CINCINNATI -- Forget calm before the storm. The Duke Energy Convention Center was bustling with activity on Thursday, as it often does the day before the opening of Redsfest.Workers were moving cherry pickers around to hang signage. Staff members were placing memorabilia and other items on shelving. The multimedia wall
CINCINNATI -- Forget calm before the storm. The Duke Energy Convention Center was bustling with activity on Thursday, as it often does the day before the opening of Redsfest.
Workers were moving cherry pickers around to hang signage. Staff members were placing memorabilia and other items on shelving. The multimedia wall over the main stage was lit up.
The 2018 installment of Redsfest runs Friday from 3-10:30 p.m. ET and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Over 70 current and former Reds players, coaches and broadcasters are scheduled to attend. That includes new manager David Bell and his coaching staff.
"This is one of my favorite times of the year," Reds right fielder Jesse Winker said. "You get to come here, you get to interact with all of the fans. It's just a lot of fun. I really look forward to it. My mom [Karen] is a big fan of it, so she makes sure to take off from work to come here for it. It's very cool."
Winker has been attending Redsfest even before he reached the Major Leagues in 2017. The organization often has some of its top prospects attend so fans can get acquainted with them and the players can get a taste of what may be awaiting them in Cincinnati.
It always amazed Winker that fans already knew about his career -- even when he was playing in the Minors.
"You see how much the Reds matter to everybody," Winker said. "And once you get to the city, it's a really, really special place to play ball. I think they really deserve a winning product. I think it's our time to give it to them."
Considered the largest team fan festival in Major League Baseball, Redsfest is a family event for all ages that offers opportunities for autographs, photos, games and more. Since the Reds will be celebrating their 150th anniversary season in 2019, the theme of Redsfest will celebrate the team's legacy through the years.
This will be pitcher Sal Romano's fourth time attending Redsfest, even though he didn't debut in the Majors until 2017.
"It's getting that opportunity to step back off the field and get to interact with these fans," Romano said. "They've been along for the ride for a while now and a couple of losing seasons in a row. For them to stay with us, believe in us and to support us, this is the time to tell them thank you and answer their questions and stuff like that. You don't get that opportunity much during the season when you're on the field because you're obviously there to work."
Tickets for Redsfest are available on reds.com/redsfest.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.