to spend a weekend at the Lifthouse Lodge, which Walker has run for many years.

Support Local Journalism

The weekend was a package a few years ago, but Walker said he didn’t want to have to mail refund checks in case COVID-19 throws a monkey wrench into this year’s events.

While the events this year are set for Aug. 27 and 28, Walker said he’d like to have an Aug. 26 on-mountain event, but only if he can finagle some free lift tickets for participants.

“It’s great to see people who were here years ago come back,” Walker said. “A lot of them can’t believe what the town looks like now.”

Walker qualifies as a long-timer, having arrived in 1967, when all of about 62 people lived in town.

Walker recalled that he and friend Seth McLaughlin would bring McLaughlin’s horse-drawn carriage for an evening of entertainment. They’d sell visitors a few carriage rides to scrape up enough cash for the two to have a few drinks and a bit of food.

Rod Slifer came to Vail for its first season. He says he’s the only first-season veteran still alive, adding that he was perhaps the youngest of that group.

Slifer teased Walker about his Pioneer Weekend efforts: “He wasn’t even here then,” Slifer said.

But, Slifer added, he’s looking forward to the weekend, “seeing all the people showing up that we haven’t seen in years and years.

“There will be a lot of stories, most of which will be true.”

Support Local Journalism