Each year as December rolls around, baseball is usually an afterthought in the minds of fans in most Major League cities. Fans are preparing themselves for the holiday season and have switched their focus to the college football bowl season, their favorite NFL teams and other college allegiances.
But in Cincinnati, December marks the coming of one of the greatest fan events in all of sports: Redsfest.
Redsfest 2012 is being held December 7-8 at the Duke Energy Center in downtown Cincinnati. You can bet the event is guaranteed to be the epicenter of a city that is full of holiday traditions.
Why you ask? Accessibility.
The guest lists already includes 20 players from the 2012 MLB roster—including major stars Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Aroldis Chapman and Bronson Arroyo. Then there's the list of eight minor league prospects that includes super-prospect Billy Hamilton. We can't forget to mention the eight coaches (including manager Dusty Baker), the 16 former players (many in the Reds HOF), and the seven rock star broadcast crew members (including Marty & Thom Brennaman).
All of these guests arrive ready and willing to define the fan experience. From the meet and greets, to the autograph sessions with nearly every player, to the Q&A sessions, the opportunities to interact with the players and personnel from the Reds' organization are plentiful.
You might think an event like this would put a dent in the family budget, but you would be wrong. Adult admission is $17 while kids 4-12 years old get in for a mere $7 for one day, with prices at $25 and $12 respectively for a 2-day pass. The best part is admission covers everything on the schedule—and it's a jam-packed schedule.
Where many other such events fall short by requiring fans to pay extra for those autographs and meet and greets, the Cincinnati Reds figure you already paid enough at the door.
Oftentimes after players have finished with their signing sessions, you can find them mingling in the crowd, engaging with fans.
I can remember my first Redsfest, walking through the crowd and bumping into Reds legend Lee May. The next year I ended up having a short conversation with Chris Sabo. Then there was the time that Ken Griffey gave my son some batting advice—completely willing to step aside and chat with the five-year-old.
What I'm trying to get at is this: These are just my own personal experiences. The opportunities are plenty for anyone to make their own such memories.
As if the event isn't cool enough for adults and kids alike, the organization is always looking to improve it. Each year, new features are being added. Did we mention the baseball fields that can now be found inside—wiffle ball anyone? Or the third floor that is being added this year and dedicated to kids' activities?
The Cincinnati Reds organization is a class act. Their attempt to reach out to fans and give them access to their team goes far above that of any other organization.
If you have not yet attended a Redsfest, you should. Check out the Redsfest homepage and discover the full list of events and scheduled appearances. Also, be sure to share your thoughts about Redsfest below.
You can follow Josh Ramsey on Twitter @JRamCincy