Aspen Times Weekly: Picnic Time in Snowmass |

Aspen Times Weekly: Picnic Time in Snowmass

by Andrew Travers
Aspen Camp participants thank the crowd after performing skits during the 2014 Deaf Camp Picnic in Snowmass Base Village
Snowmass Sun file |

If You Go…

What: Deaf Camp Benefit

Where: Snowmass Base Village

When: Saturday, July 16

How much: Free; donations to the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are accepted and encouraged

More info:


Deaf Camp Benefit Lineup

Noon, Gates open

1 p.m. Mack Bailey, Bobby Mason and Rich Ganson

4 p.m. Jes Grew

6:30 p.m. Special Performance by Deaf Campers

7 p.m. Pimps of Joytime

Now in its fourth year since being resurrected, the Deaf Camp Benefit brings together locals, tourists, musicians and campers to celebrate and support the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The original Deaf Camp Picnic, founded in 1967, was an iconic Snowmass event founded by John Denver, featured performances by the likes of Jimmy Buffet and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and raised funds for the camp. Back then it was held at the camp in Old Snowmass and in the Campground area behind Snowmass Ski Area. It went dormant after Denver’s untimely death in 1997 until its return in 2013, when it came back to life at Snowmass Base Village.

And it’s now steadily becoming a cornerstone of the summer in Snowmass Village.

This year’s headliner is the rollicking soul band Pimps of Joytime, preceded by a performance by Deaf Campers and the local jam rockers Jes Grew.

Opening up the festivities this year is a trio of longtime local musicians: Mack Bailey, Bobby Mason and Rich Ganson. Mason, the beloved singer-songwriter and former Starwood frontman, has been a staple of the picnic since its early days. Two years ago, in a memorable festival moment, he got married on-stage during a Starwood reunion performance.

Mason, 72, has been unable to play music since May, when a serious knee infection required a knee removal and the first of several surgeries that will likely keep him off of his feet until next summer. But, he says, because the Deaf Camp cause and this concert are dear to his heart, he is aiming to play it again this time around with Bailey and Ganson.

“Mack says, ‘We’ll just put you in a chair and carry you onstage!’” Mason told the Aspen Times. “It’ll be the first thing I try.”

The all-day concert is free, but donations are encouraged. All proceeds go to the Aspen Camp. One of the oldest nonprofits in the area, the Aspen Camp offers programming for adults, children and family members of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals — including ski weeks to backpacking trips to American Sign Language classes.

“Aspen Camp is the only year-round camp for the deaf in the world,” the camp’s D.J. Monahan told the Snowmass Sun at last year’s event. “This benefit will support our operations: Over 60 percent of our campers attend camp on scholarships.”

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