Avon festival attracts thousands | VailDaily.com

Avon festival attracts thousands

Skin the Rabbit picks their way to the hearts of hundreds in the Pickin' Perch tent at WInterWonderGrass in Avon on Sunday. Sunday marked the last day of libations and music for the festival with Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds,Dustbowl Revival, Nahko and Medicine for the People as well as Greensky Bluegrass showing up to elevate the scene at this year's WinterWonderGrass festival.

AVON — Warmer temperatures and a beautiful sunsets greeted festivalgoers at the WinterWonderGrass Festival over the weekend.

The three-day festival at Nottingham Park has become one of Avon's signature events, attracting thousands and selling out hotels in the area. As of Friday, this year's edition looked to be on pace to surpass previous years. In terms of attendance, organizers logged 9 percent growth of ticket sales compared to last year at the beginning of this week and that number continued to rise in the days leading up to the event.

"We love the demographic this event brings to town," said Richard Wheelocl, owner of Avon-based business Agave. "It keeps us busy with an influx of great people."

WEATHER NO MATCH

“We love the demographic this event brings to town ... It keeps us busy with an influx of great people.”Richard WheeloclOwner, Agave

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The weather can't seem to stop the event. Last year, Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon told the crowd he's played some cold shows in his day, but last year's show was on another level. It was the coldest moment he's ever experienced on a stage, but that didn't stop him from playing at the festival again this year. He helped WinterWonderGrass Festival debut its new tent concept, the Soap Box, on Friday. A cozy coffee bar with a stage, the Soap Box is what a bluegrass venue might look like in Paris.

Meanwhile, a tent packed full of locals enjoyed Eagle County rockers Town Cavalry in the Jamboree Tent. Following Town Cavalry was The Grant Farm, who reached No. 2 on JamBand Radio Charts in 2014 with their album "Plowin' Time." The highly anticipated follow-up to that album is expected to be released in the coming weeks, and The Grant Farm performances on Friday night previewed all that material for an excited audience.

Attending WinterWonderGrass Festival for the first time, bluegrass star Peter Rowan said he was loving the festival on Friday night.

"I'm loving the ambiance here," he said. "It's a really great crowd."

CRAFT BREW AND ROOTS MUSIC

After testing out the event in Edwards four years ago, WinterWonderGrass Festival founder Scotty Stoughton immediately saw the craft brew and roots music festival was ready for a bigger venue. Avon Councilman Jake Wolf helped bring it to Nottingham Park, where it has become that venue's most anticipated winter event.

Stoughton has scaled the event out to the Lake Tahoe area, as well, where a WinterWonderGrass Festival has also become a success.

Playing the Avon festival for the first time this year, Wisconsin-based Horseshoes & Hand Grenades got a taste of WinterWonderGrass Festival in Tahoe first. When Stevens Point, Wisconsin, residents Rob and Anne Rifleman found out Horseshoes & Hand Grenades were also playing the Avon festival this year, the deal was sealed for planning another visit.

"We came here last year during WinterWonderGrass Festival and had a great time, when we heard (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades) were playing we knew we had to come back," Anne Rifleman said. "We basically watched that band grow up."

The couple has been listening to bluegrass music for decades, and attended Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 1988.

These days, they find themselves coming back to Colorado more and more.

"We're also here to ski Beaver Creek," Rifleman said.

Wolf said it's people like the Riflemans who make WinterWonderGrass Festival so special.

"The more I enjoy this event every year, the more I feel it really is the exact type of event that serves the demographic of visitors looking to enjoy Avon and locals who have a desire to have more events like this in their back yard," Wolf said.

The festival continues through Sunday at Nottingham Park, starting at 2 p.m. each day.