I don’t remember the first time I attended Sugarloaf‘s Reggae Fest, but I do remember the last. It was in 2017, and I was skiing in a pair of $8 boots I purchased used at a local ski and skate sale (I think they were rentals before I got my hands on them), a pair of hand-cut jorts, and a second-hand leather belt. On my bare stomach was the Sugarloaf logo painted with face paint, and in my backpack were several layers to toss on while riding the lift (no, I will not be showing you a photo). I was, unfortunately, still under 21, and still in high school, so participation in 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 largest (and best, if you ask me) ski resort, Sugarloaf. This year, for its 34th year, the festival took place from April 7th-10th, and I was several thousand miles away in Denver, Colorado, rather than enjoying the energy of the mountain I grew up with.
Don’t get me wrong, moving to Colorado, where I can ski massive, deep powdered resorts, where there’s rarely ever ice despite what Texan tourists will tell you (personal experience with this one, sorry if you’re from Texas, I don’t mean to offend you), and where the terrain succeeds in causing my bumhole to clench up a bit, was one of the best decisions in my life. I do love this place, but I also miss Sugarloaf, and I miss Reggae Fest.
There are festivals out here that manage to help with the withdrawals, Swimwear Day at Arapahoe Basin is one that immediately comes to mind, but nothing I’ve experienced compares to the local rowdiness of Sugarloaf. In Colorado, it feels unlikely that I’ll post a video of myself skiing in a speedo on my instagram, only to have someone from my past, someone I haven’t seen for several years, reach out and say they saw me cruising under the lift line, asking to meet up for a few laps. At Sugarloaf, things like that seemed to happen often. It’s not the most local mountain in the entire world, but Reggae Fest encourages those kinds of interactions.
This post is not an advertisement for Sugarloaf, it’s just a love letter to Reggae Fest. I think I so desperately wanted to escape the icy conditions of East coast skiing that I forgot to really appreciate and understand what it’s given me. That’s why Reggae Fest weekend always makes me miss my home mountain so much. It’s one of those things I thought would be better west of the Mississippi. If the mountains are bigger and better, so should the festivals, right? If you’re living and skiing the east, take a moment to appreciate what the bitter cold, sheet ice mountains have given you, and if you ski the West coast or the Rockies, maybe take a trip out east, give some of those rugged New England mountains a try.
Image Credit: Sugarloaf on Instagram