WinterWonderGrass a success — sells out entire weekend |

WinterWonderGrass a success — sells out entire weekend

Billy Strings performs Saturday night on the Main Stage at WinterWonderGrass in Squaw Valley.
Ming Poon Photography

WinterWonderGrass wowed locals and visitors to the area the past weekend with exceptional entertainment. The outdoor bluegrass festival returned for its fifth year, and it was a sellout. The event was full of good vibes, smiles and great music.

Walking into the festival late Friday night, it was a bit overwhelming not knowing what to expect. The atmosphere of the place is unreal. You have to take a minute and take in the sight of the main stage with the magnificent mountains in the background. Then once you’re done enjoying the sights, it’s time to enjoy the party.

The great experience comes from the people. The people behind the scenes, people working during the festival and the attendees all contribute to the good times. Everyone working was very pleasant and happy to be there. The security guards were friendly, vendors in every booth had great customer service and everyone in the merch tent was delightful and helpful.

A big part of the festivities is welcoming children to be included on the fun. Anywhere you look around, there are kids enjoying themselves. There’d be kids eating ice cream in the food court, playing cornhole where there were games set up, or you’d find them near the main stage, dancing, maybe splashing in some puddles or sitting atop a tall person’s shoulders to get a better view. There was a Kids Zone set up to entertain the children. There were arts and crafts inside the zone and toys to play with outside, where many were trying to Hula Hoop. One local woman said it was the perfect event to bring her kids to. Michael Welle, the director of site operations, when asked about improvements, said they might have to make the Kids Zone larger next year.

Welle said during a panel: “We kind of cracked this little bit of a code with an event with this type of atmosphere that the parents strive and yearn for.”

Mother Nature set the theme for the weekend. With the sunshine blasting down, people were in great spirits. Staying warm during the day was not a problem. In fact, It was so warm that a long-sleeve shirt was uncomfortable, so luckily there were plenty of T-shirts for sale. It didn’t get cold until the sun went down during the second to last set on the main stage. That’s when the gloves come out. But if you were cold, there were heated tents and outdoor heaters to warm up and places to buy a hot drink. The main trick to staying warm was sticking with the crowd and dancing to the music. After talking with people who went to the other WinterWonderGrasses in Vermont and Colorado, the people of California are lucky to have their date take place late in the winter and after Daylight Saving Time changes to get some more sunshine.

Founder Scotty Stoughton emphasizes sustainability and environmentally friendly options, and he comes through on that. Each ticket came with an aluminum reusable cup attendees used all weekend. Cups were passed out at the gate for liquor and beer tasting that you needed to save. And when plastic cups were used, they all appeared to be compostable. Stations were set up conveniently for separating waste. The Green Team was out in full force. If you saw a piece of trash on the ground, they were likely right there picking it up. A big kudos goes out to them.

The festival is based around music, and the bands booked for the event are top-notch. While these might not be the types of bands you hear on the radio, these are musicians who are at the top of their craft. There are stellar performances from the moment the festival opens right to the headliner. WWG did a terrific job of booking top talent and variety. The production is top-notch, with quality sound and an amazing light show. Some musicians also played around Squaw Village outside of the festival grounds, which must have been a treat for people who didn’t buy a ticket.

WinterWonderGrass did a great job in it’s fifth year, and appears to be a staple for many years to come. When it was all over, after the last late-night show Sunday, overhearing people having a conversation, one person said something that many probably related with. She said: “This is the best festival I’ve ever been to.”

Email Kyler Klix at

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