January 2018 Back Stage 9

Music festivals and Colorado go together like hops and IPA’s. As the world-famous Telluride Bluegrass Festival prepares for a 45th annual event, one could argue that Colorado is the birthplace of the modern day music festival. While most of these multi-day music parties take place under the warm summer sun, Winter Wondergrass has taken a uniquely Colorado approach, and friends, it is working.

Imagine charging through Steamboat’s champagne powder by day, then sampling craft beer and jamming out with names like; Leftover Salmon, Yonder Mountain String Band and Greensky Bluegrass, through the afternoon and night. For thousands of festival goers, that is heaven on earth.  On the eve of their sixth annual event, which will be held February 23-25 in Steamboat Springs, I had a chance to catch up with WWG’s founder, Scotty Stoughton.

AM: There are literally thousands of music festivals across the country. Many fail before launch, most that do launch, never see a second year. What is the secret sauce that has contributed to five consecutive sold-out years?

SS:  At our core, Winter Wondergrass hasn’t been about throwing a party, but about creating a positive and inspiring space where we can bring our kids, share with our elders, connect with people from around the country, and give to the greater goals of re-engaging the human spirit. I’m so proud of our team, which works year-round to identify ways to raise the guest experience. Additionally, we only use products we consume ourselves, no Red Bull, no artificial sodas. Local foods, libations and products are the norm at WWG.

AM: Aside from running WWG (Steamboat, Tahoe) and Bonfire Productions, you are also a musician yourself. How has that experience played out with your relationship to the artists you book for WWG?

SS: While many of the WWG acts have “made it” professionally speaking, others are still cutting their teeth, and almost all of them are still road warriors. As a musician who has toured across the country in a cold van, playing countless empty rooms, booked the shows, carried