In a way, the WinterWonderGrass Festival is coming home.
The music festival that started seven years ago, running annually in Colorado and California, is heading to Vermont for its east coast inauguration, where the seeds for its concept were originally planted.
“I learned to ski (in Vermont) and never forgot it,” founder and producer Scott Stoughton said. “Vermont really influenced my life and my appreciation for the mountains and open space and community. It felt right to come back to my roots.”
The three-day music festival runs Friday to Sunday, Dec. 14-16, at Stratton Mountain, packed with a variety of bands, craft brews, a kids zone, “Grass after Dark” late night shows, and an afternoon jam session where patrons are welcome to bring an instrument.
“I remember seeing my parents gather at the end of the day with their friends drinking a beer, some guy picking music in the corner, an open barbecue pit, and just reflecting on the day and the joy and simplicity of outdoor activities,” Stoughton said about the idea for the festival, and the intimate setting he wanted to create with it.
“My goal with this festival is bringing back those elements of connecting,” he said. “Not looking down at your phone but creating a space to reconnect.”
There might not be an obvious connection between the arts and sports, but Stoughton says they tie together naturally.
“I think people get inspired when they’re in places that provide a respite from their day,” he said. “If you’re going down the mountain skiing or snowboarding, whatever it is, you’re kind of releasing and finding a space for personal growth, and I think music brings the same thing. It’s your own expression, your own ability to release and get back to the primal elements.”
A musician himself, formerly with the band Sucker, you can find him over the weekend joining in with some of the many bands playing, which include The Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition, Jeff Austin Band, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Ghost of Paul Revere, Saints & Liars, Lindsay Lou, and Pappy Biondo + Charlie Rose. The music lineup is a little different in all three festival locations but Stoughton says, “the spirit is very much the same.”
“I think you could sum it up with community,” Stoughton said. “All the artists I book for their talent, but also their desire to actually be in the community and hang out for a couple days, go skiing, meet people for coffee. These artists are really committed to their craft and their music but also spreading a communal message, and that’s the most important thing for us in terms of bringing in artists. And to shine the light back on this incredible area. It’s great for the economy, and just for the soul.”