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Tom Rollings, the stage’s initial donor and chief advocate, cuts the ribbon alongside his friend Tim Stang. Photo by August Toevs.

On Saturday, June 3, after an overcast morning of play and performance, Tom Rollings cut a ribbon. 

In doing so, he realized not just a personal goal, but a widely-held communal one over a decade in the making. Saturday’s Picnic in the Park event, filled with performances from local musicians and artists, marked the official dedication of Buena Vista’s new Legacy Stage in McPhelemy Park.  

Heather Rupska, CEO of the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce, declared in a speech that Saturday’s picnic would be remembered by the community for a long time. Her speech was one of many delivered as part of Legacy Stage’s dedication ceremony, which followed the Buena Vista Public Library’s Summer Reading Kick-Off event. The morning’s performers included the educational children’s duo Jeff & Paige as well as the Salida Circus.

Salida Circus performs beside Cottonwood Creek as part of Buena Vista Public Library’s Summer Reading Kick-Off. Photo by August Toevs.

“A project this ambitious is not done overnight,” said Rupska, speaking amidst members of the Buena Vista Board of Trustees, Mayor Libby Fay, Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker, Recreation Special Projects Manager Earl Richmond and community donors crucial to the development of Legacy Stage. The stage had been under construction since August 2022. 

All of the construction for the stage was done by local businesses, including Ark Valley Welding, 2Brothers Concrete and PSQ enterprises. Wrex Harnish, who was named Buena Vista Citizen of the Year in 2018 alongside his wife Bea, personally laid each of the bricks that adorn the area in front of the Legacy Stage. Each brick bears a donor’s name or a dedication to the city or loved ones.

“Each brick down here is your legacy,” explained Rupska, speaking through tears of joy. Through the Leave a Legacy Brick fundraising program, Rupska and the BV Chamber of Commerce raised tens of thousands of dollars to cover construction costs.

“Fourteen, fifteen years ago there were a bunch of performing artists who didn’t have a place to perform,” said Tom Rollings, one of the primary donors behind the stage’s construction. In an effort to provide such a space, Rollings has spent years trying to cultivate a quality space for theatrical and musical performers alike, at times putting up shows in alleyways or “literally on the streets.”

Buena Vista Trustee Cindie Swisher had some words of gratitude for Tom and Colleen Rollings, saying, “Thank you so much to the Rollings family for not letting this vision die.” 

“For hundreds of years, this place was hallowed ground,” said Rollings in a speech, reflecting on the lead-up to Saturday’s celebration. “This is a very special place, it’s a good place, and you are good people. I love you B.V.”