Reggae fans chill at Sugarloaf

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CARRABASSETT VALLEY – The beats were heavy and so was the snow at the 22nd Annual Bud Light Reggae Festival at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort on Saturday.

Mountain officials estimated about 5,000 music fans and spring skiers were on hand during the third day of the festival, a slightly lower turnout than in past years. But those who did venture to the resort were able to take advantage of the 6 to 8 inches of fresh snow that had fallen by Saturday afternoon and catch at least one of the nearly one-dozen reggae acts that were expected to perform during the four-day festival.

The free concert space, an outside area nearby the base lodge known as “the beach,” was sparsely populated earlier in the day, but by late afternoon it was filled with people taking in the sounds of Mighty Mystic.

“The crowd was strong on the beach by the time the afternoon got going,” said Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin. “The indoor crowds for the shows have been really good. We had a nice crowd (on Friday night) and we are expecting a sold-out show (on Saturday night).”

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Austin said the cooler temperatures likely kept some people away, but for those that came, the snow made for good skiing on the 64 open trails.

“It’s definitely weird to have snow for Reggae Fest,” he said. “It’s not abnormal for spring snow, but traditionally the weather has been sunnier the weekend of reggae. I don’t think anybody was too upset with how the weather turned out; it’s made for better skiing.”

Visitors said both the skiing and the music hit the right notes.

“Last year was pretty amazing, but this year it’s extremely amazing,” said Elise Knowles, 25, of Cumberland. “The fact that we are skiing on some powder, the company I am with and last night I saw an amazing performance.”

Knowles said she was attracted to the festival because of the lifestyle the reggae music and the laid-back ski scene promote.

“It’s the lifestyle I wish I could live,” she said. “It gives you an excuse to listen to fabulous music and wear fun clothes. It’s an excuse to wear what you wish you could wear every day, on the slopes, on the streets; everyone really has their own style.”

Knowles sported a one-piece, red ski suit that she said used to belong to her mother.

Indeed, colorful style seemed to be a slope requirement. Many skiers were decked out in fluorescent gear, and more than a few wore leg warmers and tights.

Events had gone pretty smoothly, for the most part, said Scott Nichols, Carrabassett Valley police chief. He said Saturday afternoon there had been one arrest on the mountain during the festival.

The event was being staffed by about seven police officers, around the clock, Nichols said.

“For the most part, we try to send everyone off to their beds, so they don’t hurt themselves or anybody else,” he said, adding that any trouble officers see is usually alcohol- or drug-related.

rmetzler@sunjournal.com

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