Photo by JohnRyan Lockman

Photo by JohnRyan Lockman

WinterWonderGrass is a unique take on a mountain music festival. Beginning last year and happening again this weekend, February 21-23, WWG is the culmination of a passion for the root of music—the organic essence that accompanies a festival when it’s stripped down of its commercial and superficial aspects and returned to the foundation of what makes a festival great.

The three day gathering will bring in bluegrass artists like Elephant Revival, Head for the Hills, Leftover Salmon, Greensky Bluegrass, Fruition and more to Nottingham Park in Avon, Colorado.

Last year’s event saw overwhelmingly positive responses and this year’s boasts a bigger venue, more Colorado-grown vendors and two larger heated beer halls. Everything from down home BBQ to vegetarian options is available for eats. This year’s event also brings sustainability into the mix, with reusable beer mugs (complimentary with a 3-day pass) and other eco-friendly products from venues.

I was lucky enough to chat with the man behind the creation—Scott “Scotty” Stoughton–whose overwhelming passion for this project is beyond apparent. One conversation with him about WinterWonderGrass and you’re suddenly transported to the snowy mountains, local-Colorado craft brew in hand, jamming to the strums and hums of your favorite bluegrass tune without a care in the world. Read the interview below as he describes–with palpable excitement–how his vision came to life.

Photo by Dylan Langille

Photo by Dylan Langille

303 Magazine: What did you picture when you imagined the idea for WinterWonderGrass?

Scott Stoughton: After living in Colorado for 15 years, it was really the culmination of working small events, designing artwork and just being in the business that really made me want to do this. This festival exemplifies everything people are drawn to about Colorado. It’s a tribal gathering of roots music surrounded by beautiful mountains and going along with the scenery is the local Colorado products we use.

Yes, explain a bit more about that.

Well, we’re using only products local to Colorado because this festival is a great place to exhibit these awesome products. I mean, we’re all in Colorado for a reason—we might as well show off the products we love!

How did you improve on last year’s festival?

Well, to be quite honest, I’ve never had my ass handed to me quite like that. We sold out tickets and had more walk-ups than we anticipated so we were very understaffed. People had to wait in lines for food and drinks but even so the reviews were 99.9% positive, which was amazing.

This year we have more space, more room in the heated beer halls and more vendors. Everyone will have the opportunity to dance in the snow. The location is better—easier access. The number one thing in my mind is fan experience and fan safety. We don’t want anyone drinking and driving which is why we made transportation so easy. We want everyone to have fun and just rage out to great music.

How’d you choose the Colorado brands for the festival?

Well, I’d never done a brew event before and the ones that were on last year’s bill came back and we added even more–now we’re at fifteen different brewers, I believe. We also asked our fans via social media to pick vendors as well as artists they would like to see at this year’s WWG.

I’ve also been driven to dig into the Colorado distillery spectrum. It’s really fun to talk about this idea because I’ve gotten no corporate sponsorships so basically all of these brewers and distillers listened to me go on and on about this idea like I’m doing right now with you and, because I’m so passionate about it, it really made them want to jump on board too. And they’re pumped about it!

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Photo by Michael Liggett

I mean everything down to the mixers is Rocky Mountain All Natural Sodas, so you won’t find a Coke or Pepsi here. People can get over not having those brands for one weekend so we can all celebrate Colorado.

Talk a little about how you’re making the festival green and sustainable.

Well first of all there’s the souvenir mug that comes with buying a 3-day pass. They are reusable because we wanted people to have an incentive to not use plastic cups all weekend. Also, there’s a discount on beer for those using the mugs. I really want the community of Avon to think that we left the ground cleaner than before we came!

Haha, exactly! How did you pick the artists for WWG?

I do talent buying and I’m pretty much on first name basis with a lot of the bands playing. Not only did I choose them based on their talent, I really wanted to pick artists based on their character and vibes and them wanting to, you know, hang out with fans in the mountains. These are all people I’d want to hang out with and jam and I really wanted them to be excited to be here.

Who are you most excited to see?

Well, I can’t really play favorites and I’m honestly excited to see them all. There will also be a lot of collaborations that I don’t even know about that I’m excited to see. I just want the music stripped down to its most basic form. I mean, those beer halls get down late night. They just rage and it’s so great.

Thanks, Scotty. Can’t wait for my first WinterWonderGrass!

Thank you! I can’t wait to have everyone here!

There’s still time to grab a ticket to this weekend’s WinterWonderGrass festival. Last chance 3-day GA as well as single day admission and 3-day VIP are still available here.

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