| VailDaily.com

Vail’s event calendar starts to fill in, but with a difference

Vail over the past decade-plus has used events as a cornerstone of the town’s economic picture. After months of work, there will be events, but they’ll be more low-key than in the past.

During a Tuesday budget session, the Vail Town Council got a look at a possible menu of summer events. The funding reflects a 32% decline in the town’s usual events, to about $2.1 million.

Events later in the year will still be funded. Those events include Snow Days and the second season of the Revely—Vail Holidays. Spring Back to Vail is also funded, but only with $100,000 instead of the previously allocated $300,000.

There won’t be any full-house affairs, but the town is providing funding to help ideas including:

  • Vail Jazz will hold eight performances at a new stage on lower bench of Ford Park, roughly the area between the Betty Ford Alpine Garden and the playground.
  • The Bravo! Vail Music festival will hold eight performances at smaller venues.
  • The Hot Summer Nights series will hold six concerts at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, with limits on attendance.

A stationary parade?

There will be a Vail America Days celebration, but in ways that won’t have people shoulder-to-shoulder along the parade route.

This year’s Vail America Days will hold a “stationary parade,” with exhibits set up in Vail and Lionshead villages.

Peggy Wolfe of Highline Sports and Entertainment, which produces Vail America Days, said the idea is to create a safe environment for residents and guests.

“How you create that is a challenge,” Wolfe said.

The answer is that there’s plenty of space with the static parade concept. People can wander as they will, according to their personal comfort levels, Wolfe said.

In addition to the displays reflecting the themes of patriotism and “stronger together,” Wolfe said there will be either mobile music or groups giving quick performances. Musicians may play for 10 minutes, then take a break, in order to keep people moving through town.

There will be other music, through the summer.

Vail Economic Development Director Mia Vlaar has been working with event producers almost since the March 15 shutdown of the state’s ski resorts.

At first, a number of event producers decided to cancel their events. Some, including the GoPro Mountain Games, Oktoberfest and Gourmet on Gore, will start again. Other producers at first thought about cancelling, then started to think about ways to have events while maintaining social distancing requirements.

Vlaar said Vail Jazz was one of the first with a reimagined idea of what summer could look like.

From picnic to small show

The original idea was a kind of picnic in the park, with guests bringing their own food and drink, blankets and chairs.

That evolved into a new idea for the lower bench of Ford Park, with a small stage at its center.

Vlaar said these concerts will take advantage of a couple of pieces of luck.

There usually aren’t events in that area, Vlaar said, and that piece of the park is often used by families attending sports tournaments. With those tournaments on hiatus this year, those families likely won’t be around.

In addition, the stage can go on the site of the former Stickwork public art display. Grass needs to be replaced there, so it’s a good place to put a temporary stage before replanting.

There’s also electric power probably 50 feet from the proposed stage site. In all, it’s just about ideal for small-venue shows.

The Vail Valley Foundation operates the amphitheater. Tom Boyd manages that facility, and is also the foundation’s public relations manager.

Boyd said a lot depends on public health orders. But as restrictions ease, there could be as many as 500 people admitted into the roughly 2,600-seat facility. There could be 250 people on the lawn, with another 250 under the covered seats. Full details are expected in late June or early July, but Boyd said the idea is to have a Hot Summer Nights season, albeit an abbreviated one. Foundation officials are also working on ideas for some ticketed shows, as well as movies and other events at the amphitheater.

The amphitheater is positioned well for smaller events, Boyd said. Access can be controlled, and social distancing outdoors is relatively easy.

Just about every event producer in the valley has been working on ways to reimagine its summer season. And, while the COVID-19 virus has done untold damage, Wolfe said there’s been a positive development with event producers.

Like most industry groups, local event producers have formed a task force. That’s been a “positive thing,” Wolfe said. Those producers share ideas, concerns and other information with each other. That doesn’t usually happen.

“Being able to have this group as a sounding board has been great,” Wolfe said. “When we talk about community, that, to me is the good side of what’s happened.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.

Photos: Week in photos in the Vail Valley from Sept. 24-30

The last week in September offered beautiful color and heart-warming memories of those who helped establish and make Vail thrive. Byron Brown’s memorial was held in Vail, as well as the Vail Pioneer Weekend. New snow and fall colors were also in full swing in the Valley. For more snow and foliage photos, click here http://bit.ly/2xZbhXT

The Outlier Offroad Festival, a mountain bike race and demo event, also took place in Vail. For photos click here, http://bit.ly/2y5rRqN