Vail Daily column: Torch Awards celebrate the culture of Vail |

Vail Daily column: Torch Awards celebrate the culture of Vail

“It’s in the water,” an Eagle County resident says as they describe the magic vibe behind Vail. A tourist takes similar notice, and proclaims that “one day” I will find my way back to Vail. Many of us couldn’t quite wait until retirement to migrate to a place that grabbed us for its sheer beauty and retained us based on the small-town community we call Vail.

The burning question for many is if the culture of Vail can endure and compliment the growing Vail Valley? When locals created a welcoming club down Bridge Street and local establishments developed multi-year relationships with their patrons, authenticity was built and naturally supported. As Vail matures, this authenticity needs focus, support and an intentional transition into the future.

In 2014, the Torch Awards were born to respond to this very important job of preserving the past, while inspiring and passing the torch to future generations of Vail. The awards honor those that shaped the community, and those who now take on a great responsibility for the future.

On Saturday at the Lodge at Vail, the Vail Centre will host the Torch Awards and honor Vail’s town manager from 1970-1979. Lifetime honoree Terry Minger wrote the first charter for the town and was a visionary with his role in preserving Ford Park, developing the Dobson Ice Arena, launching the Vail Symposium, and developing long term parking solutions for the town.

The awards honor those that shaped the community, and those who now take on a great responsibility for the future.

Key community members are also being recognized for their roles in leadership, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and youth leadership. Kelly Liken, a key member in the Centre for Leadership local RoundTable program, is receiving recognition for her community leadership. Jeff Kennedy and the team from Moe’s Bar B Que will be recognized for their entrepreneurial success on a local and national level. Melissa Kirr, sustainability program coordinator at Walking Mountains, leads the Eagle County Actively Green program certifying businesses on sustainability practices and will be receiving an award from the Centre for Sustainability. And lastly, Hayden Gitchell is a rising star among his peers at Eagle Valley High School and will be receiving the Youth Award.

2015 Torch Award Winners:

• Lifetime: Terry Minger

• Leadership: Kelly Liken

• Entrepreneurship: Jeff Kennedy

• Sustainability: Melissa Kirr

• Youth: Hayden Gitchell

The Torch evening is not your standard charitable gala; there is no paddle raising or silent auction items, but instead the ticket prices help provide scholarship seats at every table. This intentional integration creates something special, an integration of social groups not often found in the traditional event scene. During the 2014 event a young woman in her 20s left the event ecstatic that longtime local Beth Slifer spent 20 minutes talking with her. The young woman couldn’t believe how gracious and supportive she was with her interest in her future. These are the conversations that inspire and preserve the casual vibe and community commitment.

Launch evening: The 2015 Torch Awards will also serve as the public launch of the Vail Centre, Vail’s newest destination learning organization. Attendees will include community members looking to support the intellectual renaissance of Vail, and the potential of the Vail Centre becoming one of the state of Colorado’s leading locations for lifelong learning opportunities.

The event takes place Friday at 6:15 p.m. at the Lodge at Vail. To register, visit

If you are interested in a scholarship seat for the event, please call 970-680-3525.

Ross Iverson is CEO of the Vail Centre. Reach him at

Write a column!

What’s on your mind? Share your insights with the rest of the community. What’s going well, not so well? Send your submission to

Support Local Journalism

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User