In 2021, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater opened earlier in the season than ever before and hosted a more dynamic and complete season of events than at any time in its history. An upswell of community support, and a need for outdoor venue spaces, allowed the venue reach new heights as a gathering place, a center for the arts, and a jewel of the Rocky Mountains.
Impact By the Numbers
Where we were once again
In the winter of 2020-21, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater phone was ringing off the hook. Wintertime phone calls aren’t a common occurrence for an outdoor venue that operates in the spring-summer-fall seasonal timeline, but as the world emerged from the early phases of the pandemic, The Amp’s wide-open, outdoor, spaces became more cherished and sought-after than ever before in the venue’s 34-year history.
The result was the most packed calendar the venue ever had. Beginning May 15 – the venue’s earliest opening – the venue welcomed major national touring acts, a world-renowned dance festival, local school performances, holiday celebrations, community events, and everything in between.
The venue had continued to operate on a smaller scale throughout 2020. In 2021, the return of a full season of events created a host of operational questions for the staff as it led the way as one of the first venues of its size in Colorado to return to full-capacity.
Photo Carosel 1: From left to right, rockers Death Cab for Cutie held a very popular show, comedy great Sebastian Maniscalco brought the audience to tears of laughter, and the Fourth of July Patriotic Concert benefitted Vail Valley Veterans. These were among many diverse events held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in 2021. Photos by Jon Resnick and JohnRyan Lockman.
Photo Carosel 2: The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater enjoyed the most packed calendar the venue ever had in 2021. From left to right: Local artists at the End of Summer Community Concert, photo by Jon Resnick, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Lindsey Stirling, photos by JohnRyan Lockman.
FOR THE PEOPLE
Center of COMMUNITY
School graduations have long been a tradition at the venue. In 2021, the Vail Valley Foundation helped accommodate graduations at the venue for additional schools, and also hosted TedX Vail, Homestake Peak Elementary’s school plays, and a four-day run of shows for the Vail Valley Academy of Dance. The venue hosted memorials for entrepreneur and event-industry leader Jeff Brausch, and for David Gorsuch, a key figure in history for both the Town of Vail and skiing in general. Also, the Colorado Ski Museum hosted their iconic Hall of Fame event at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in August.
Only moments after the gates opened for the first full capacity concert event since 2019 (Michael Franti & Spearhead, on June 4), it became clear that the venue’s planning and foresight had been a success.
Thousands of people were overjoyed to come together for one of the first major concerts in the Rockies. Also, earlier in the day, Michael Franti & Spearhead took part in a very special celebration of life for beloved local Jeff Brausch. Together, the concert and memorial created one of the most memorable days in the venue’s history, and helped launch a summer, and autumn, of dynamic performances and events.
The venue quickly transformed from the Michael Franti & Spearhead concert into an exceptional sold-out GoPro Mountains of Music weekend that opened with Yonder Mountain String Band and closed with two nights of Bob Weir & Wolf Bros. These shows were so well received that the band released an album which captures songs from the band’s four-night run at The Amp and Red Rocks, “Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros: Live in Colorado.”
The Vail Valley Foundation’s partnership with AEG Presents continued to flourish in 2021 not only with the Michael Franti and Bob Weir concerts, but also with comedy from Sebastian Maniscalco, concerts from Lindsey Stirling, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Death Cab for Cutie, and Phil Lesh & Friends.
The longstanding partnership between the Vail Valley Foundation and Bravo! Vail Music Festival also reached new heights with the return of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra opened the season June 24 to much acclaim.
In late July and August, the venue welcomed the Vail Valley Foundation’s Vail Dance Festival to resounding critical and popular acclaim. The return of the event to live in-person performances brought vitality to the dance world, and served as the first return to the stage for many of its performers.
The Moe’s Original BBQ Hot Summer Nights free concert series was one of the first events to take place in the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in the late ’80s. In 2021, the series returned to pre-pandemic attendance levels, opening with The High Hawks on June 22 and culminating with Andy Thorn Superjam.
The venue also hosted the first-ever YouthPower365 Stars Variety Show, which showcased local talent and helped raise money for the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365.
On Sept. 9, 2021, The Amp hosted a new “End of Summer Community Concert” which paid tribute to all of the community’s front-line workers and leaders who have helped guide the community through the pandemic, and featured more than 40 local musicians.
It was a year to celebrate unity and togetherness. This was shown not only by the wonderful gatherings held in the venue, but also by the incredible support from donors, partners, and sponsors who, together, helped the venue have a tremendous positive impact on the community in a year when it was needed the most.