Your guide to Fourth of July weekend in the Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

Your guide to Fourth of July weekend in the Vail Valley

Page McClean
Daily correspondent

Independence Day tends to bring out Eagle County's patriotic side. Each town in the valley has a chance to shine, from spectacular fireworks and parades to more community-oriented barbecues and events. Read on to plan your Fourth of July weekend.

Gypsum

On Friday night, Gypsum will be hosting its last evening of the Movies & Music series in celebration of our independence. As part of the event, the town will cook up a community barbecue featuring free hot dogs, popcorn and drinks. Show up early with the kids so they can play in the giant obstacle course, try out all the bouncy castles, get their faces painted and then hang out with the firefighters for some game time. The band starts at 6 p.m. and will play until it gets dark enough to screen "The Little Rascals." Donations to this event will help the fire department raise money for their new equipment fund.

Eagle

What kind of July 4 parade will you find in this fat tire paradise? A bike parade, of course. Decorate your bike to the nines and head to the Brush Creek Pavilion for a ride to the Eagle town park. An old fire truck will lead the parade, ready to cool off riders with a spray of the hose. Stick around for games and treats for the kids, and test the elastic of your bike shorts in the pie-eating contest. The Vail Valley Medical Center will be giving away T-shirts, prizes and party favors to the best-dressed bikes and riders. Organizer Mary Lou Yeik expects that the parade will bring anywhere from 350 to 500 participants.

"It's a great family event. We've had kids in strollers; we've had grandmas and grandpas," she said.

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Her own children first participated when they were just older than 2. After recuperating from this all-day event, enjoy the evening fireworks, which will start after dark at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

Avon

"Our fireworks are going to be absolutely amazing, as they are every year," said Danita Dempsey, the town's director of festivals and special events.

The 29th annual FirstBank Salute to the USA is more than just spectacular fireworks; there are a lot of exciting developments in this year's celebration. For one, the mayor will christen the new Avon Performance Pavilion with some on-stage performances by silk aerialists and fire artists. Second, the north side of the fields will now offer wine in addition to beer. Finally, the family zone, located by the rec center, will remain open until 9 p.m. this year. There will be 11 different performers, including Uncle Sam on stilts, giant puppets and acrobats. The food vendors will be providing their delicious festival fare, including roasted ears of corn, giant turkey legs, tacos, ice cream and funnel cakes. One of the veteran food vendors, Jeff White of Dillon, admits that the Avon fireworks are even better than the ones in Summit County.

"It's the best fireworks show I've ever been to," he said, adding that as a festival food vendor, he has been to a lot.

Both White and Dempsey encourage visitors to arrive early to enjoy the scene while the sun is still out and it's not too crowded. You can stake your claim with a blanket before the event begins, but the gates won't open to the public until 5 p.m. As parking is limited, carpool or take public and pedal-powered transportation to the event.

While Dempsey always enjoys the fireworks, what she really loves is "just seeing the park fill up with all of the members of the community along with our visitors, with smiles all around, and families spending time together."

Beaver Creek

Right up the hill, Beaver Creek has its own Independence Day Celebration planned. There is a full day of activities on Saturday, July 4. Make your reservations early for the July 4 picnic at Beano's Cabin. The event features live entertainment, drink specials, lawn games for kids of all ages and, most importantly, plenty of barbecue on the buffet table. Walk or take a ride down the hill to the village for more food, drinks, and music.

"Country star Charlie Worsham will get everyone dancing as he headlines this year's list of music acts taking place in the afternoon and into the evening," said Beaver Creek Resort Company Managing Director Jen Brown. "The Stars, Stripes and Slides event for kids is free and not to be missed, featuring games, slides, bounce houses and more. We're looking forward to providing an action packed holiday weekend."

Beaver Creek will host its own July 4 fireworks that evening.

Vail

Vail kicks off its July 4 with the trademarked Vail America Days Parade. This year's theme is "Celebrate the USA! Great Moments in American History," sponsored by the Gallegos Corporation.

"(It's a) great way to celebrate with family and friends," said Dave Little, chief business development officer of the company.

What does Gallegos have planned for this year's float?

"Well, that's a secret," he said.

The town is blessed to have local legends Pepi and Sheika Gramshammer as the parade marshals this year. After lunch, make your way over to the Ford Amphitheater for the annual Patriotic Concert performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the traditional program, there will also be a special tribute to Glenn Miller this year. Conductor Jeff Tyzik is looking forward to his 20th season in Vail and his 16th July 4 concert.

"There's no other place I'd rather be than Vail on this weekend," Tyzik said. "The whole town is just so excited about the concert. They are exuberant, showing off their patriotism, and it's a wonderful experience."

Finish off the day with fireworks and music at Golden Peak, starting at dusk.

Fourth of July highlights

July 3

FirstBank Salute to the USA, 5 p.m., Avon

Independence Celebration, 6 p.m., Gypsum

July 4

Bike Parade, 8:15 a.m., Eagle

Celebrate the USA! Great Moments in American History Parade, 10 a.m., Vail

Beano’s July 4th Picnic, 11 a.m., Beaver Creek

Stars, Stripes and Slides, noon, Beaver Creek

Bravo! Patriotic Concert, 2 p.m., Vail

Beaver Creek Independence Day Celebration, 2 p.m., Beaver Creek

Golden Peak Fireworks, dusk, Vail

Eagle Fireworks, 9:30 p.m., Eagle

Beaver Creek Fireworks, 9:30 p.m., Beaver Creek