WinterWonderGrass celebrates 10th anniversary with super jam and osprey |

WinterWonderGrass celebrates 10th anniversary with super jam and osprey

Leftover Salmon closes out the WinterWonderGrass main stage in the Upper Knoll Lot in Steamboat Springs in 2018. Leftover Salmon will once again perform at this year’s WinterWonderGrass, scheduled to take the main stage from 8:25-10 p.m. Saturday, March 4.
Katie Berning/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

Ahead of the 10th anniversary of the WinterWonderGrass music and beer festival, musician Kyle Tuttle was on his porch in Nashville, Tennessee, playing his banjo in sandals and a T-shirt.

“It’s a far cry from what I’ll be experiencing there,” Tuttle said. “Trying to soak up this warmth to the bone so that I can carry it with me to Steamboat.”

When Scotty Stoughton, a Steamboat resident and founder of WinterWonderGrass, first envisioned a music festival exposed to the elements, he feared the snow and cold would derail the event. He quickly learned that music-lovers are tough, and the waves of snowfall would be part of what makes the festivals special.

“Those willing to endure the elements for their medicine, to prepare for Mother Nature’s contribution, genuinely are the heartiest souls,” Stoughton wrote in a news release. “The energy they bring, the commitment to the mountain culture, the kids, the grandparents, all for one and one for all. There is really nothing quite like it.”

Tuttle knows all about the atmosphere Stoughton described after having performed at several WinterWonderGrass festivals in Steamboat.

“You see a lot of the same people year after year at that event, and everyone’s sort of braving the elements together,” Tuttle said. “The musicians are freezing, the fans are freezing, the vendors are freezing but everyone’s having a great time.”

Tuttle is an International Banjo Champion and a member of Molly Tuttle’s (no relation) band Golden Highway, which won a grammy for best bluegrass album of 2022 for the album “Crooked Tree.” But Tuttle says next week he’ll be an “artist at-large” in Steamboat and will play as sort of a musical mercenary — lending his banjo to whichever musicians need it. He will also play two sets with Lindsay Lou and host one of the Grass After Dark events on Saturday, March 4.

In celebrating the 10-year anniversary of WinterWonderGrass, the festival will be headlined by the two original headliners from the first festival in 2013 — Greensky Bluegrass and the Infamous Stringdusters.

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The first WinterWonderGrass was a single-day event that attracted about 1,500 people but has grown into a three-day festival that brings in over 5,000 music lovers from all over. 

While many of this year’s acts have performed at WinterWonderGrass before, 2023 also features newcomers Paul Cauthen, The Lone Bellow, Neal Francis, John Mailander, Tenth Mountain Division, Sicard Hollow, Tray Wellington Band, Mama Magnolia, Pick & Howl and Saints & Liars.

What’s new at WinterWonderGrass in 2023?
  • Kids Zone will be bigger and better than ever.
  • Nonprofit partners are Routt County United Way and LiftUp of Routt County.
  • Limited edition merchandise.
  • New site with bigger side stages, heated tents and more.

“Scotty always prides himself on expanding the sound that is WinterWonderGrass,” said Carly Speno, the festival’s marketing director and Stoughton’s niece. “It’s not just a bluegrass festival, but it’s a festival to dip your toes into genres that you wouldn’t quite have listened to before.”

On Saturday night there will be a “super jam” at the Upper Knoll Parking Lot to honor the 10-year anniversary and celebrate the festival’s staff, crew, attendees and the whole WinterWonderGrass community.

“That will be really fun,” Speno said. “It will have a ton of guest artists come out and join that super jam.”

Speno said every year the festival’s team chooses an animal as sort of a mascot, and with this year being the 10-year anniversary they chose the osprey to honor the relationship between WinterWonderGrass and Steamboat.

“The osprey mates for life,” Speno said. “It’s a really deep meaning for Steamboat in particular and kind of reflects our partnership with Steamboat, the community and the Steamboat Resort.”

The Infamous Stringdusters play at The Steamboat Grand ballroom in 2019. The band headlined the original WinterWonderGrass and will headline the festival’s 10-year anniversary this year, along with other original headliner Greensky Bluegrass. The Infamous Stringdusters are scheduled to perform from 8:25-10 p.m. Friday, March 3, on the festival’s main stage.
Katie Berning/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

Though tickets for WinterWonderGrass typically sell out before the event, general admission three-day tickets are still available as of Thursday, Feb. 23.

Single-day tickets are available for Friday, March 3, and Sunday, March 5, but Saturday’s single-day passes are on a waitlist, however, as are VIP tickets.

A free show will kick off the festival on Thursday, March 2, at the base of Steamboat Resort where Trout Steak Revival will perform from 2-5 p.m., followed by the Mountain Top Dinner at Thunderhead Lodge that features food and an intimate set by Big Richard. However, tickets to the dinner are on a waitlist.

Speno said she looks forward to another 10 years in Steamboat, which she describes as a magical place.

“We all feel like family,” Speno said. “We’re here for one another, we have each other’s backs, we have the backs of the attendees, we’re such a supportive and close-knit group.”

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