GearFest continues to draw sweet crowds to music trade show

June 20th, 2016

News Coverage:

June 19, 2016

GearFest continues to draw sweet crowds to music trade show

Keiara Carr | Journal Gazette

All it takes is one glance at the sea of white tents staked out on Sweetwater Sound’s parking lot to understand why a music lover would need two days to shop the annual GearFest.

Sweetwater manager Thad Tegtmeyer says that between Friday and Saturday, the music retailer anticipated 12,000 to 14,000 guests would descend upon Sweetwater’s campus at U.S. 30 and Kroemer Road. Still early in the day on Saturday, cars filled up multiple parking lots and even the grassy areas around the facility. The event is free and open to the public.

“Obviously we have lot of people who come both days, and so it’s not uncommon for them to come back early and get going,” Tegtmeyer said. “There’s a lot to see. There’s a lot of ground to cover in one day, so people like to get here early and see as much as they can.” 

GearFest featured more than 150 workshops led by industry experts over the two days, and over 80,000 feet of tent space with 18 tents filled with various music vendors. Inside, a stack of Marshall’s speakers made for a designated photo opp shot, and Sweetwater’s Crescendo Cafe and Downbeat Diner buzzed with people. A stream of families went up to the second level so their kids could have a turn going down the company’s slide.

“We just want to put on a great event for our friends and our customers and our guests. We want people to feel welcomed,” Tegtmeyer said.

This year, the annual event also featured a 1941 Novachord, known to be the first commercially available analog synthesizer. There are only 200 believed to be in existence, and only 5 are fully restored.

“We haven’t even made it outside, and it’s awesome,” Matt Petruska said as children jammed on instruments set up in front of Sweetwater Academy. 

He and his family traveled from Edwardsburg, Michigan, for their first GearFest. Petruska is a drummer, his oldest son, Logan, 11, plays guitar, his middle son, Tyler, 8, plays drums and piano and his daughter, Riley, 5, is a singer.

“It is overwhelming because there’s so much going on, but they’re very well-organized, and there’s a lot of Sweetwater employees here to help you,” Petruska said. “It’s very cool.”

Carol Craven from Campbellsville, Kentucky, said it was a spur-of-the moment decision to come to GearFest with her husband, who is a drummer. Craven, says said she lives a bit of a double life. She is a school administrator, but also runs the sound for her husband’s band.

Although Craven jokes that the only thing she can play is the radio, she is on the lookout for “new toys” for the band.

“I’m in love. It’s an annual trip, I’m thinking,” she said. “It’s just basically a state fair for musicians.”

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