Vail Van Show cancels; four major brands cite California wildfires as reason for decision to pull out |

Vail Van Show cancels; four major brands cite California wildfires as reason for decision to pull out

In 2020, the global pandemic has impacted events across the world. The latest cancellation in Vail is the Van Show, impacted by the West Coast wildfires that have burned with an intensity previously unseen.

Vail’s first North American Van Show was slated for Friday, Sept. 25, to Sunday, Sept. 27. The first-year event was set and ready to go, said organizer Mike McCormack, principal at the Eagle-based events, public relations and marketing company Uncommon Communications.

Then, late last week, four of the show’s top brands pulled out, citing the California wildfires and transportation barriers as reasons for their decision. They were scheduled to bring more than a dozen rigs to Vail Village, per an email McCormack sent to stakeholders, announcing the cancelation.

“With the pandemic and California being shut down anyway, the fires just proved to be an obstacle that was too big to overcome,” McCormack said. “How do you respond to that other than with empathy?”

The Bobcat Fire burns in the distance beyond a Joshua tree Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Juniper Hills, Calif. Brands slated to participate in the Vail Van Show cited the wildfires as a reason for their decision to pull out.
Marcio Jose Sanchez | Associated Press

With that, McCormack made the difficult decision to cancel what would have been a first-year event. He’s grateful for the town of Vail’s support and is looking forward to next year. So are exhibitors, who are already registering for next year’s event, happening Sept. 24-27, 2021.

“It’s a bummer, but the work hasn’t gone to waste. The enthusiasm for next year is really over the top,” McCormack said. “We’re ready for next year. A good event has 16 to 18 months of lead time, and that’s what we have.”

Without four of the biggest brands, McCormack said the event wouldn’t have been able to offer a guest experience that provided a seamless and high-quality experience, from start to finish. Plus, the Lionshead Eagle Bahn Gondola has already closed, and Gondola One in the Village closing this coming weekend, meaning that Vail is winding down its summer season in preparation for the winter.

“Quality matters,” he said.

While event cancelations have become commonplace in the unusual year that has been 2020, calling it hasn’t been in the playbook for event organizers until this year made it absolutely necessary. McCormack said all events organizers are used to adapting and thinking on their feet, because nothing ever goes exactly according to plan.

“Events are made from curveballs,” he said.

He said that putting on event is like the inner workings of a watch: guests see the time, and organizers are the tiny gears, coordinating moving parts and keeping everything in working order while the guest doesn’t even notice what’s going on behind the glass.

“Faced with the facts, the writing is on the wall,” he said. “But we live to fight another day.”

All vendors and exhibitors have been offered a full refund for this year’s event registration, and registration for next year is already open. For more information, visit

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