Written by: Mikala Lugen | Photo(s) by: Matt Dippel Tristan Sadler
Ski & Party: Fifth Annual Shred Fest Gathers Thousands To SLC’s Liberty Park [Recap/Gallery]
You can’t ski and party if you don’t ski and party! This was the motto heard last weekend at Salt Lake City, UT’s Liberty Park as thousands of winter aficionados celebrated the new snowy season at the fifth annual Shred Fest.
Having originally started in Missoula, MT back in 2011 and brought to Salt Lake City by seasoned locals, the annual winter kickoff event saw its highest attendance to date, gathering an estimated 7,000 people to South Salt Lake.
A warm sun greeted the Friday afternoon as more and more people filled up the park. The first 69 lucky people in line received free Pit Viper glasses which were rocked by thousands of attendees throughout the weekend, a staple look on and off the mountain. Local singer-songwriter Leah Woods serenaded attendees with her soulful indie folk ballads on the stage just as the sun was beginning to set at 6 p.m.
The hillside lawn of Liberty Park transformed into a movie theatre setting as hundreds gathered to watch the exclusive SLC showing of Teton Gravity Research’s Mountain Revelations. Filmed on Alaska’s Chugach Mountain Range, the 2021 film highlighted Jeremy Jones, Ryan Hudson, and Rafael Pease’s 10 day snowboarding mission, overcoming both physical and emotional challenges along the way, as well as addressing the hurdles of institutional racism and lack of access to opportunities on and off the mountain.
“There aren’t many BIPOC on the mountain. It takes a community accepting people as who they are, allowing people to be themselves on and off the mountain to diversify our slopes around the world,” Hudson said in a Q&A.
A highlight of the weekend included Friday night’s flaming finale of bluegrass five-piece The Lil Smokies. The band gathered a large group in front of the stage for an hour-long performance of high-energy mountain music. After throwing down three songs together as group, Andy Dunnigan, Jean-Luc Davis, and Michael “The Rev” Rieger exited the stage to make way for banjo player Kyle Tuttle and fiddle player Jake Simpson to light up the stage with a five-minute bluegrass improv. All back together onstage, acoustic guitarist Rieger led the bunch into an uplifting cover of “The Power Of Love” before a harmonized “When My Time Comes” closed out the evening.
Saturday’s Shred Fest opened its doors at 1 p.m., allowing a full day to enjoy the vendor village, keg bowling, breweries, and food trucks. DJ Fleege and DJ Matty Mo spun music throughout the afternoon as The University of Montana and U.S. Army hosted a lumberjack exhibition.
A 5 p.m., Liberty Park’s hill got transformed into a mini terrain park as the Rail Jam Qualifiers got started. Dozens of men and women skiers and snowboarders competed against each other to land a spot in the Rail Jam Finals later that evening. Risky tricks were had on the mushy 55-degree snow, leaving some with successful landings and others with hard falls.
As the competition was was being scored, local “partygrass” five-piece Pixie & The Partygrass Boys lit up the stage at 7 p.m adorned in fluorescent mountain wear thanks to Utah-based clothing company Powder Addicts. With their third-year return to the festival stage, the high-energy bluegrass group played through fan-favorites of “Come November,” “Flames,” and “Cabin Fever.” The crowd swung into a boot-stompin’ dance scene as “Utah Maid” made an appearance on the setlist. Making fun of Utah’s “stricter” culture, the lyrics “I can’t have sex I’m livin’ in Utah” and “I can’t smoke weed, I’m livin’ in Utah” were sung high across the Valley, but it wasn’t until the song’s ending verse of “I love to ski, I’m livin’ in Utah” that really brought out harmonized vocals from fans.
After getting all revved up by bluegrass, the Rail Jam Finals saw the best of the competitors go head-to-head to win the first place $1000 cash prize. Thousands flooded the mini terrain park to see the finalists showcase their best tricks. Sebastian Bowler, Cal Carson, Jordan Cooper, Taylor Lundquist, Bella Bacon, Emilee Cox, Joey Fava, Jack Wiley, Norm Schof, Dom Fuchs, Ruby Peyton, Egan Wint, and Laura Rogoski all took home awards for their endurance in the competition. Scroll below to see a detailed list of winner’s and rankings.
While not taking home an awarded win, first-time competitor Bruce Ostler was impressed with the amount of talent shown at the competition.
“It was my first time competing ever and competing at Shred Fest was a great experience. It was a lot of fun and everyone was throwing down. Catch me on the mountain this season at Brighton and Woodward,” Ostler said to Volume.
Saturday closed off with a finale performance by soulful singer NoMBe. Accompanied with a drummer and electric guitarist, the R&B indie artist gathered a large crowd to his set which included renditions of “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Summer’s Gone,” and “Milk & Coffee.”