Sweetgreen Grows Sustainable Music Festival, Attracts 16,000 Despite Rain

By D. Channing Muller May 6, 2011, 1:45 PM EDT

Photo: SPREADHouse

Sweetlife Festival 2011
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Washington eatery Sweetgreen hosted its fourth annual Sweetlife festival on Sunday, with big-name acts like Lupe Fiasco, Girl Talk, and headliners the Strokes. The sustainable music festival grew exponentially from 750 people in its Dupont Circle store’s parking lot last year to more than 16,000 people at Merriweather Post Pavilion, despite the consistent rain.

“This started as a block party in our parking lot and got considerably bigger this year, with a new venue and bigger name bands,” said Jonathan Neman, one of Sweetgreen’s three founders. “Music is a big aspect [of our brand] and something we love personally, so it’s a great avenue for us to reach customers and show you can throw a festival in a sustainable way.”

The company partnered with O-Power, an energy efficiency and smart-grid software company, to calculate the event’s carbon footprint and offset it through means like an on-site activation with guests riding bicycles to create energy. Additionally, Sweetgreen worked with Charm City Hospitality, Eat to the Beat, and Applegate Farms to overhaul the concession stands and serve only organic meat in its burgers, hot dogs, and other sandwiches and wraps.

Along with the move, Sweetgreen sold tickets for the first time, with $55 providing general admission to the first-come, first-serve lawn seating and $100 getting you into the V.I.P. area to the left of the stage (which sold out). Sponsors like Stoneyfield Farms and PopChips provided complimentary snacks to guests. Additionally, table tennis company Joola sponsored a gaming area with multiple ping-pong tables that remained occupied throughout the day. Nearby on the grass, AFR Event Furnishings created a lounge area with multiple groupings of heavy-duty red plastic club chairs and rattan sofas with cream couches.

The festival raised funds for the Jamie Oliver Foundation, a charity that promotes healthy eating.

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