Vail Daily letter: End of an era

On behalf of everyone involved in the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival, we would like to thank our friends, neighbors and community businesses in the Vail Valley for 16 years of support. It has been a fantastic adventure, and we are so grateful for the opportunity we have been given to create this event. It is likewise a privilege to give back to the community that has been home to both of us for 25-plus years.

There are so many people in the Vail Valley who have been part of our celebration of craft beer that it would be impossible to thank everyone, and I would hate to miss anyone. Let it suffice that the event simply would not have been possible without the volunteer support of our friends, neighbors and community businesses that have stepped up each year. Several people over time have committed long hours with us organizing and executing homebrew competitions, retail sales, volunteer schedules, unloading and loading trucks and more. Our partnership with the Vail Valley Charitable Fund has also been second to none.

As you probably know, the Vail Cascade is undergoing an enormous renovation and will emerge as a new property that is, unfortunately, priced beyond our reach. The last two months have been daunting, as I have explored all of the options available to continue the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival. Our first priority has been to keep the event in Vail, as the town of Vail and the Commission on Special Events have been tremendously supportive and Vail has been our home since the first event. Failing that, we absolutely wanted to stay in the Vail Valley, to continue forward with the Vail Valley Charitable Fund and our amazingly supportive community network.

After extensive meetings and property tours in both Vail and Beaver Creek, it has become apparent that there is no financially feasible way to continue the event in the Vail Valley. We have considered closing down the event. Sixteen years is a very respectable run, and we cannot continue to host Big Beers in Vail as it has been. To assist with this decision, we sent out a survey to all of our recent attendees and participants asking what changes to the event would be acceptable to them in order to continue forward. With an overwhelming response in support of continuing the event and moving it if necessary, I have also explored options at Keystone, Copper Mountain, and Breckenridge.

It is very difficult for us to move the Big Beers Festival out of the Vail Valley, as this has been our home for 25-plus years. This is where we work and play, where Bill and Barb’s girls are growing up, and where we support our friends and neighbors.

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There will likely be other events that each of us will be involved with and help to create over time in Vail, in Beaver Creek and elsewhere in the Vail Valley. This will still be home. However, it feels like the end of an era, and we wanted to thank you all for making the Vail Big Beers Festival era possible.

Laura and Bill Lodge

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