WinterWonderGrass Festival settling in at Steamboat Springs
Stay warm: It’s OK to wear your ski gear, especially since that’s normally the warmest clothing available. Hot Hands are a must, especially the later into the evening it gets. Don’t forget a coozie for your beer.
Get the best spot: Check the schedule in advance and make a plan. If there’s someone you really want to see in a side tent in between acts on the main stage, then feel free to leave the main stage early and get a spot in that side tent. And vice versa — leave the side tent early to get a better spot at the main stage.
Go to an after party: One of the downfalls of WinterWonderGrass when it was in Avon was the lack of on-mountain experiences. Be sure to check out one of the after parties — preferably the ones requiring a late-night gondola ride — for an intimate concert that keeps the party going.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With Scotty Stoughton manning the ship, the WinterWonderGrass Festival in Steamboat Springs is gaining steam after its second year at its new location.
Held Feb. 23-25, WinterWonderGrass — first started in the Vail Valley — hit its sold-out capacity of 5,000 people per day, selling out nearly three months prior to the festival.
After four years in the Vail Valley, the annual winter bluegrass festival is settling into Steamboat Springs — trading the muddy grounds of Avon for a clean parking lot in Steamboat.
There’s been a solid crowd of Vail locals who make the drive up Highway 131 each year for WinterWonderGrass — drawn to the open-air venue, the slopes of Steamboat and various beer tastings.
Thanks to a collaboration between organizers and the folks at Steamboat Resort, late-night after parties on the mountain filled the weekend with entertainment from sun up to sun down.
WinterWonderGrass is a who’s who of bluegrass music — which has taken some turns over the years to become more mainstream. Between the main stage and the three side tents, big hitters like Elephant Revival, Greensky Bluegrass and Leftover Salmon, among others, filled the cold, winter air with the warm tunes of bluegrass.
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, up and comers out of Wisconsin, played four sets within 24 hours — look out for the guy on harmonica when the bluegrass band performs as part of Vail Summer Bluegrass on July Fourth.
The first WinterWonderGrass Colorado festival was staged in Edwards behind the Crazy Mountain Brewery in 2013, and in 2014 it moved to Avon before making Steamboat Springs home base in 2017.
WinterWonderGrass also has a festival in Squaw Valley, California, happening April 6-8.
WinterWonderGrass is a total Colorado festival, bringing together skiing and snowboarding, live music and beer for a weekend.
Every year, I wonder if we are crazy for standing out in the blustering snow late into the night listening to bluegrass music I tend to listen to once a year.
But everyone — from the fans to the musicians — celebrate it for what it is.
Bluegrass is the music of the mountains, and unlike a lot of other musicians, bluegrass sounds better live — in the mountains.
The weekend-long festival is a come-and-go atmosphere — splitting the day between turns on the mountain and jamming near the base. Passes are available by the day or for the whole festival.
WinterWonderGrass organizers are also strong advocated for the environment, promoting a leave no trace message throughout the venue.
If you have never been to WinterWonderGrass, check it out next year — tickets go fast.
The arctic blast we saw at the end of October was just a tease. After a warmish, dry start to November, there isn’t much relief in sight.