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WinterWonderGrass Lives up to its Billing in Their Inaugural Event at Stratton Mountain

All About Apres, apres-ski, Fruition, Mountain Music festivals, Railroad Earth, Rich Stoner, Scotty Stoughton, ski, skiing, snowboarding, Stratton Mountain Resort, The Infamous Stringdusters, WinterWonderGrass -

WinterWonderGrass Lives up to its Billing in Their Inaugural Event at Stratton Mountain

Having covered WinterWonderGrass in the past for other publications, I have always been stoked on their format of combining the mountain setting with craft beer and bluegrass music. The idea that it is held yearly at such iconic locations as Steamboat and Squaw only adds to the allure. So when, this summer, WWG announced that it was coming to Stratton Mountain, a ski resort in southern Vermont that I spend plenty of time at yearly, I knew instantly that I just had to attend. Fast forward to the fall when I met the festival's founder, Scotty Stoughton, at a media event in New York City for Alterra and he asked if I'd be down to check it out, there was little twisting of my arm. I was all in! From that point on, as Tom Petty once said, "the waiting is the hardest part." That media event was back in September and this past weekend was the inaugural WinterWonderGrass at Stratton. Let's just say, good things come to those who wait. From the venue, to the hospitality, to the music itself, this showcase of mountain, brews and music lived up to its billing over delivering on so many levels. 

Stratton Mountain Resort, All About Apres

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After getting in our first tracks of the season on Saturday, we capped off a great day of skiing by making our way over to Lot 1 at Stratton to take in the festivities. One of the great parts of Stratton is the village at the base so I was kind of curious when I heard that they were holding it across the street from there, but believe me, it worked. Based on the layout that included a main stage and three sizable side tents, where bands played, along with the VIP section and multiple vendors,this lot was more than accommodating and certainly served its purpose. As we all walked in to the sounds of live music on the main stage, a beer tasting event located in the side tents and people playing cornhole, I instantly felt at home. One small caveat, I had my two little daughters with in tow. My oldest was still on the mountain, determined to get the last chair up despite mommy and daddy's drive to get to the beer sampling before it closed at 5 pm. The little ones were over skiing for the day, though, and excited about the Kids Zone that we had pumped up in their minds all day.

WinterWonderGrass Stratton Mountain

Having been to many festivals, these areas are becoming the norm as even organizers begin to realize that there are a lot of people who have children and also like to actually have a social life. However, despite dedicated activities for children becoming a common occurrence, I have never quite seen one like this. There were a multitude, and I do mean multitude, of activities that kept my children occupied for hours on end. Even my ten year old had a blast once she finally arrived from here first chair to last chair ski day. And aside from the activities, the staff working the tent was incredible, treating the girls as if they were their own and making them feel right at home. Honestly, my wife and I could have left and gone out to dinner and the girls would have never known. It's this type of hospitality that makes mommy and daddy really happy on so many levels, the least of which was that we could wander around the beer tasting without any concerns. 

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14th Star Brewing, WinterWonderGrass, Stratton Mountain Resort

I wasn't too sure what to expect when it came to the beer tasting component of WinterWonderGrass. Despite their tagline being Music, Brews and Mountains, I assumed that the brews part was really just an add on to the main event. I could not have been more wrong. This was not a, "hey come try some of these beers," kind of thing but rather an integral part of the the entire festival and its culture. I chatted with so many people who were craft beer lovers like me and were there to sample the goods as much as they were there to listen to the music. Who could blame them? With major players in the craft beer world like Lawson's Finest Liquids, brewers of the infamous Sip of Sunshine, and 14th Star Brewing whose Tribute is also widely recognized as a well balanced double IPA, people definitely got their money's worth. It was exciting to sample beers that are super hard to find, like Lawson's Fayston Maple Imperial Stout which seemed sweet and innocent as it tantalized my taste buds with maple syrupy deliciousness. That is until it turned around and smacked me right in the face with its 10.1 abv. Good thing I didn't get to that one until the end, otherwise I would have missed the main attraction which was definitely the music.

Saints and Liars, WinterWonderGrass, Stratton Mountain Resort Fiddlehead G-Run, WinterWonderGrass, Stratton Mountain Resort

Full disclosure, I don't know too many bluegrass bands and heading into WinterWonderGrass I only heard of two of the bands that were playing, Fruition and Saints and Liars, both of whom I have seen before during some fun apres-ski sessions at Mount Snow and Stratton Mountain. But, let's just say that I left a big fan for two reasons, the music itself and the people who follow it. Aside from the two aforementioned bands, who killed it on stage, I also really dug the headliners, The Infamous Stringdusters and Railroad Earth. All the music is relatable, fun and just like a spring day in my own backyard. I was seriously ready to bust out the cornhole boards, throw some animal on my smoker and have a big ol' party. Oh wait, I was already at one and the people that I was with, although mostly strangers were some of the nicest people that I have ever met. 

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, WinterWonderGrass, Stratton Mountain Resort

Chatting with people from places as far away as Squaw in California and Bozeman, Montana it was like being around old friends. Maybe it was the beer or the fresh mountain air but I'd like to believe that everyone was just really friendly and happy to be there. Honestly, how could they not? WinterWonderGrass is as advertised! Scotty Stoughton and his crew really do it right, covering all of their bases and putting on, hands down, one of the best music festivals that I have ever attended. 

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