Plenty of jamming happens at the Academy and, to a lesser extent during the actual festival, though of course you can definitely find some jamming no matter what.
Jamming also happens in the town park campground, just down the road from the fester.
I have found that the skill level of pickers in the general Boulder/Lyons area is extremely high, especially featuring a lot of remarkably young kids who freakin' smoke on their instruments to a degree that puts most of us old timers to shame and sends us back to the woodshed.
I personally recall a jam a couple years back with a whole bunch of youngin's (like under 20 something) several of whom had one Colorado based mandolin contests. Their take on Monroe's Hornpipe at top speed made me embarrased to think I couldn't keep up.
I immediately began working this tune up and can now play it pretty quickly - but the memory of being unable to keep up with a bunch of snot nosed (but amazing) little punks lingers.
My best memory of Rgrass was back in 2000 - I had a backstage pass and witnessed what I've heard was the first ever meeting of Chris Thile and David Grier.
I entered Craig Ferguson's little backstage warm up shack at midnight and left at 5 AM. CT and DG did little in the way of talking. They just fired tunes at each other full force. Bluegrass, swing, fiddle tunes, show tunes, tin pan alley, dawg music, Monroe and even originals. Grier got nasty with someone who attempted to tape it so no record of this exists (though the amazing Prism Coffee House 3 CD set is pretty close to this and well worth seeking out). The first two hours had Gene Libea on Bass but he was easily bested by these sick pickers and left around 2. There were no more than 15 people in the cabin at a time and with the conclusion of each amazingly delivered tune there were palpable gasps from the tiny audience.
At 4:45 Grier yawned, excused himself and left. Buzzed from the high of it Thile began to ebulliently preach to the remaining few folks about Bach and then till around 5 performed the 2nd movement to Bach's Concerto in G minor solo.
I left completely stunned, amazed, bewildered and awed and felt like burning my mandolin... This kid is truly the next thing. (And Grier is certainly among the very best at his art).
Mandolin, Guitar, Bass
Acoustic, Electric, Eclectic
Swing, Boogie, Bluegrass,
Psychedelic, Blues and Rock