About the Festival

About the Festival

Enjoy Florida's Fizziest Festival

An Award-Winning Event!

Is there a better way to celebrate soda than with a festival?  Float on over to the 5th Annual Sebring Soda Festival, April 7-8, 2023, to properly research the matter.  With a family-friendly party atmosphere, more than 200 craft sodas to sample, craft beer & wine, live music and festive food, this is the fizziest festival in all of Florida.

 

The Sebring Soda Festival is a niche event  It has and continues to garner local, state and national media attention due to the uniqueness of the event and the local Soda Shop that helped launch the idea.  This media attention is part of what attracts people to the festival each year.

 

The two-day festival, which is held in historic downtown Sebring, is a celebration of craft sodas and good, old-fashioned fun.  If you enjoy scrumptious sips, bring your friends, family and even your dog to Sebring and pop in for an experience that is ‘sodalicious.’ 

Check out this video from a visitor from our 2022 Festival 

The festival will feature traditional sodas, like colas, ginger ales, root beers, and cream sodas, plus countless unique sodas you can’t find in stores, including flavors like caramel apple, prickly pear, espresso, peach cobbler, candied bacon, key lime, cucumber, pepper soda, and more. And everyone loves to re-visit the many vintage favorites featured at the festival, such as Cheerwine, Moxie and RC Cola. 

 

Most of the sodas at the Festival are made in small batches and most are made with real sugar or honey (no high fructose corn syrup). They come from all over the U.S. and many from small towns. Sodas from companies like Avery's Beverages (New Britain, CT), Sprecher Brewing Company (Glendale, WI), Fest Cola (New Orleans, LA), Boylan Bottling Company (New York, NY), Cheerwine (Salisbury, NC) Durango Soda Company (Durango, CO) and others will be available for tasting. Many of the soda makers and bottlers will be in attendance.

 

The festival will kick off on Friday, April 7th with the Fizzy Family Fun Night from 5-9 PM, and will include an outdoor fun including entertainment, a silent disco, family fun & games, sampling of 50 + soda tastings (Soda Tasting Tickets REQUIRED), and more. 

The actual Soda Tasting & Main Event will take place on Saturday, April 8th from 11am-6pm, with a block party style concert taking place from 6pm-9pm. Soda Tasting Tickets, which are required to taste the 200+ sodas (different then the ones on Friday night), are available for purchase. There will also be vendors, shopping, a jam-packed entertainment schedule, food trucks and more.

History of the Sebring Soda Festival

 

In 2017, Jeff Cannady, the original owner of Sebring Soda & Ice Cream Works, approached Casey Hartt for the second time about hosting a Soda Festival in downtown Sebring. The first time it was discussed, Casey was with the Sebring CRA. This time, Casey had transitioned to the TDC as the Lead Marketing Consultant. Jeff showed a video of a Soda Festival in a small town in Illinois and how popular it was. After watching the video, Casey agreed with Jeff that it would be a great event to duplicate in Sebring, especially as we had the added ‘cachet’ of an actual soda shop located in downtown.

 

Casey knew neither the TDC or the CRA could be the entity to coordinate and execute the event, but they could help get it off the ground.  After a meeting with the Sebring Chamber of Commerce, Casey thought the Chamber would be the perfect organization to ‘do’ the event.  It would be something for the community to rally around (more than just your average golf tournament), it would showcase the Chamber in a proactive way with local businesses; bring new visitors to Sebring where they would spend money at local establishments; help the Chamber raise funds; and give the Chamber’s non-profit members a way to get involved and promote their causes (the Illinois Soda Festival used volunteers from nonprofits to man the tasting booths, so that is where we got the idea).

 

Jeff from the Soda Shop was instrumental in getting the festival off the ground the first year.  He was the idea guy, but he also knew the ins and outs of the soda business, how to connect with the bottlers/distributors and helped us create the first tasting list, order the sodas, etc. Without Jeff’s help, insights and connections, the Soda Festival would not have been feasible.

 

The group created a great four-prong team made up of the Sebring Chamber, Soda Shop, TDC and CRA.  They held countless meetings to figure out how this first festival would work and how each team member could help.  Each of the four team members invested a lot of time, energy, and passion into the first edition of the festival. 

 

The TDC created a Sebring Soda Fest landing page on its website and secured the domain SebringSodaFest.com.  The TDC also booked the festival on two TV shows in Tampa at no cost to the Soda Festival.  Jeff was gracious enough to provide the sodas that were tasted during the TV segments. The TDC also did some online and print marketing campaigns to help launch and promote the festival.  It was helpful to point out that even if you could not attend the festival, the Sebring Soda shop was open year-round for anyone wanting to explore the world of craft sodas. The Soda Shop also heavily promoted the festival in-store ahead of the event as clients of the store would likely be interested in attending the festival.

 

The first Festival in 2018 was a huge success with thousands of attendees, and rave reviews. People wanted to know when the next one would take place.  Everyone involved was very happy their big leap of faith paid off!

 

A few months after the first Soda Festival, organizers got word that Jeff was going to close the Soda Shop due to health issues. We were devastated. It seemed that all our hard work creating an event based on the fun little Soda Shop was going to be for nothing. While the Soda Festival could go on, we knew having the Soda Shop in downtown Sebring helped the ‘story’ of the Soda Festival and allowed people to enjoy sodas year-round and not just on one weekend a year. 

 

A few weeks after the news broke out that the Soda Shop would be closing, the current owners decided to make an offer to Jeff to purchase it  -  they didn't like the idea of losing such a great assett! Soon after, Liz & Daniel Barber became the 2nd owners of the Sebring Soda Shop in 2018 and still own it today!