Weekend of music, running, camping at MassGathering
GREAT BARRINGTON — Want to run a marathon then camp out and listen to live music by local, regional and national acts?
Then the inaugural MassGathering at Ski Butternut might be the weekend attraction for you.
Running 8 a.m. Saturday through 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the festival is jam-packed with family friendly events, featuring a variety of running and obstacle races; Grammy-nominated headlining acts Matisyahu, a reggae artist, and '90s pop/rock alternative icons the Gin Blossoms; as well as local food and beverage vendors, yoga events, camping and more.
MassGathering is produced by organizer Matt Linick and his events company, Running Away Inc., which has previously staged Memorial Day races on and around the grounds of Tanglewood in Lenox as well as the SummerSoundLive festival there.
Linick said being at Ski Butternut has given the company the opportunity to provide a true music festival experience, which traditionally includes camping. The venue change also means a new experience and potential economic impact in the Great Barrington area. Last year's event attracted some 1,300 runners and 2,000 concertgoers to the Lenox area, and Linick expects a similar turnout this year, with about 85 percent of registered runnings listing hometowns beyond the Berkshires, he said.
"With 10 bands, six races, yoga during the day, and food from a lot of different Berkshire vendors, we hope to offer a good local feel to festivalgoers from beyond this area, as well as local people," Linick said.
Day passes are $35 and weekend passes are $60 for the festival, making it a value to access five live performances a day, plus event amenities.
The band lineup — featuring a blend of reggae, rock, pop, Americana and more —includes: Matisyahu, Gin Blossoms, Deer Tick, Wild Adriatic (Albany, N.Y.), Parsonsfield (Northampton), Madaila (Burlington, Vt.), Strange Machines (Boston), West End Blend (Hartford, Conn.), The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow (Western Mass.), and the Berkshires' own DJ BFG.
"If there's anything in common about the music it's that we wanted people who were great live," said Linick.
The majority of the performing acts tour heavily in the New England region, thus lending the festival a distinctly regional feel.
"I think going forward, we'll always have that kind of feel," the organizer said.
The other aspect of MassGathering that distinguishes it from the country's other music festivals is, of course, the running.
The race events include: a marathon/half-marathon; 10k/5k; Greylock Federal Credit Kids Run; Butternut 10k Trail Race; The Sicko obstacle run and Sicko Challenge; and the Trail-Road Challenge.
Other special features include the Vendor Village, including: Big Elm Brewery, Smokey Sweet BBQ, Furnace Brook Winery, The Chuck Wagon, The Scoop, and others food and drink purveyors. Programs and booths include: Henna By Heather, Berkshire Magazine and yoga by CommUNItymovement throughout the day. "It will be a great way to tie in the races, camping, and music all together," Linick said of the Vendor Village, a new offering.
Also new is the "Camp Butternut" feature, which allows camping pass holders a chance to enjoy entrance to the ski area's upper lodge after-party festivities that include bonfires, glow-in-the-dark yoga and music experiences, and more.
Linick, who comes from New York, went to school in Michigan and who currently resides in Florida, said the key to the festival's sustainability is to continue to draw both a local and regional crowd with crossover potential between music lovers and athletes. He said at least 60 percent of the racers are expected to stick around for the music and camping. He said since his initial introduction to a summer camp in Becket at age 9, he's been coming back to the Berkshires again and again, for its natural beauty, culture and proximity to major cities and regional hubs like Westchester and Hudson, N.Y.
"But for me, for this specific event, it's very important that it not just to be for out-of-towners but for Berkshire people as well," he said.
If you go ...
Tickets are on sale at www.massgathering.com. Options range from a $10 after-party to a $145 VIP full-weekend package. Race registration ranges from $12 to $130. Tickets can also be purchased at the ski shop at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, the Arcadian Shop in Lenox, Big Elm Brewing in Sheffield, and Mission Bar & Tapas in Pittsfield. Kids 10 and under will be admitted free of charge.