Steamboat WonderGuide: 5th WinterWonderGrass festival makes Steamboat home
February 22, 2017
In the mid-'90's, Scotty Stoughton was playing with several bands around Colorado. He jammed at every single Steamboat Springs venue.
"I had a really big spot in my heart for this place," he says.
Two decades later, as a promoter, musician and founder of WinterWonderGrass, Stoughton was looking for a location that would be a better fit for the Colorado section of the festival, which was held in Edwards and then Avon in its first four years. Connections led him and his founding WWG partners, Jennifer Brazill and Michael Welle, back to Steamboat.
"It's a full circle," Stoughton said. "The response (in Steamboat) has been over-the-top positive. It's kind of magical, and we're so grateful. We're so honored to be here."
The festival brings more than 25 bluegrass artists and 20 Colorado breweries to Steamboat through four days. Visitors from more than 40 states will be attending.
The festival is focused on sustainability, local business and community inclusion, offering a family-friendly atmosphere, a kids zone and free admission to those 75 and older. The festival also is partnering with several local nonprofits, including Partners of Routt County, Yampatika, Routt County United Way and Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, as well as senior living community Casey's Pond.
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"This isn't really a party; this is a celebration," Stoughton said. "We want to build a really safe, welcoming atmosphere to everyone — a culture of meeting people, helping people and leaving feeling filled — not feeling haggard.
"We hold every attendee to a really high standard. It's about creating a space for people to live up to their full potential and to honor the artists. We book bands who want to do that, too.
"We want everyone to take care of one another and to look up from your cell phone. Reconnect. Collaborate. People are angry and protesting and certainly have every right to be, but we also want to inspire intelligent, empathetic conversation and reignite people — to be human and a community."
This weekend marks Steamboat's first time hosting the bluegrass festival but likely not the last.