Carrabassett Valley, Maine, and the island of Jamaica usually don’t get confused.

People don’t step off the plane at Montego Bay airport carrying a pair of skis. And they don’t appear at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain wearing sandals and perking their ears for island sounds.

At least not usually.

But starting Thursday and continuing through the weekend, island music and revelry will prevail, along with those colorful short-sleeved shirts typically reserved for tropical vacations.

The 22nd annual Bud Light Reggae Festival brings a slice of the Caribbean to the ski resort. Some of reggae’s finest will perform during the four-day event, and the music lures a crowd not typically seen on Sugarloaf’s terrain.

“It’s the sort of atmosphere (reggae) music fosters,” said Ethan Austin, Sugarloaf’s communications manager. “It’s fun, about having a good time more than anything and a diverse mix of people.”


Austin said an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 turn out for the fest each year, and while plenty of them take advantage of some sunny spring skiing, plenty more never head up the mountain.

“There are a lot of people who never ski, they just come up for Reggae Fest,” Austin said.

And with headliners like Inner Circle, Kenyatta Hill and Tosh-1, who can blame folks for sticking close to the base lodge?

The Reggae Festival begins Thursday at Sugarloaf’s Widowmaker Lounge with a free evening show from Brooklyn-based Dub Is a Weapon, beginning at 9:30 p.m.

On Friday, Mystic Bowie gives reggae to the early attendees, performing from 2:30-5:30 p.m., also at Widowmaker. Royal Hammer takes over at 9:30 p.m. There is a cover charge for the evening performance.

At the mountain’s King Pine Room, DJ Kompost kicks things off at 8:30 p.m., followed at 10 p.m. by Inner Circle — the Jamaican quintet whose popular song “Bad Boys” became the “Cops” theme song. Tickets are required for this show.


The real meat of Reggae Fest can be seen and heard on Saturday, when the music and the crowd congregate outside. Free performances from Trumystic, J-san & the Analogue Sons and Mighty Mystic will be outside on the “Beach” from noon to 6 p.m. The daytime performances are for all ages, though alcohol sales are part of the festivities.

Inside, catch iLa Mawana for free at 2:30 p.m. at the Widowmaker Lounge or Trumystic and J-san & the Analogue Sons at night for a cover charge. In the King Pine Room, Mighty Mystic and Yard Squad warm up the crowd in preparation for headliner Kenyatta “Culture” Hill, son of reggae legend Joseph Hill. Tickets are required for the nighttime performances.

And while Sunday is normally a good day for relaxation and recovery, this year’s Reggae Festival has one more day of outdoor entertainment music fans won’t want to sleep through. At noon, iLa Mawana gets things going on the Beach; Tosh-1, the son of Wailers’ legend Peter Tosh, takes the stage at 2 p.m. Both performances are free to watch or take in as background music while hitting the slopes.

The festival’s headliners are highlights, but there is more music to be had on and around the mountain. For the full lineup, schedule and ticket information, go to

Of course, the skiing is still good for anyone who wants to squeeze a few last runs out of the season. Ski and lodging packages are available for the weekend and there will be free bus services to shuttle festivalgoers around the mountain or in town.

The Reggae Festival offers an ideal blend of mountain sport and Caribbean sound. And it’s sure more convenient to bring the music to Sugarloaf than to bring the snow to Jamaica.



Shannon Bryan can be reached at 822-4056 or at:

[email protected]


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