CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Reds are coming off the second-worst season in franchise history, but they still have at least one reason to celebrate.
Redsfest is back.
After a two-year hiatus induced by the COVID pandemic, the franchise’s two-day, off-season fan festival returns this weekend at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati.
Redsfest is scheduled to open Friday at 3 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m. before resuming Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed on Saturday by the annual Rick Steiner Celebrity Poker tournament, a Texas Hold ‘Em competition featuring more than 450 players and celebrities which already is sold out.
Karen Forgus can’t remember being this excited since she was a kid.
“We would go once a year to Kings Island,” the Reds senior vice president of business operations said Thursday afternoon during a media preview. “I was feeling very nostalgic yesterday when we were here training volunteers.”
More than 70 current and former Reds players, along with broadcasters, members of the front office and minor leaguers, are expected to be on hand to sign autographs, pose with fans for photos and participate in interactive programs during the event.
Fans also will have the opportunity to purchase game tickets and memorabilia, swing bats in a batting cage, have the speed of their pitches measured and enjoy other carnival-type games, as well as relax in a sports bar-type area.
“I’m looking forward to the game-used (equipment) area,” Forgus said. “Remember, we’ve been stockpiling stuff for two years.”
The Main Stage schedule includes Kids Only press conferences, “Are You Smarter Than A Reds Head Member?,” “Reds Feud,” and on Friday at 8 p.m. the presentation of the Reds team awards – the Ernie Lombardi Most Valuable Player, the Johnny Vander Meer Most Outstanding Pitcher Award and the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award.
On Saturday at 12:45 p.m., Zac Brown Band members John Driskell Hopkins, Jimmy De Martini, Danny De Los Reyes and Matt Mangano will participate in a question-and-answer session before performing a concert.
The band is scheduled to perform at a post-game concert on June 2 at Great American Ball Park to benefit the Hop On A Cure Foundation, which was founded by Hopkins after he was diagnosed with ALS – also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It supports research toward a cure while raising awareness about the disease. Game time that day has been moved up to 5:10 p.m.
Cincinnati’s minor leaguers are expected to participate in three service projects while they’re in town, including visits to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the FreeStore Foodbank.
Forgus said General Manager Nick Krall and members of the team’s baseball operations department would be participating in Main Stage question-and-answer sessions on both days, at 7:10 p.m. on Friday and 11:20 a.m. on Saturday.
“We owe the fans that – kind of a state of the Reds program,” she said. “They’ll talk about what we’ve been doing and why. That’s a gift.”
Forgus said that, for this year anyway, there’s not much new with Redsfest from previous years.
“We just brought it back bigger,” she said.
One-day passes cost $25 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and younger. Two-day passes cost $35 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased and more Redsfest information can be found at www.reds.com/redsfest.
Redsfest proceeds benefit the franchise’s Community Fund.