WinterWonderGrass postponed to April 2021 with same lineup
Launches WWG TV Friday amid canceled event
Music fans will be missing out on a staple of Lake Tahoe this weekend – WinterWonderGrass Squaw Valley (WWG). The festival has been postponed until April 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizers are providing the identical festival lineup they booked for 2020.
Scotty Stoughton, founder of the festival, said he is sharing the collective sorrow of the human race during these times and staying optimistic.
“This shines a light on the fact that we are all connected and we all have a responsibility for one another,” he said. “I’m looking for all the positive threads of this unraveling occurrence.”
Andy Hall, dobro player for The Infamous Stringdusters, wrote his sentiments in an email.
“It’s a heartbreaker to not be in Squaw this weekend with all our music buds and all the fans for sure,” he writes. “So much has changed so fast, it’s hard to wrap your head around it. But I know all the love and good energy will be there and even stronger when we get to do this next year.”
Stoughton said he’s had tremendous support from the artists, the fans, the vendors and his whole crew. His first challenge was booking the same bands for the following year. He said he called Billy Strings’ manager first, and the manager said the band had stuff going on, but they’ll do it for the good of the community.
Then Stoughton called the Infamous Stringdusters and they said they were in, next was the Devil Makes Three and they agreed they would come back.
“It came like a snowball and everyone has been so supportive and stoked and cool and appreciative of the community,” he said.
Hall said it wasn’t difficult for the Stringdusters to book the festival for 2021.
“We’ve been a part of this family since the beginning, so it doesn’t take long for us to say, ‘Of course Scotty, see you there!’”
Stoughton said the fans have been supportive with the festival’s decision to not refund tickets, but honor them for the 2021 event. All tickets for the 2020 event are now valid for 2021. He said if there are unhappy fans and have extenuating circumstances, the festival staff will help in whatever way they can. WWG will be promoting a ticket exchange, called Lyte. If fans want to sell a ticket, they will be able to do so safely through Lyte. If someone is looking to buy a ticket, the WWG website will direct them to those tickets first, helping fans get their money back.
By doing this, WinterWonderGrass was able to weather the massive loss, he said.
“I want people to know that by rescheduling this festival, we’re able to support the bands with the deposits,” Stoughton said. “We’re able to tone down our crew, but keep the lights on, essentially.”
“Option one is to go bankrupt; option two is to postpone,” he said. “Because people are behind the decision, they are allowing WinterWonderGrass to survive. The fans have really answered and I didn’t know what to say. The amount of encouragement has been so heartwarming.”
WWG does have merchandise for the event specific for the year. Stoughton said his team will save it and sell it. Over the next month, they’ll hope to build an online store and have the items for sale. Also, each ticket came with a Klean Kanteen reusable cup. Since mailing each ticket holder his or her cup would be very costly, Stoughton is trying to find a solution that is economically and environmentally friendly. He hopes to set up a location he can bring them and get them out into the community.
The 2021 event is pushed back about 10 days from the usual date. Stoughton said with how busy the Squaw community has been the past couple of years, the festival would either have to change locations to happen in late March or take the early April dates to remain at Squaw Valley.
“We’ll give it a shot for one year,” he said. “If people support it and love it and it works, we’ll have a good home.”
While many fans will be missing the trek to Squaw Valley this weekend, the WWG team is launching WWG TV on Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. on their Facebook page. The festival will be streaming highlights from last years’ event. They will air a new episode the next two Fridays at the same time.
“We thought, as a team, what can we do this upcoming weekend to shine the light on our community and say thank you?,” Stoughton said. “We want to show that we’re not sitting on our asses in sadness and that we continue to bring the spirit to Squaw.”
Hall said the Stringdusters are very happy to be part of the first episode of WWG. He looks forward to 2021 to reunite with everyone and is happy to see it continue.
“We NEED WWG to keep going!,” Hall writes. “It’s one of those rare events that’s designed for maximum fun and creativity, not just for the fans but for the bands as well. They do so much good work in the communities these events take place in. WWG was really at the forefront of sustainable festivals, and so we need that leadership to keep going. Besides, where else am I going to play a show in ski goggles?”