Sweetwater 420 Fest announces lineup for 2022

Fest owner Jennifer Bensch brings back the community celebration.

From April 29 through May 1, 2022, the sounds of Sweetwater 420 Fest will reverberate from Centennial Olympic Park once again. After canceling and re-booking artists for Sweetwater 420 Fest in 2020 and in 2021, owner Jennifer Bensch is relieved and excited to announce it is time to resume the event.

“We just weren’t in the right spot yet from a COVID perspective. Now there’s a pent-up demand for people to celebrate life, which is really positive,” Bensch said.

Bensch is a rare female presence in a male dominated industry. Festivals such as Bonnaroo, Shaky Knees, Coachella, Lollapalooza, South by South West and many others are all led by men. Bensch has been organizing, booking and coordinating Sweetwater 420 Fest for more than a decade.

Growing up, Bensch’s parents were friends with Eric Lanese, drummer in the band Ekoostik Hookah. Starting at age 13, Bensch expressed interest in the music industry, so the band’s manager Jeff Spencer put her on the list for shows, but Bensch wasn’t interested in the party life, and told him to put her to work.

Bensch assisted with management, production, and even held a crucial role promoting a 25,000-person, four-day festival, all by the time she was 16. Determined and ambitious, Bensch was not going to let age or gender slow her down. “I was even known to strap up a pair of steel-toed boots, a harness, a hardhat, and climb 80-foot light towers to get the job done — they called me Construction Barbie,” Bensch said. Throughout college Bensch continued to work in the industry managing bands, promoting festivals, building stages, touring and eventually started her own promotion and production company, Happy Ending Productions.

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Bensch

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Bensch

When Freddy Bensch, co-founder of Sweetwater Brewing Company, turned the festival reigns over to his then girlfriend, Jennifer Doane (now Bensch), in 2008, some folks had their doubts. “People didn’t know who I was in the Atlanta market. They thought Freddy was just googly-eyed,” Bensch said. Bensch remained unfazed by the criticism, focusing on what she does best, music festivals.

Since then, Bensch has successfully grown Sweetwater 420 Fest from a one-day show with only a few hundred patrons in attendance to a full weekend event with thousands of patrons and household names like The Avett Brothers, Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident, Jason Isbell, and more. “Now, Freddy’s like, ‘I knew where you came from, and I always knew you could do it!’” she said.

Credit: Greg Allen/Invision/AP

Credit: Greg Allen/Invision/AP

Bensch believes surrounding herself with supportive, confident, ambitious people has been crucial for her advancement as a woman in the music industry. “I am fortunate to have such diverse experience. People believed in me enough to give me opportunities,” Bensch said. Bensch is now changing the industry by creating a female-centric team to work with. “I have a lot of strong, confident women who work with me,” Bensch explained.

Bensch and her team have created a lineup that will not disappoint. “More than typical years, getting back to it and being together will be such a rewarding feeling. We’ve all come through this and now we can celebrate and do what we love again,” she said. The line-up will include Snoop Dogg, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Oysterhead, Goose, Umphrey’s McGee and Dirty Heads. New for 2022 is a kick-off pre-party concert at noon on Thursday, April 28, at Centennial Olympic Park. The String Cheese Incident will be playing two sets supported by moe., Oteil & Friends and Empire Strikes Brass.

The festival will offer multiple stages, a craft and artist market, a large food court with a variety of options, a non-profit area called Planet 420, and a 5k road race that will end with a cold glass of Sweetwater brew.

“Community is something the festival has always been passionate about,” Bensch said, “It’s time to bring everyone back together. It’s a celebration.”

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FESTIVAL PREVIEW

Sweetwater 420 Fest

April 29-May 1. Three-day tickets $118-$350; VIP passes including a range of exclusive amenities also available. Tickets on sale at 10 a.m. Oct. 8. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. W. NW, Atlanta. sweetwater420fest.com, facebook.com/420fest.

Full line-up below:

  • Oysterhead
  • Trey Anastasio Band (2 sets)
  • The String Cheese Incident (2 sets)
  • Umphrey’s McGee (2 sets)
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (2 sets)
  • Goose, Dirty Heads
  • Snarky Puppy
  • JJ Grey & Mofro
  • Lotus
  • Turkuaz with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew: Remain in Light
  • Spafford
  • Big Something
  • Too Many Zooz
  • The Movement
  • Doom Flamingo + Queen is Doomed (2 sets)
  • Badfish
  • Boombox Feat. Backbeat Brass
  • Town Mountain
  • The Nth Power Feat. Jennifer Hartswick
  • Tropidelic
  • Brandon “Taz” Niederauer
  • Karina Rykman
  • Kitchen Dwellers
  • Neighbor
  • DENM
  • Little Stranger
  • Kanika Moore & The Psycodelics
  • Hedonistas
  • Butcher Brown
  • Sexbruise
  • Certainly So
  • Joslyn & The Sweet Compression
  • KrisB’s Midnight Railroad
  • Bird Dog Jubilee
  • The 4 Korners
  • The Stews
  • Pressing Strings
  • The Broadcast
  • Taylor Scott Band