WinterWonderGrass packs up as Steamboat Springs Transit tallies nearly 30K weekend passengers |

WinterWonderGrass packs up as Steamboat Springs Transit tallies nearly 30K weekend passengers

WinterWonderGrass volunteers clean up at the festival. (Photo by Julia Ben-Asher)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The banjos, basses and fiddles are tucked away in their cases. The tents are coming down, and WinterWonderGrass is packing up.

Festival founder Scotty Stoughton said the three-day event sold out 5,000 tickets each day. Festival organizers expected about 5,500 people to come to town with the festival.

Stoughton said that, though some people who purchase tickets don’t turn out, the festival saw less of that this year.

“It was definitely the biggest one,” he said.

The last traces of the festival will be gone this week, with Steamboat Resort’s Knoll parking lots set to reopen for parking Wednesday.

“WinterWonderGrass’ mission, what the fest is all about, really lends itself to being sustainable. As far as the Knoll lot and the festival itself and cleanup go, that is pretty dialed and streamlined,” Steamboat Resort Digital Communications Manager Maren Franciosi said. “We’re really lucky that we work with their teams to get that done.”

On Monday, festival employees were hand sorting recycling, compost and waste headed for the landfill. The fest aims to produce zero waste by minimizing single-use materials, providing attendees with reusable Klean Kanteens and encouraging visitors to make use of those reusable cups.

Most of the festival’s greatest impacts were parking and transit related.

With Steamboat Resort’s Knoll lots out of commission for the festival, cars parked in overflow parking Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Steamboat Springs Transit buses carried 29,438 passengers during the festival weekend, with a peak of almost 12,000 passengers Saturday, according to transit manager Jonathan Flint.

Six extra buses were put into the rotation this weekend during peak demand times.

“It was nice that, if people were left behind, there was another bus right behind them,” Flint said.

This was more passengers than buses carried during the festival weekend last year, but fewer than the record-breaking WinterWonderGrass weekend in 2017. Flint attributed this to the fact that Steamboat Resort’s Meadows Parking Lot shuttle and lodging shuttles ran later during the festival weekend.

“I would say, in general, there was probably a heavier reliance on some form of either shuttle or bus, just not all on the (Steamboat Springs Transit) buses,” he said.

Impacts to public safety also appear minimal. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, Steamboat Ski Patrol and the Steamboat Springs Police Department all said they saw little difference in call volume or types of call in connection with the festival.

“We had very few public safety issues related to the festival,” Steamboat Police Cmdr. Jerry Stabile wrote in an email to Steamboat Pilot & Today. “The only impact that we felt was the additional hours that our people worked at the venue performing extra duty. That cost is covered by the festival organizers, but many of our folks worked on their days off.”

Stoughton said the festival was well received.

“I talked to people that have been here every year, and I talked to people that had come out for the first time from all over the country, and they were just blown away at how warmly they were welcomed in the community and around the site,” he said.

“We’re just super grateful to be able to do this here. We feel so supported by the locals each and every year, … and we look forward to continuing to raise the bar and make this community shine,” he added.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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