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SweetWater 420 to toast its own holiday
by Noreen Cochran
April 17, 2013 11:17 AM | 2102 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Steve Farace, co-founder of the SweetWater 420 Festival, pours one of the many beers that will be offered at the festival.
Steve Farace, co-founder of the SweetWater 420 Festival, pours one of the many beers that will be offered at the festival.
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When SweetWater 420 Fest headliners George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic take the stage at Candler Park Friday, Saturday’s act The Bitteroots will be taking notes.

“We’ll be at the shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” said Bill Taylor, bassist of the Decatur-based rock band. “It’s an amazing lineup.”

Jennifer Bensch, principal of festival promoter Happy Ending Productions, called the ninth annual schedule “our most renowned musical lineup to date.”

“We’ve worked hard to diversify our festival offerings to engage and entertain guests of all ages and backgrounds,” she said in a statement.

SweetWater Brewing Co. spokesman and festival cofounder Steve Farace said when they say all, they mean all — including teetotalers and tots.

“At a free festival, there are a lot of people who don’t drink. If people don’t want to drink, great. Come on in,” he said.

Consumers of company brands like 420 Pale Ale, named for its April 20 launch, will be tapped for a $5 wristband.

“A portion goes back to the park,” Farace said about the 55-acre festival site. “Part of the mission of the festival is to make the park a better place than when we got there.”

Farace said the company will also give back to the river that supplies the water for its beer.

“At the SweetWater Experience tent, a portion of the proceeds goes to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper,” Farace said. “Our head brewer, Nick Nock, has created 24 experimental beers and you can buy them.”

New this year, the tent is also where visitors can pop their bottled-up questions at lecturers like brewery founder Freddy Bensch, husband of the festival promoter.

“We created a panel series so there will be different topics about cask ale, social media and craft beer, and what it was like to start a brewery,” Farace said.

The festival started in 2005 after the company settled into its new, larger location.

“We were trying to figure out a way to celebrate this local holiday of ours, April 20,” Farace said.

He said the festival has “blossomed” from humble beginnings to 35,000 attendees, attracted by music, comedy, children’s activities and unique features like a silent disco.

“We wanted to bring all that together in one weekend so we can showcase who we are as a brewery,” Farace said. “We’re a couple of guys who are making great beer and having as much fun as possible.”

If you go
 When: Friday from 4:20 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., Sunday from 12:30 to 7 p.m.
 Where: Candler Park, 585 Candler Park Drive in Atlanta.
 Cost: free admission, $5 drink wristband, $150 VIP.
 Information: www.sweetwater420fest.com
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