Our venue in Darrington, WA!

As one of the most scenic venues in the entire United States, our venue is a hidden secret, known mostly for its 30+ years of hosting the Darrington Bluegrass Festival.

After several relocations in Summer Meltdown’s early years, this perfect venue was discovered. Between a glacier capped mountain and a calm lazy river, the venue is a 40 acre natural playground. The venue offers shaded camping under douglas fir trees, onsite parking, swimming and hiking, and a built-in amphitheater bowl. Our location is an hour and half northeast of Seattle, or southeast of Bellingham.

The Darrington Music Park is owned by Darrington Bluegrass and the County Music Makers Association.

In the Spring of 2014, tragedy struck 10 miles down the road in Oso, Washington with a tragic mudslide that claimed many lives. During the disaster response, our venue served as a base camp for first responders. With love for all those affected by the tragedy in our hearts, the Summer Meltdown community returned to the region to celebrate life and all of the beauty this region has to offer.

As you consider outdoor activities in the region, Summer Meltdown encourages you to visit and support the area surrounding Darrington and Oso, WA. There is boundless natural beauty and local kindness waiting for you!

Our History

History of Summer Meltdown 2

The history of Summer Meltdown spans to the first event on San Juan Island on August 5th, 2000.

As festival producer Josh Clauson tells it…

Summer Meltdown began as a seasonal party that my band Flowmotion started. The first event was called The Flowmotion Spring Explosion, and then we had the Summer Meltdown at the same place… After that we produced an indoor party called the Fall From Grace. We never made it past that to the winter party… They were too close together and too much work! But Summer Meltdown stuck.

In 2000 we built the stage for Summer Meltdown in a friend’s back yard on San Juan Island, bought a sound system on a credit card from Guitar Center that we could return within 30 days if we didn’t make enough money from the party to purchase it (thank you Guitar Center!). Friends helped with all different operations – security, vending, kegs, etc. The first Summer Meltdown ticket was $10 and included a keg cup.

The first year, there were no more than 200 friends in a 2 acre field. The attendance doubled in 2001. In 2002, our third year, we moved the event off the island because the ferries were expensive and a nightmare to deal with in the summer.

For the 2nd location, we built a new stage, cleared out space for camping, and blazed some trails. We completely developed this place into a cool little festival/party site and approximately 700 people showed up. The property owner wouldn’t let us return after that year, but rumor has it he’s still hosting events on the stage we built there!

Another two sites and our main stage was built off a single-wide mobile home floor (still on it’s wheels) that was pulled out of the bushes on the property. If only I could find the pictures. It is so funny to think back to that time – we were on a mission and unstoppable. This was 2003 and we were here for 2 years before we totally maxed the property out at about 1200+ people.

We took 2005 off (our only year off in the last 16!) and in 2006 I was able to convince the Darrington Bluegrass folks to rent us their 40 acre site. We invested a little money, rented a stage, brought in vendors, and had proper permits and insurance.

Thank you for joining us on this long and awesome journey!

For more history of Summer Meltdown, check out the past lineups!