Sweetwater’s GearFest 2019 Returns To Fort Wayne, IN

Sweetwater founder Chuck Surack, left, with synth designer & Knobcon creator Suit & Tie Guy

This series of photos captures some impressions of Sweetwater GearFest 2019, held June 21-22 in Fort Wayne, IN.

The free event, held at Sweetwater’s headquarters, featured over 500 vendors and attracted 15,000+ musicians.

As you walk in the door at Gearfest, there’s always a chance that you may be greeted by  founder Chuck Surack, right, who can tell you the story of how the company got its start out of the back of a Volkswagen van.

The event featured educational sessions, live performance, gear demos, a gear swap meet and more.

The company’s parking lot was taken over with tents, where vendors showed their latest gear.

Gearfest activities took over much of the company’s headquarters:

Gearfest 2019, as always, featured a variety of education sessions. Many of the sessions are already available to stream via Sweetwater’s site.

Thanks to photographer Jill Gautreaux for sharing her impressions of Gearfest.

If you attended, let us know your thoughts on the event in the comments!

11 thoughts on “Sweetwater’s GearFest 2019 Returns To Fort Wayne, IN

  1. fort wayne has 264.488 inhabitants. how many of them are interested in buying musical instruments? my gues is they believe people would come from chicago and indianapolis, maybe detroit. to me the location doesn´t make any sense.

    1. It’s a huge success in Fort Wayne. They get people from all over the country.

      With 15,000 attendees, it’s already bigger than just about any other US music industry event, outside of NAMM.

      And it’s a no-brainer for vendors, because it’s cheap for them and gets tons of people. Sweetwater used to provide the tents, tables and even the gear from stock. This wouldn’t be an option if Sweetwater held it in Chicago or someplace else.

    2. Of the 15,000 attendees, many were from the midwest. I talked to some people who flew in from the east and west coasts, people that drove in from Kentucky and Ohio (I drove from Michigan). Sweetwater’s business has always been catalog/internet driven, not just sales to the locals. The location is now the destination spot.

    3. I live in Cleveland and have attended in two different years. It’s huge and packed, like a mini namm. Very hands on. Would have gone again this year but for a conflict.

  2. Great time seeing all the gear, the presenters and, of course, all the talent that came to play. Good crowds, and a free give away, which I didn’t win anything again! Dang! Great time. Can’t wait for next year

  3. Third year attending, it just keeps getting bigger and better. The vendor tents are cool, but the article misses that the meat of the event are the dozens of free workshops and clinics. Steve Vai, Sylvia Massey, Lynette Williams, just to name a few.

    You can view the recorded sessions here, by the way: https://www.sweetwater.com/gearfest/watch-live

    It is also a great place to come spin some knobs, the Synth tent just keeps getting bigger. Sweetwater also offers huge discounts on onsite show specials, so driving something with a big trunk is a good idea (or bad, depending on how bad your GAS is).

    1. Looks like your link is the same one shared in the article.

      Good point about the on-site deals, though. Last time I was there, they had Shure SM57-58 mics for something like $60. That’s a no-brainer, because they are indestructible.

  4. People drove from New York, Florida and other places. Some people we met flew in from out of the country. It is amazing what Chuck and the rest of the team at Sweetwater have created here.

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