Fort Wayne, IN (July 5, 2017)—Sweetwater Sound held its annual GearFest June 23 and 24 at its corporate headquarters in Fort Wayne, Indiana and closed out the weekend discovering it was the retailer’s biggest event ever.
The yearly convocation serves up exhibits from manufacturers, workshops, clinics, seminars, live demos, performances, a musician’s flea market and more. For the 2017 edition, more than 14,000 people were on hand, with attendance up 20 percent and sales up by 44 percent over 2016. Housed in more than 20 tents, more than 400 manufacturers of musical instruments, music technology, and pro audio equipment were on hand to provide GearFest attendees a look at the latest gear.
While plenty of musical guests were present, such as guitarists Eric Johnson, Dweezil Zappa, Steve Stevens, Andy Timmons; keyboardist Larry Dunn; bassist and vocalist Rhonda Smith; and others, there were also production notables there to discuss their work, such as Grammy Award-winning producer/engineers Al Schmitt, Chris Lord-Alge, and Chuck Ainlay.
Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack remarked, “One of the most exciting and humbling experiences I enjoy every year is personally greeting thousands of our customers at the front door as they arrive. Their enthusiasm for Sweetwater and GearFest is astounding and they really appreciate our incredible employees and their personal, caring, and welcoming interactions with each and every attendee. All this, plus its continued growth in overall attendance and sales, has made GearFest a unique event in the music retail business.”
Using the hashtag #gearfest, attendees could view their social media posts on a large display in Sweetwater’s Downbeat Diner. Estimated total attendee posts for the two days was more than 20,000. More than 45 videos, including interviews and product demos, were recorded and posted at Sweetwater’s YouTube channel.