Steamboat Springs If the speed with which tickets have disappeared is any indication, WinterWonderGrass Music and Brew Festival’s inaugural appearance in Steamboat Springs is looking to be a packed out event.
The festival, slated for Feb. 23 through 26, has officially sold out, and according to lodging forecasts from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, between 11,000 and 15,000 visitors are expected in town for the event.
As a result, both the upper and lower sections of Steamboat Ski Area’s Knoll Parking Lots, located on Mount Werner Circle near the Gondola Transportation Center, will be closed Feb. 21 through 28 to accommodate festival tents, according to a news release from the ski area.
The resort 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 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, the ski area said.
Despite what will almost certainly be a crowded weekend in Steamboat, the Chamber sees the event as nothing but a positive.
“If the pace at which the WinterWonderGrass tickets sold out is any indication of the impact this event will have on Steamboat Springs, I hope we can count on the event taking place here for years to come,” said Kara Stoller, Chamber CEO. “With this sold out event, we will undoubtedly see an increase in visitation. The uniqueness of WinterWonderGrass is that it offers locals the chance to attend, fostering a welcoming relationship between the event organizers, out-of-town attendees and locals.
“Additionally, the event organizers have created a dynamic schedule which will move people from the base area to the Knoll lot (festival site) to downtown venues, offering a chance for nearly all areas of town to benefit.”
According to festival organizers, the event will offer something for most everyone.
“This community gathering focuses on sustainability, local nonprofits, kids experiences and support of the arts, while planting the seed for long-term growth into the premier winter bluegrass, roots music and beer festivals in the country,” according to the WinterWonderGrass website.
The festival makes its first appearance in Steamboat following four consecutive sold-out turns in the Vail Valley and offers national, regional and local bluegrass and acoustic roots music, Colorado craft beers, wines, spirits and local foods.
Scotty Stoughton, founder of WinterWonderGrass, said he feels Steamboat, with its rich heritage of community and friendly mountain atmosphere, is the "perfect new home” for the festival he conceived.
"I love Steamboat," Stoughton said. "I'm a musician, myself, and I played lots of venues in Steamboat back in the '90s, and it's great to have the chance to reconnect with so many people. We've been so honored and overwhelmed by the local response."
He added the idea of WinterWonderGrass was born out of a desire to produce an "authentic, honest" music festival.
"The trend for festivals now is to go bigger and bigger," he said, adding that his goal was to instead focus on an authentic festival in a small town, something centered around people rather than the sponsors.
"What we're going for is a festival that people can come to and leave feeling good," he said.
Following the Thursday kickoff celebration — set for 2 to 5 p.m. Feb. 23 in Gondola Square and featuring Head for the Hills and Gipsy Moon — the festival will continue through Feb. 26 with bands including Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Elephant Revival, The Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition, The California Honeydrops, The Lil’ Smokies, Brothers Comatose, Cabinet, Billy Strings, Grant Farm, Dead Horses, Kitchen Dwellers, Drunken Hearts, Rapidgrass, Old Salt Union, Old Town Pickers, Pickin’ on the Dead, WWG Allstars, Missed the Boad, Colin Hotz and Co. and Jay Roemer.
Food vendors will include Moe’s BBQ, Moe’s Fish House, Skull Creek Greek, Super Heady Tacos, Go Nuts Mini-Donuts and Nomad Street Cuisine
For a complete festival lineup, including venues and times, visit winterwondergrass.com/2017-schedule.
To reach Jim Patterson, call 970-871-4208, email jpatterson@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JimPatterson15