Vail Daily column: Pioneers in our business community |

Vail Daily column: Pioneers in our business community

Living out west, and especially in Colorado, we have a lot of exposure to the word “pioneer.” From the University of Denver’s mascot to state parks and historical sites, the pioneering spirit runs deep in our Colorado culture.

Here in the valley, we have our own share of pioneers. From the early settlers to the founders of Vail, we have our own pioneer spirit to celebrate. But what about those “Community Pioneers?” Being a part of the Vail Chamber & Business Association, I get to rub shoulders with business community pioneers every day. It is one of my favorite parts of the job. The owners and employees of those businesses that have stood the test of time here in town and continue to serve our guests year after year with a friendly smile is a nod to how our small town has continued to grow and change.

You know the businesses I am talking about — many of us have worked at one of them at one time or another. All of us have definitely been a patron of at least one. The Red Lion, Will Bill’s Emporium, Bart & Yeti’s, Pepi’s, The Golden Bear, Squash Blossom, Up the Creek, Gorsuch … the list goes on and we are very lucky to have a healthy mix of businesses that make Vail truly unique.

One such business was celebrated in the Vail Daily last week, Vista Bahn Ski Rentals and the Gros family. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary as a Vail business this year. I can say that my grandparents starting back in the late ’70s rented their skis each winter from Joel and this practice has continued to this day with my parents, cousins, aunts and uncles’ yearly winter trips. Their ski shop has played into the fabric of my family’s Vail memories. Each of our guests that return year after year have these same memories of our Vail businesses and is one of the reasons they keep coming back to pass on to the next generation. The continuity of the Vail community always amazes and comforts me.

Pioneer Weekend

One such tradition that celebrates those business owners, employees and residents from the beginning is Pioneer Weekend. The Chamber’s good friend, Packy Walker, has been the coordinator of this special weekend and has passed the torch this year to the VCBA and we couldn’t be more proud to continue this tradition going forward. Pioneer Weekend occurs every five years and is a weekend-long celebration for those that lived and worked in Vail prior to 1983 (this date bumps up every year to include more pioneers).

More than 1,200 attendees enjoyed the festivities in 2012. This year, Pioneer Weekend is on September 22 to 24 and from all of the calls we have been receiving, it looks like it will be just as well-attended and just as fun. The spirit of celebrating Vail, whether you were a business owner, a ski patroller, homeowner or were just passing through for a season pays homage to the effect that the Vail community has on each person who is a part of it. Once a Vail community member, always a Vail community member.

Vail Pioneers will be coming from near and far to join us in September for a weekend full of activities, parties, reminiscing and discovering what is new in town. Vail businesses will be welcoming everyone to town with specials and sponsorships that weekend. If you and your business want to participate in this great weekend, then please let us know before our official invitations go out in May. Vail Resorts and the town of Vail have already stepped forward to help us make this Pioneer Weekend the best yet and we are grateful for their partnership.

So let’s celebrate those businesses and memories that are most special to each of us and that help make our own personal Vail story unique. One of the best ways to do this, that doesn’t have to wait every five years, is to pop in to your favorite businesses this spring and say hi. If you haven’t visited in a while, then you might be pleased to see changes or how some good things never change.

If you want more information about Pioneer Weekend as a participant or community partner, then please visit our website,, under the “Signature Events” tab or you can call us at 970-477-0075. Rumor has it that some old film reels have been unearthed from the iconic bar, The Slope (who remembers?) and are being converted into a digital format for a special screening on Pioneer Weekend. Pair that with a cold beveridge and you have a party.

Stay involved and stay informed. If you are not already receiving the Vail Chamber & Business Association’s weekly newsletter, then email us at to start receiving it. If you are interested in finding out more about the Vail Chamber & Business Association and what we have to offer to businesses in and that do business in Vail, then call 970-477-0075 or email Based in Vail Village, our office is located on the top of level of the Vail Transportation Center, so stop by and say hello.

Alison Wadey is the executive director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association. She is patiently waiting until she can attend Pioneer Weekend as a participant.

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