by J. J. Lamb

The Voices of Vail film documentary premiered to a sold-out Fox Theatre on August 12th.  The Vail Youth Symphony brought the sounds of The History of Vail, an original composition to life on the Fox stage, setting the tone for the film. Cheers and clapping punctuated the experience as familiar faces shared stories from the silver screen about life in a Vail that growth and development has all but erased. The process of producing Voices of Vail made me keenly aware of the importance of heritage preservation. It is that sometimes hard-to-define mix of traditions, iconic buildings, and landscape features, together with defining moments, and just as important, everyday life, that connects us to each other and the place we call home. The premiere brought over 1,000 residents old and new together and validated that importance.

Voices of Vail offers a small glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry, storied history, and invaluable natural resources of Vail. Our hope is that the film serves to keep the memories of Vail’s past alive, and that it will help guide the growth of tomorrow’s Vail. Understanding our place in the generational chain that links us together begins with listening and consciously cultivating understanding and empathy with those who may be from another generation, may not look like us, may have a different belief system, or perhaps live in a home they built with their own hands.

As we worked on the film, we grew to understand and respect that making a place your home is a profound commitment. Vail, as Chauncey Kelley so eloquently states in the film, is more a spirit than a spot. How can a census-designated place protect what it values? How much do we really care about the peoples who called this area home before us? Or, our star-studded night skies, open spaces, wildlife and its habitat, the waters of Cienega Creek, or the ranching and railroad heritage that gave Vail its start?  And what, if anything, are we willing to do to ensure that as Vail grows, it reflects the values of those who call it home? Will it remain simply a census designated place?

The Vail Preservation Society has been working since 2006 to connect community members, preserve our heritage and to re-establish the historic core of Vail Between the TracksÔ, where our community began in 1880. This is our children’s home “town.” Consider what you will do to hand it off to them a bit better than you found it. We are nothing without our memories, they build understanding, they provide a foundation. Preservation isn’t for the past—it’s for the future we build together.

The Voices of Vail Committee has a second showing of the Voices of Vail film in the works and the DVD is available for purchase at for $20.00.



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J.J. Lamb