What to expect as WinterWonderGrass returns to Steamboat this weekend | SteamboatToday.com

What to expect as WinterWonderGrass returns to Steamboat this weekend

Over three days and four stages, the WinterWonderGrass festival will bring more than 5,000 attendees and 25 bands to Steamboat.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It takes a certain kind of fan to stand in subzero temps for 10 hours — all for the love of bluegrass.

And this weekend, bluegrass will be in the Steamboat Springs’ spotlight as the 2018 WinterWonderGrass festival kicks off all over town.

“This festival is so unique and therefore incredibly special,” said Anders Beck, with Greensky Bluegrass. “It's a testament to Colorado and the music fans here. In a world where everything seems to be getting more and more homogenized and gentrified, WinterWonderGrass is decidedly not that festival.”

Scotty Stoughton, founder of WinterWonderGrass, said it was created with the intention to create a festival rooted in authenticity and people — musicians, fans and the community.

During three days on four stages, the WinterWonderGrass festival will bring more than 5,000 attendees and 25 bands to Steamboat.

Regional and local artists who will be performing include Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Elephant Revival and Leftover Salmon. Additional artists include Fruition, Travelin McCourys, Lil' Smokies, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Jon Stickley Trio, Billy Strings and Trout Steak Revival, to name a few.

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"We are working hard year round to build much more than a festival,” said Stoughton. “Our desire is to curate a space that can inspire true connection, new conversation, a place to bring young and old together and reignite kinship. This event is not for you, it’s from you."

The festival kicked off Thursday with a free concert at the Gondola base area that featured Trout Steak Revival and Liver Down by the River.

Both the upper and lower sections of Steamboat Ski Area’s Knoll Parking Lots, located on Mount Werner Circle near the Gondola Transportation Center, are closed until Feb. 28 to accommodate festival tents.

The ski area will continue to offer free parking in the Meadows Parking Lot and paid parking in the Gondola Square parking structure. During this time, shuttle service from the Meadows lot will begin at 6 a.m., and ski area employees, festival participants and skiers and snowboarders are encouraged to carpool or take public transportation during the lot closures.

No overnight parking is available in the Meadows lot during the festival. Owners will be responsible for towed vehicles.

One of the new features of the festival this year will be daily Public Pick shows, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in The Steamboat Grand’s Burgess Creek Ballroom, meant to further integrate music and community by giving an opportunity for friends and family of all ages to join WWG artists in an informal, unplugged musical collaboration.

Fans can bring their instruments and listen to the stories behind the songs. Saturday’s Public Pick will feature musicians Tyler Grant, Jon Stickley, Andy Thorn, Aly Kral, Amanda B. Grapes, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys. Sunday will feature TallGrass, Jay Roemer, Andy Thorn and Bridget Law.

Always full of surprises, WinterWonderGrass will also have "pop-up" bluegrass jams on the mountain from Noon to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Rendezvous deck. These will be free ski-in and ski-out shows.

Attendees must have a lift ticket to access these shows. Saturday will feature music by The Wooks, and Pixie and the PartyGrass Boys will be performing on Sunday.

"Part of what makes WWG so magical is our choice of talent," Stoughton said. "We are putting these acts up multiple days so they can enjoy the slopes and western hospitality of Steamboat, not to mention the spontaneous jams that unfold throughout the weekend."

Continuing the festival into the night will be the Grass After Dark late night shows at various venues, including Schmiggity's, the Chief Theater, The Steamboat Grand’s main ballroom, Bear River Grill and Thunderhead Lodge at the top of the gondola. Tickets to these shows were sold separately and there are a few tickets left.

More than just a music festival, WinterWonderGrass is also known for its innovative brews, featuring 24 Colorado craft brewers as well as ciders, wineries and distilleries.

And when organizers Stoughton, Michael Welle and Jennifer Brazill, marketing and brand manager, created WinterWonderGrass they intended to align their efforts with local charitable organizations each year, focusing on music education, environmental protection and disaster relief.

This year, the festival have designated Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Yampatika, Yampa Valley Autism Program and Partners in Routt County as the beneficiaries of donations for $1 of each WinterWonderGrass ticket sold.

Last year, WinterWonderGrass donated $2,068 to Yampatika and $1,506 to Routt County United Way. In addition, there was $8,000 raised for Partners in Routt County through a Steamboat Unplugged event.

"Since the final day of the inaugural WWG Steamboat last season, I have longed for a return," Stoughton said. "We all left the community with new and deep relationships, a vast understanding of the spirit of the people of Steamboat and wide eyes for a long-term partnership.

“It's been a year of bragging about how incredibly supportive the entire community of Steamboat Springs has been to us and a year of planning on how we can raise the bar for our new family," Stoughton added.

So put your phone away — the battery will die from the cold anyways —reconnect and celebrate a weekend of music, mesmerizing landscapes, snow and a sense of community unlike anywhere else.

Snow flurries or sunny skies, Explore Steamboat has created the 2018 WinterWonderGuide, so you're ready for each show.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@steamboattoday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1.

For those who haven’t bought tickets, they can still see WWG artists at:

  • Public Pick Shows
  • 2 p.m. on Thursday for the free Trout Steak Revival and Liver Down by the River show in Gondola Square
  • Late nights around town (Grass After Dark)