Sweetwater 420 Fest

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It’s Spring in Atlanta, and after a season of dreary rain, people were just waiting to get outdoors.  This past weekend cooperated with the masses, with mid 70’s temperatures, a cool breeze, and lots of pollen.  Well, two out of three isn’t bad.

The annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival returned to Piedmont Park, including an expanded craft show, concert stages, and general enjoyment of the Park spaces.  But, at Candler Park was the 3rd annual Sweetwater 420 Festival, the sponsor being one of three Georgia breweries.  With a couple coworkers, I opted for the latter, what promised to be an entertaining afternoon of suds and music.

First impressions are often accurate.  Being told that the gatekeepers were almost sold out of wristbands at the main entrance gave me a pretty good clue.  Working my way to a beer line confirmed it.  Lots and lots of people arrived before me.  The event is held in part to benefit the maintenance of Candler Park, but one has to wonder if the event has outgrown the venue.

Pictures pretty well sum the story.

Behind the center white tent is a beer truck.  Everyone this side of the tent is thus “in line” to get Sweetwater Blue, Sweetwater 420, Sweetwater Summer Ale, and their other offerings. Without a doubt, mid-afternoon was peak business. 

The festival also included a limited craft show, but most people came for either the music or the socializing.  The main stage is below, as seen from the top of an embankment that suits concert watching well.

The opposite view shows the crowd around the stage.  There were still spaces to be had for those that looked, but arriving early has its benefits, especially if bringing chairs or blankets:

The vast majority of the crowd did not listen to the music, but rather gathered elsewhere to drink and relax.  The musical acts were decent, but no one was really there to hear a particular artist – the music was the soundtrack to the overall scene.


The crowd was a limited cross-section of Atlanta, tending towards 20’s and 30’s, with singles and families, black and white, tattooed and undecorated.  It being Spring and the South, sundresses were aplenty.

That said, not everyone chose to “dress up” for the occasion, or rather, they dressed up for a different occasion.


As it turns out, there was also a Zombie Bar Crawl in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood.  As Bugs Bunny might say, they shoulda taken that left in Albuquerque.  But it was all in fun.

One friend observed the painter at work here on the Sweetwater truck.  There was no evidence of stenciling, and it appeared to be painted freehand from the start.  Sweetwater’s logo, and products, were visible everywhere.  They’re not only entitled as a sponsor, but they’re worthy as they make a great beer known regionally. Refreshingly, there were no Bud Light trucks to be seen.

But, it doesn’t take beer to make everyone happy.  Even the Mellow Mushroom staff were having a good time:

Pizza being tossed!

Given the five or so beer trucks, one might wander whether the BBQ was really sold out or if the staff saw that there were better things they might be doing.

Why?  Because the event was mostly about beer.  As Homer Simpson might say, “Beer good.”

Then, beer gone.


Without a chair or a blanket, a few hours was enough, and I began to wander back to the Marta station.  Marta, as they are apt to do when the City is particularly active, once again underwhelmed, with infrequent trains carrying a shortage of cars.  One weekend is identical to the next in Marta-land.  Candler Park is favored by locals, generally, and those outside of walking distance clearly knew the best way to go about getting to the Park. 

It was a very good time, but next year, I’ll arrive early with a chair and claim some shade and a view of the stage.  Oh, and buy my beer before the 4:00 rush.

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