30 years ago, President Gerald R. Ford and country singer Willie Nelson were at the center of the opening ceremonies for the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheatre, the vision for which involved a future of hosting touchstone musical and theatrical events for the enjoyment of the inhabitants of, and visitors to, the Vail Valley. This year, on Friday, August 18th, Lukas Nelson, son of the country music legend, will open the three-day celebration of the venue’s 30th anniversary. After three decades of realizing that vision, the stage being populated by everybody from Bob Dylan to Misty Copeland, a cycle completes itself at the amphitheater, and the next generation of stars commemorates those early movements toward greatness.
We at La Tour Restaurant are pretty much always scratching our heads at our good fortune…to be situated here in the heart of Vail, tucked into Meadow Drive along the cobblestones that connect business after local business to the foot traffic of the village and the base of the majestic mountain that is our all-season playground. To be a part of the community that is Vail, where a teenager can design and promote the installation of a skate park in honor of a local boy (Zeke M. Pierce Skate Park); where world-class musical entertainers, orchestras, and dance professionals are drawn like magnets to stand or move upon the beautiful GRF amphitheatre stage; where local artists and artisans, vendors and farmers gather weekly to share their gifts and the bounty of their endeavors with one and all; where education and growth, whether in the arena of cooking, wine-making, or gardening, take center stage in a summer offering of workshops…well, it’s nothing to shake a stick at, as Grandma used to say.
The fact that it has been 30 years since the gates of the amphitheater swung open to embrace the people of Vail, and that for the past 19 La Tour Restaurant has gotten to witness its evolution, is something of which we are very proud. Managed and operated by the Vail Valley Foundation, the amphitheater is home to many local events, and it has become an iconic venue for cultural events, namely through the Bravo! Vail Music and the Vail Dance Festivals, both of which attract renowned performing artists from around the world every summer. Almost everyone you talk to in the valley feels deeply connected to the amphitheatre, whether because their son or daughter graduated there, or because they saw their first free concert there during Crazy Mountain Brewery’s Hot Summer Nights Concert Series, or perhaps even because there they witnessed the beauty of the New York Philharmonic or the power of the Royal Ballet.
It’s the heart of culture in the valley, and it’s a gorgeous venue whatever the performance details. The Ford Amphitheatre is turning 30, and it’s looking good! As we prepare to get our music on for three days of appreciating this beautiful and important space in our community, we welcome acts like Third Eye Blind and the internationally acclaimed Rodrigo y Gabriela. “Thirty years is a big deal for us, so we’re going to spend the entire summer celebrating those memories with the celebration peaking Aug. 18 and 19 with our Gerald R. Ford 30th Anniversary Concert celebration,” said Jen Mason, director of the amphitheater for the Vail Valley Foundation. It’s a big deal for us, too, Jen, and we’ll be there with bells on!
Congratulations to all of us, and thank you to the Vail Valley Foundation for its stewardship of such a jewel of a place. The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheatre truly carries the torch for culture in our valley, and we are grateful for all the ways it has served us over the years. May it continue to be honored and supported for the generations to come.
Stop by before a show for our Happy Hour specials from 3-5pm daily!