Sugarloaf hosts 22nd Bud Light Reggae Fest this weekend

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CARRABASSETT VALLEY—  A celebration of spring skiing and reggae music will return to Sugarloaf Mountain this week for the 22nd year.

Thousands of skiers and also reggae fans are expected at Sugarloaf’s Bud Light Reggae Festival planned from Thursday night through Sunday.

Performing will be 11 bands, including headliners Inner Circle on Friday night, Kenyetta Hill on Saturday night and TOSH-1, who will give a free show Sunday on the beach, an area in front of the base lodge. There will be both indoor priced appearances and free outdoor music for everyone to enjoy, said Ethan Austin, communications manager for Sugarloaf.

Why reggae?

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“The festival started over 20 years ago. It fit the spirit of what we want to celebrate: spring skiing, the outside and enjoying life — what reggae music is all about,” Austin said. This music genre “fosters a peaceful spirit and a lot of dancing and enjoyment,” he added.

Devoted fans come for the music while skiers come down the hill and check out the music, Austin said.

Depending on the weather and the skiing, the festival has grown over the years, with Sugarloaf preparing for anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 visitors over the weekend.

“Ski Magazine ranked the festival as one of the ‘Top Ten Spring Bashes in North America,’ the only East Coast event on the list,” Austin said.

As for the skiing, “It’s good. The snow has held up well. Skiing is great,” he said, although snow is going sooner and the mountain would normally expect to see these conditions a week or so later. Still, 60 trails are open, the most on the East Coast, followed by Killington, Vt., and Sunday River, Austin said.

The festival will begin Thursday night with a party in Widowmaker Lounge.

“A hugely popular band, Inner Circle, known as the ‘Bad Boys of reggae’ play Friday night in the King Pine Room. A lot of people don’t know their name but recognize their song ‘Bad Boys’ now used as a cop’s theme song,” Austin said.

A Jamaican-bred, Grammy-winning quintet, Inner Circle  got a foothold in the reggae business in the mid-1970s and became better known worldwide with the release of its “Bad Boy” album.

Free live music is planned for Saturday on the beach, rain or shine, Austin said.

The day will end with a performance by Kenyatta Hill, who began a career when his father’s, Joseph Hill, ended on tour in 2006. He has played prior to Culture performances while also pursuing a solo career and gaining a reputation for electrifying live performances, according to a Sugarloaf release.  The reggae band Yard Squad will back his Saturday night performance in the King Pine Room.

Another son of a reggae great, Peter Tosh, TOSH-1, continued his father’s legacy after his death and has since performed on some of the largest reggae stages.  A free outdoor performance is planned for Sunday on the beach.

Also performing throughout the weekend will be the Mighty Mystic, Royal Hammer, Mystic Bowie, JSAN & the Analogue Sons, Dub Is A Weapon, Trumystic, iLa Mawana and DJ Kompost.

Although a mellow crowd is expected, with that many people on-site for the festival the Carrabassett Valley Police Department is gearing up to handle any issues that may crop up, said Lt. Randy Walker. The eight-member department will work through the weekend along with a private security company hired that provides nearly 30-35 security officers.

Saturday will be the biggest day with a potential for up to 10,000 people if the weather is good, he said.

“It’s all hands on deck for the department,” said Chief Scott Nichols. “We each work long hours, 12-18 hours daily, with officers lodged on the mountain so they don’t have to drive home.  We do it every year and come out unscathed, providing a safe environment so they can come up and have fun.”

State Police and officers from Franklin County Sheriff  Department provide assistance with traffic on Route 27, north and south of us, Nichols said. They also conduct patrols for those driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

For more information about Sugarloaf and the Bud Light Reggae Festival, visit www.sugarloaf.com/reggae.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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