Vail Today: Looking back on 30 years of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (video) |

Vail Today: Looking back on 30 years of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (video)

By Tricia Swenson | Vail Today
Time flies when you are having fun and fun is what the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater has provided for 30 years. What started out as just a few donated seats in the middle of a field, which some people considered to be too far out of town, has become a 2,600-seat theater featuring 1,250 covered seats and a boulder-terraced lawn that provides a world-class setting for the performing arts. In the summer of 1987, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater hosted acts like the Colorado Springs Symphony, Alvin Ailey Repertory Company and Bob Hope, who would frequent town for the Jerry Ford Invitational golf tournament. But the road to its grand opening celebration held on June 27, 1987 was a long one. In the Opinion section of The Vail Trail on June 26, 1987, it was written: “If you ever thought that the Ford Amphitheater would never be completed, don’t feel bad, you certainly weren’t alone. The fact is, we think a great many people, us included, were of mind a couple years back to give up.” But for those who subscribed to the “if you build it, they will come” mentality, the Ford Amphitheater was built and yes, they did come. The crowds came as well as the renown orchestras, dancers and musicians of all genres. The Vail Valley Foundation’s Harry Frampton spearheaded the vision of what the Ford Amphitheater could become. Several fundraising efforts and benefit concerts were held. The Vail Valley Foundation hosted a reception for donors prior to the Bob Hope concert held on Sept 4, 1987 for individuals or businesses that either purchased or donated services equal to $1,250 per seat. On July 17, 1987, Willie Nelson & Family played a benefit concert where the proceeds would be used to help complete the venue. Attendees paid $25 for general admission, $50 for reserved and $100 for VIP tickets. A thirty-year circle will come complete when Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas Nelson and this band Promise of the Real open up for Rodrigo y Gabriela Friday night, Aug. 18. Dead Man Winter featuring Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles will open on Saturday night, Aug. 19 for Third Eye Blind. Two-day passes, one-night-only and VIP tickets are available at

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