Bluegrass, skiing/snowboarding and beer come together once again at the WinterWonderGrass Festival.
The three-day event brings more than 4,000 people to Squaw Valley for a weekend of music and more from March 29-31.
Founder Scotty Stoughton said he is thrilled to bring the festival back to Squaw for its fifth anniversary. WinterWondergrass began in Colorado seven years ago and expanded to add Squaw two years later. This year they added a third location in Vermont.
"We have a great appreciation for the community, and it feels like coming home," Stoughton said. "It's our last show of the year and one the whole team looks forward to."
"The music is better than ever," Stoughton said. "We have some really high caliber artists."
Some of those names are headliners Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles and Leftover Salmon.
Attendees will have the chance to see recent Grammy winners The Travelin' McCourys. The band won the 2019 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.
Local band Dead Winter Carpenters, from North Lake Tahoe, will open the main stage on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The lineup also includes Sam Bush Band, ALO, Fruition, Billy Strings and many more.
WWG sets up a main stage, and three smaller stages in heated tents. The music starts each day at 2 p.m. Late-night shows also take place at nearby indoor venues for an extra charge.
DON'T MISS THIS
With so much going on at the festival, it's easy to miss something. Stoughton said never miss a Sunday show.
"Some of the cooler things happen on Sundays," he said.
A special set, dubbed WinterWonderWomen, will honor the women musicians and highlight all the incredible female talent, Stoughton said. The set is slated for Saturday.
"Don't miss WinterWonderWomen," Stoughton said. "It was a huge hit in Colorado."
And he said to be sure to get there early to catch the bands at the beginning of each day.
"These younger bands are hungry and tear it up," he said. "You walk in at 2 p.m. and you might see the best show of the weekend."
Also, there are "pop-ups" — unannounced sets of music set up around the mountain. People out riding will be able to catch these.
WWG has many accommodations for children, and they allow kids 12 and younger in for free. Families can ski together and enjoy music afterward.
Stoughton said they accommodate children with a kid's zone that has a view of the main stage. When his 5-year-old daughter arrives, she goes to the kid's zone and hangs out and makes new friends.
"We wanted to create a space to give parents a break," he said. "And we want to show kids a gathering focused on community and family, recycling and taking care of the environment."
GRASS AFTER DARK
The party continues once the headliner leaves the main stage. WWG uses the community beyond Squaw to host late-night shows indoors Friday through Sunday. They are held at: The Olympic Village Lodge and The Plaza Bar in Squaw Valley; Alibi Ale Works in Truckee; and Moe's BBQ in Tahoe City.
Stoughton said they have some big shows planned including one with Grammy winners Travelin' McCourys and some other hot up-and-comers.
"I love the late shows," Stoughton said. "It's looser, a little smaller, and a happy place to reconnect with everyone."
Locals are permitted to buy tickets to the late-night shows as well if they don't have a festival pass. Space is limited. Tickets are at https://bit.ly/2UyxMgT.
Stoughton emphasized how important it is to bring the community together and take care of each other. Instead of trying to make WWG bigger, Stoughton said the team puts time and energy into improving the festival.
"We can always go bigger, but that's not our point," he said. "Let's serve the people in this smaller space the best we can and handle their needs in and around the community."
A big part of helping the community comes from using environmentally friendly options. The festival added a shuttle service and encouraged carpooling and public transportation. Trash, composting and recycling are factors that Stoughton emphasizes.
"We really work hard putting the utmost attention into every detail," he said. "We're really reaching the people that resonate with our message. It's like going to a home sports game — everyone is on the same page."
The festival hasn't undergone any major changes since the beginning. Instead, Stoughton said, they are focused on little details that help create a better experience.
"Our ultimate goal is to leave everybody feeling more rested and inspired the days after the festival than they were coming in," he said. "It's about doing all we can to make the experience absolutely perfect."