In light of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers knew they couldn’t host some 1,000 people at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion for the fifth annual AMP Fest this year. Having already done virtual programming with Walton Arts Center’s Hearts to Homes series, though, they knew there must be a way to shift the region’s only beer, music and tech festival to a different format.
“I like to call it virtual with a twist,” reveals Amy Freeman, senior manager for sponsorship and special events at WAC and the AMP.
AMP Fest “To Go” will incorporate virtually accessible content livestreamed from the AMP, as well as an interactive component that will get participants out of the house — while maintaining the festival’s three core pillars. The scaled back event still features beer (and cider) from five regional breweries, a performance by local band The Juice, tech activation via smartphone and a talk from one of the tech sponsors, while the whole event is hosted by local comedian Raj Suresh.
“We started really thinking, how can we creatively keep doing what we’re doing?” Freeman shares. “It’s an important fundraiser for the Walton Arts Center. And now more than ever, we need the support of our community. We want to continue to be able to offer our education and our access programming, which is what AMP Fest supports, as well as give the community something to look forward to. I think everybody is looking for that thing they can go do outside of their home, but do it safely.”
So, instead of meandering the backstage and others areas of the AMP, ticketholders will pick up their info packet and swag bag on Oct. 23 or 24 and, via the AMP Fest phone app developed by VMLY&R, will find instructions and clues for completing a brewery scavenger hunt on Oct. 24 to acquire all the beer samples. Don’t drink them yet, though!
Oct. 25 is when the virtual portion of the event begins. Local master brewers will discuss the beers provided for sampling, how they are made, what they pair with and what makes them unique. That’s the time to imbibe the samples — during the virtual tasting event from the comfort of home. A tech talk and demonstration by Samsung, plus the performance by The Juice rounds out the fest.
“One thing that we are very fortunate to do is we’re going live from the AMP, therefore we have access to our video walls,” Freeman says. “We’re going to have those video walls set up behind the band, behind our host for the evening, and you’re going to be able to randomly see the people who are also on the Zoom with you on those video walls. It’s like when you’re at a concert at the AMP, and you look up and you’re like, ‘There’s my friends,’ or ‘There’s my coworker!’ You’re going to have that crowd engagement that I haven’t seen yet in some of our local virtual events, and it’s something I think is very special to us that we are going to be able to offer at this…