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Sweetwater Gearfest 2017: An Audio Celebration

Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack greeted thou- sands of customers in the lobby, in front of the VW van where the company all started.

Every year in June, Sweetwater puts on a free all-day celebration of music and sound called Gearfest, an eac an every year it gets bigger and better, drawing a record 14,000-plus visitors this yeato Fort Wayne, Ind., on June 23-24. It’s big, it’s free, and it’s all about technology and music.

Launched in 2002, its the nations largest customer-focused music and pro audio festival and trade show, featuring exhibits from manufacturers, workshops, clinics, seminars, live demos, special performances, a musicians flea market, and much more.

This years two-day event featured guests including Grammy Award-winning producer/engineers Al Schmitt, Chris  Lord-Alge and Chuck Ainlay. Musicians included virtuoso guitarist Eric Johnson; Dweezil Zappa, Steve Stevens, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Earth, Wind & Fire keyboardist Larry Dunn; bassist and vocalist Rhonda Smith, renowned blues/jazz guitarist Robben Ford, Terry Bozzio, and Omar Hakim.

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.”


Sweetwater owner/founderChuck Surack solos on baritone saxophone during the Sweetwater All Stars’ performance. Guests included Eric Johnson, Greg Koch, Carl Verheyen, Dweezil Zappa and many others.

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.

For the second year, Sweetwater offered free camping for tents and RVs. In addition, hourly prizes were given away, totaling more than $50,000 worth of music instruments and equipment.

More than 45 videos, including interviews and product demos, were recorded and posted at Sweetwaters YouTube channel.

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