Atlanta’s Sweetwater 420 Fest scaled back, admission now a $10 donation

Black Pumas, Beck dropped from the April 20-21 fest, but Gov’t Mule, Grace Potter, Big Gigantic remain.
Artist Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule performs on the River Stage at Beale Street Music Festival on Saturday, May 5, 2018 in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo by Laura Roberts/Invision/AP)

Credit: Laura Roberts/Invision/AP

Credit: Laura Roberts/Invision/AP

Artist Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule performs on the River Stage at Beale Street Music Festival on Saturday, May 5, 2018 in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo by Laura Roberts/Invision/AP)

With advance sales lagging, the organizers of Sweetwater 420 Fest have decided to scale back the concert festival but have also reduced general admission tickets to a $10 donation to the Waterkeeper Alliance.

The Waterkeeper Alliance is a long-time nonprofit group that protects rivers, lakes and other water bodies around the world.

While Beck and Black Pumas were dropped from the lineup that was announced in February, several major acts will remain over the two-day festival at Pullman Yards in Kirkwood including Gov’t Mule, Big Gigantic and Grace Potter. The festival is scheduled to take place Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21.

Refunds will be made for people who previously purchased advance tickets and those who did buy tickets will get free tickets. New tickets can be purchased at VIP tickets will be available as well.

The festival will have now have one stage instead of two with 12 acts instead of 25.

“It’s essentially going back to what Sweetwater was about 20 years ago,” said Prinz M. Pinakatt, a long-time Atlantan who joined Sweetwater’s parent company Tilray Brands, Inc. two months ago as chief marketing officer. “It’s always been a celebration of Earth Day and cannabis culture. We want to bring back that early vibe with the right band lineup reflective of our long history. It’s casual, relaxed and fun.”

Pinakatt said the event was never meant to make Sweetwater a lot of money and this year, with the revised festival model, it will certainly not be profitable. “Sweetwater is first and foremost about its brewery and beer,” he said, and he promises there will be plenty of Sweetwater beer at the festival, of course. “This is a way to celebrate our brand and spirit.”

The Sweetwater 420 Fest, known for drawing progressive jam bands, started in Oakhurst in 2005 with 3,000 attendees, has been through major changes in recent years.

For many years, the festival was held at spacious Centennial Olympic Park, drawing tens of thousands of people. But the organizers moved to Sweetwater 420′s own personal brewery property last year, shrinking its footprint and lineup significantly, citing safety issues. The move may have been tied to ongoing legal fallout from a 2014 ruling, which made it harder for Georgia organizers to ban firearms at short-term private events held on public land.

It also moved because Centennial Olympic Park’s owner, the Georgia World Congress Center, decided to stop pursuing festivals on its property and did not renew its contract with Sweetwater.

The final Centennial Olympic Park version in 2022 featured major headlining acts Widespread Panic, the Avett Brothers and Jason Isbell over three days.

Last year’s event on Sweetwater’s own property drew about 5,000 people.

Pullman Yards, which is private property, could fit significantly more than that number.

The entertainment district, once an industrial complex, opened in 2021 and now has multiple bars and space for immersive experiences, concerts, pop-up activities and film and TV production.

The revised lineup:

Saturday, April 20

2:30 p.m. Connor Clark

3:30 p.m. Andy Frasco & the UN

5 p.m. Larkin Poe

6:15 p.m. St. Paul & the Broken Bones

7:45 p.m. Grace Potter

9:30 p.m. Gov’t Mule

Sunday, April 21

2:30 p.m. BOTB Winner

3:30 p.m. Hedonistas

4:45 p.m. Little Strangers

6:15 p.m. Papadosio

8 p.m. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

9:30 p.m. Big Gigantic