Grand Rapids has a great music and beer scene, and no day will better exemplify this than Saturday, June 20. Once again the streets of downtown will be closed off for Founders Fest. This year is the eighth annual outdoor festival, and Founders Brewing Co. is expecting more than 6,000 beer and music lovers to gather on Grandville Avenue between Cherry and Bartlett for the festivities.
“Founders Fest is the highlight of our summer and our biggest event of the year,” said Mark Dorich, Founders Fest director and vice president of retail operations. “It’s special for us to have an opportunity to celebrate with our community, right here on the streets surrounding our brewery.”
Last year’s beer lineup included Founders Fest Wheat, brewed annually for the event; All Day IPA; Red’s Rye IPA; as well as specialty beers Doom, KBS, Sweet Repute and Bolt Cutter. With recent releases of Blushing Monk and CBS, who knows what we might find on tap this year (only speculation on my part)?
A wide range of musical talent will be featured at this year’s Founders Fest, with national act Dirty Dozen Brass Band coming from New Orleans to deliver that Big Easy sound. Other performers include Portland, Oregon’s, Nahko and Medicine for the People with their take on world-beat/spiritual-roots music; upcoming folk-Americana act Elephant Revival from Nederland, Colo.; and indie rock group Gringo Star out of Atlanta. Hailing from Traverse City is the bluegrass duo Billy Strings & Don Julin, who will join Grand Rapids jazz legends organissimo, as well as Founders Open Mic alums Devin and The Dead Frets with their rock’n’roll sound.
Last but never least is the return of the super-group of Founders employees, the FBC All-Stars. Last year’s performance by the All-Stars included a crowd-pleasing rendition of “Purple Haze,” with head brewer Jeremy Kosmicki on lead guitar.
This year’s event will again feature local food vendors as well as Local Artists Row, which showcases works of some of the area’s finest artists and designers. Other strolling and surprise entertainers will be sprinkled throughout the day. And of course, plenty of beer will be available, including Founders year-round offerings and quite a few taproom one-offs. The entire festival will be on the street; the entire taproom space — including the beer garden, deli, company store and Centennial Room — will be closed for the day.
Founders Fest is a celebratory thank-you to Grand Rapids and West Michigan for making Founders what it is today. Founders Brewing Co. has been part of the Grand Rapids scene since 1997 and has grown its brewing tradition from modest beginnings to being one of the highest rated breweries in the world.
“We look forward to Founders Fest every year,” said co-founder and CEO Mike Stevens. “Beer and music bring people together, and we love being able to put on an event that does just that. It gives us the opportunity to get our family, friends and community together for a day so that we can toast to all of them.”
Founders is again partnering with The High Five Program, a local community organization that works to prevent litter and reduce waste streams at large-scale events. They managed to achieve over 90 percent waste diversion the last two years and hope to improve that rate this year.
Guarantee yourself entry to Founders Fest 2015 and save a little cash with advance pre-sale tickets:
Discounted advance ticket sales will be available starting Friday, April 17, at the Founders taproom, as well as at Founders website through EventBrite. The event is limited to ages 21 and older.