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

Sweetwater Holds 2017 GearFest

Sweetwater has announced that GearFest 2017 was the company's biggest success yet, breaking every record established by previous GearFest events. Launched in 2002, Sweetwater's free, annual GearFest is the nation's largest customer-focused music and pro-audio festival and trade show, featuring exhibits from manufacturers, workshops, clinics, seminars, live demos, special performances, a musician's flea market, and more.

This year's two-day event, which took place June 23 and 24 at Sweetwater's corporate headquarters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, had record-breaking attendance with more than 14,000 participants — up 20 percent over 2016 and with sales up by 44 percent over last year.

"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," said Chuck Surack, Sweetwater founder and president. "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."

In total, GearFest included more than 200 workshops and seminars, including sessions on guitar, recording, live sound, music creation with computers, acoustics, songwriting, and how to use electronic instruments. 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. In addition, hourly prizes were given away, totaling more than $50,000 worth of music instruments and equipment.

"Only at GearFest can musicians and audio enthusiasts come to see, hear, enjoy — not to mention buy — what is usually reserved for music-industry insiders at your typical trade show," Surack said.