Vail Symposium wraps up most well-attended summer season in four years
By the numbers: Vail Symposium Summer 2015
• 1,201 — Attendees
• 31 — Percent growth in attendance over 2014 summer season
• 22 — Speakers
• 16 — Events and programs
• 5 — Free events, of the 16 offered
• 4 — Hot Topics programs
• 3 — Consciousness programs, plus three workshops
• 3 — Outdoor film screenings
• 1 — Special-edition Unlimited Adventure program
• 1 — Arts and Culture Program
• 1 — Living at Your Peak Program
The Vail Symposium started its 44th summer season on Thursday, June 18, with a special edition Unlimited Adventure program with local mountaineer Jon Kedrowski and ended the season Thursday, Sept. 10, with a program led by Leslie Weldon, deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Between those two dates, the organization experienced its most well attended summer season in four years.
“We did a few things differently this summer,” said Tracey Flower, the Vail Symposium’s executive director. “We listened to what our audience wanted to learn about, organized two programs to cover breaking current events, hosted smaller and more intimate workshops and cut the ticket price for a number of events so anyone could attend.”
Learning at core
Kedrowski’s program, where he recounted his experience on Everest during the Nepal earthquake, attracted 250 attendees and included information on local relief efforts. Many mountaineers have shared their stories from the Himalaya on the Symposium stage, and Kedrowski was able to discuss specific challenges the region faces following the earthquake.
Other program topics included solar energy, expanded consciousness, energy medicine, curating major art exhibits, nutrition for performance, genetic engineering, documentary and independent film and internally displaced persons.
“Learning has always been at the core of what we do,” Flower said. “Every one of our programs offered information directly from an expert. From genetic engineering to solar energy to nutrition and art, the lectures and audience Q&A were fantastic.”
Dr. Timothy J. Standring’s lecture on curating major art exhibitions at the Denver Art Museum, Jamie Metzl’s audience Q&A on genetic engineering and the nutrition panel’s explanations of breakthroughs in nutrition and sports science fascinated sold-out crowds at the Grand View. Other highlights included consciousness speakers Dr. Sue Morter, who brought the audience to their feet dancing to explore energy medicine, and Elizabeth Carman, who led a peaceful Yoga Nidra workshop.
Other summer speakers at the Symposium included Heather Bailey, John Jimison, Laura Farris, Mark Simmons, Anne Archer Butcher, Dr. Inigo San Milan, Dr. Dennis Lipton, Dr. Ben Stone, Neil Carman, Michael Skinner, Jon Michael Shink, Paul Ashton, Katie Page, Dr. Enas Alsharea, Chen Reis and Suzanne Crocker.
The film series, which returned this summer by popular demand, was a Symposium fan-favorite. With $2 beers from Crazy Mountain Brewery, a gorgeous outdoor setting, exclusive films and introductions and explanations by the film producers, writers and actors, the film series doubled in attendance every week from 40 to 80 to more than 160 attendees in the third week.
“It would be very hard for anyone that attended a handful of our programs to pick a favorite topic or speaker,” Flower said. “We got a lot of positive feedback after each program and always about something different — a beautiful venue, a charismatic speaker, trustworthy information on a controversial subject, a unique education or a fun night of entertainment.”
The 2016 winter season lineup will be announced in November and is expected to grow to more than 25 programs.
“This summer, there really was something for everyone,” Flower said. “I think I speak for everyone involved with the Symposium when I say thank you to all of our speakers, to all of our volunteers, to all of our supporters and to every single audience member.”
For more information, visit vailsymposium.org.