GRAND RAPIDS — A consensus was had in a small group standing on the south side of Founders Brewing Co. Saturday during the brewery’s seventh annual Founders Fest.

Although the group of four admittedly hadn’t been to many other city’s street festivals, they were adamant Grand Rapids throws some of the best in the country.

A few had said they had been to a festival in Chicago, another in Indianapolis and still another in Toronto. But those were just street festivals, akin to Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts.

But when they look at what Founders has created and the month’s earlier Local First Street Party, Grand Rapids continues to foster community growth and togetherness by offering a place where residents can come together and share local products, art, music, beer and time together.

All day Grand Rapids drinkers were treated to plenty of Founders beers on the year’s longest day.

A brief conversation with Brent Shirey, the guitarist and vocalist from Grand Rapids’ Valentiger, came to the conclusion that Founders has come a long way since it started making beer in the mid-90s, in the fact that it can bring together more than 6,000 people on a hot Saturday, all having a great time. (Valentiger played a heck of set to help start the day out, by the way. The band also has a new album available for preorder.)

Founders has turned into a very representative look at Grand Rapids. On any given day, one can visit the taproom and see a wide assortment of residents, young and old. The company has put the Grand Rapids name in front of consumers worldwide, making it a desirable tourist destination.

Staple Founders beer poured all day, and specialties were released throughout the day to provide attendees special treats. Local food and art vendors sprinkled the streets that wrap around Founders with two music stages anchoring the far south side of the festival grounds.

Eight music acts took the stage over the festivals course, including local and national acts, including the FBC All-Stars, made up entirely of Founders employees.

Meanwhile, Charles Bradley & His Extraoridnaires rocked the faces off thousands. The 65-year-old former James Brown impersonator has turned into a rapidly rising R&B and soul performer.

The music acts and a toast by Founders Brewing Co. founders Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens was broadcast in 13 bars across the brewery’s distribution footprint for those who couldn’t come. The bars all were serving a wide array of Founders beer.

More can be found, including a video with head brewer Jeremy Kosmicki talking about the development All Day IPA, at

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery