Development of the SweetWater 420 Fest

The beauty of brewing is often celebrated in its ability to establish community — both within the brewery itself, but also with its patrons. SweetWater Brewing in Atlanta, Georgia has had community at the root of its purpose since the beginning. Maybe that’s a southern thing, maybe it’s a brewing thing. Regardless, its ability to bring together the state of Georgia, SweetWater customers and music fans alike, has been tremendous.

With the SweetWater 420 Fest coming up April 17-19, we reached out to Steve Farace, the director of marketing and the spokesperson for SweetWater, to discover how this began and why it was pursued:

BM: How was the SweetWater 420 Fest established?

SF: SweetWater wanted to celebrate everything that we are passionate about in one place — great beer, good music and the environment. The first 420 Fest was held in Oakhurst, Georgia with 3,000 people in attendance. Quite the change from the 65,000 we had at the 10th Annual 420 Fest last year in Centennial Olympic Park. We hold the festival close to Earth Day each year as we continually strive to be eco-friendly.

BM: What made SweetWater decide to develop such a large music and beer festival?

SF: We are more than just a brewery and our community knows that. We are also environmental activists, jam band junkies and all around heady folks! Being able to interject all of these things into one event that supports the environment, and the Atlanta community, has always been our goal. The fact that we can grow this festival while also growing our positive impact is fantastic!

BM: What has the festival done for the SweetWater brand?

SF: Here at SweetWater, we happily — and constantly — recognize that we would be nowhere the brewery we are today without the support of our community. Friends, family, fans and hospitality industry employees — each and every one of those folks helps SweetWater grow each and every day. 420 Fest is a way for us to give back to these fans and friends while we also celebrate the earth.

BM: What advice would you give other breweries that would take a shot at a festival of this magnitude?

SF: I would say that it definitely takes time. 420 Fest has been up and running for 11 years, and just in 2014 did we move over to Centennial Olympic Park due to crowd magnitude. In order to hold a festival with a turnout like this, you have to create a bond with your community. We’re grateful that we have that bond and the opportunity to bring such a fun festival to Atlanta each year.

BM: What are the long-term visions of the SweetWater 420 Fest?

SF: ​Our vision is to continue to grow in terms of brand recognition, and helping the planet. This year, we are funding a solar big belly trash compactor to service downtown Atlanta. Our goal is to get our community to share our love of the environment, delicious brews and great bands!


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