I can’t remember the first time I attended Sugarloaf’s Reggae Fest, but I remember the last one. It was 2017, and I was skiing in a pair of $8 boots that I had bought used at a local ski and skate sale (I think they were on rental before I got my hands on them) , a pair of hand cut jorts and a used leather belt. On my bare stomach was the Sugarloaf logo painted with face paint, and in my backpack were several layers to put on as I rode the elevator (no, I won’t show you a photo ). I was unfortunately still under 21 and still in high school, so attending the alcohol-related aspects of the festival was not an option.
If you don’t know, Reggae Fest is a reggae-focused music festival that takes place in early April at Maine’s biggest (and best, if you ask me) ski resort, Sugarloaf. This year, for its 34th year, the festival was held April 7-10, and I was several thousand miles away in Denver, Colorado, rather than soaking up the mountain energy with which I grown up.
Don’t get me wrong, moving to Colorado, where I can ski massive, deep ski resorts, where there’s rarely ice despite what Texas tourists will tell you (personal experience with this one, sorry if you come from Texas, I didn’t mean to offend you), and where the terrain managed to make my asshole tighten up a bit, was one of the best decisions of my life. I love this place, but I also miss Sugarloaf and Reggae Fest.
There are festivals here that manage to help with pullouts, Swimwear Day at Arapahoe Basin is the one that immediately comes to mind, but nothing I experienced compares to the local rowdiness of Sugarloaf. In Colorado, it seems unlikely that I’ll post a video of me skiing in a speedo on my instagram, only to have someone from my past, someone I haven’t seen in several years, reach out and say he saw me sailing under the lift line, asking to meet up for a few laps. At Sugarloaf, things like this seemed to happen often. It’s not the most local mountain in the world, but Reggae Fest encourages that kind of interaction.
This post is not an ad for Sugarloaf, it’s just a love letter to Reggae Fest. I think I wanted to escape the freezing conditions of East Coast skiing so badly that I forgot to really appreciate and understand what it was for me. That’s why the Reggae Fest weekend always makes me miss my native mountain so much. It’s one of those things I thought was better west of the Mississippi. If mountains are bigger and better, so should festivals, right? If you live and ski in the east, take a moment to appreciate what the freezing cold and icy mountains have given you, and if you ski on the west coast or in the Rockies, maybe take a trip to the ‘est, treat yourself to some of these rugged New England mountains to try.
Image Credit: Sugarloaf on Instagram