Welcome to WinterWonderGrass 2019 in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Welcome to WinterWonderGrass 2019 in Steamboat Springs

Buffalo Commons mandolin player Eric Baker, middle, joins guitarist and lead singer Tyree Woods, left, and fiddle player Randy Kelley, right, as the Steamboat Springs band warms up the crowd at the base of Steamboat Resort on Thursday afternoon. The local band was the first to take the stage for this year’s WinterWonderGrass music festival, which will feature a number top bands from around the country throughout the weekend.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Community-based bluegrass festival WinterWonderGrass is back for its third run in Steamboat Springs.

The festival has the same core and values as when it began in an Edwards parking lot in 2013, growing and evolving each year.

“We’ve taken some things that we heard from the audience, and we’ve used that information to make them better,” said WinterWonderGrass founder Scotty Stoughton.

If you go

Friday, Feb. 22
• 2:40 to 3:40 p.m. Lindsey Lou
• 4:20 to 5:35 p.m. Jeff Austin Band
• 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. Fruition
• 8:25 to 10 p.m. Railroad Earth

Saturday, Feb. 23
• 2:40 to 3:40 p.m. River Whyless
• 4:20 to 5:35 p.m. The Lil Smokies
• 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. The California Honeydrops
• 8:25 to 10 p.m. Trampled by Turtles

Sunday, Feb. 24
• 2 to 3:15 p.m. Della Mae With Bonnie Paine
• 3:55 to 5:10 p.m. Shook Twins
• 5:50 to 7:20 p.m. Billy Strings
• 8 to 9:30 p.m. The Infamous Stringdusters

Shows are on the main stage in Knoll Parking Lot unless otherwise noted. View the complete schedule, including secondary stages, Grass After Dark and pop-up shows at WinterWonderGrass.com/steamboat-lineup.

Adjustments for the festival design include entrances and exits, bathroom locations, additions of food vendors and several new faces and activities. More than 60 staff members for WonderGrass, plus volunteers, worked to set up the festival, its beer halls, food trucks and stands, kids zone and more.

“It’s really important to acknowledge and appreciate our entire WonderGrass team,” Stoughton said.

There are 15 bands that will be playing in the festival lineup for the first time. WonderGrass opened with a Welcome Picks concert, featuring Steamboat bluegrass band Buffalo Commons, on Thursday and will close on Sunday night with a performance by The Infamous Stringdusters.

“It’s been super cool to watch their enthusiasm, and present them the opportunity to perform,” Stoughton said.

WinterWonderWomen will make its world debut on Saturday. The band is led by Bridget Law on fiddle, Megan Letts on keys and vocal arrangement and Tiffany Christopher on guitar. Other women playing in the festival will rotate into three sets throughout the weekend.

“All the gals are really excited to collaborate,” said Law, of Elephant Revival and WonderGrass staff. “This all-female bluegrass band bodes to be a supportive, co-creative, feminine energy family in which we’re all sharing the spotlight and lifting each other up, so we all shine brighter.”

“In a historically male-dominated genre, it’s been great to watch these artists dominate,” Stoughton said. “Their fearless leader, Bridget, absolutely crushes the fiddle, the spirit and the intention.”

This year also marks WonderGrass’ first official yoga events in Steamboat at Sundance Studio. The 90-minute YogaGrass class, taught by Talaya Thomas, includes breath work and meditation set to bluegrass tunes and is intended to be down to earth and welcoming to people at all levels of experience.

“Yoga has always been part of WinterWonderGrass, but quietly,” Stoughton said. “We’re going to see if we can inspire people to some stretches.”

The Lil Smokies perform at 4:20 p.m. Saturday on the Main Stage in the Upper Knoll Lot in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by Katie Berning)

Sustainability has been an element of the festival since its start, the ideal goal being zero waste. In 2018, the event diverted about 80 percent of its waste from landfills, according to Stoughton.

“Our goal is be leaders in the actual sustainability movement. Not to just green-wash things, but to deeply commit to leading by example by limiting almost all single-use plastic and to feed the crew locally and organically,” Stoughton said. “We have improvements to make, but our partnership with Marina McCoy and Waste-Free Earth has led us to many festival greening innovations.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles and cups to fill at the free water stations.

Wondergrass also is including an educational initiative as part of its sustainability efforts.

“I think we’re all wanting to be green, but there’s a lot of conflicting information out there,” Stoughton said.

Postcards printed with straightforward facts about how to be greener will be found throughout the festival.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do is inspire attendees to make individual choices to be more sustainable: to bring reusable utensils with you, to have conversations with friends, to make small efforts that actually have a really huge ripple effect,” said media and partnerships manager Hilary Gleason. “WinterWonderGrass is an incredible platform for that.”

Opting to take public transport to the event is one of the best ways to start making that effort, and leaving cars parked at home means less traffic and waiting for everyone at and around the festival. Designated drivers get free soda or coffee at the festival, and the city’s free bus system runs consistently until the wee hours of the morning.

In addition to the events within the festival gates, there are Public Picks from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at The Steamboat Grand. Bridget Law will host several guest bands including Wood Belly and the Sweet Lillies. Public Picks are free to attend and alcohol free, and complimentary instrument tune-ups will be offered.

There are also on-mountain pop-up shows from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Steamboat Resort’s Taco Beast snowcat restaurant will also be in attendance.

Billy Strings plays 5:50 p.m. Sunday on the the Main Stage at WinterWonderGrass in Upper Knoll Lot in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by Katie Berning)

Another WonderGrass event, the private house concert “Steamboat Unplugged,” benefitted local youth mentoring nonprofit Partners in Routt County. A portion of each general festival ticket sale was donated to a nonprofit of the buyer’s choosing, and in December, $10 from each ticket went to efforts fighting California wildfires.

Free Pop Up Shows

Saturday, Feb. 23
What: Pixie & The Partygrass Boys
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Bashor Deck, Steamboat Resort, 2305 Mount Werner Circle

Sunday, Feb. 24
What: Chain Station
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Bashor Deck, Steamboat Resort, 2305 Mount Werner Circle

“It’s an important part of our festival, giving back as much as we can,” Stoughton said.

Grass After Dark late-night shows, which feature festival bands, are scheduled for all across town, and various local businesses will be hosting bluegrass-related events throughout the weekend.

“It’s the community — that’s what it’s all about for us,” Stoughton said.

To reach Julia Ben-Asher, call 970-871-4229 or email jbenasher@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @JuliaBenAsher.

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