CINCINNATI -- Throughout the 300,000-square foot space of the Duke Energy Convention Center on Thursday, workers were making the final touches on the facility that has been given its annual transformation into a Reds-themed extravaganza -- from the red carpet and booths to a Reds main stage and the larger-than-ever social media heavy "Reds Connect Zone" area.
Redsfest runs on Friday from 3-10:30 p.m. ET and continues Saturday from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Activities will include autograph and photo booths with current and former players, interactive games, game-used and authentic memorabilia and more.
"For me, it's a chance for the fans to see that we're normal people," Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "They can come up and talk to us and have normal conversations with everybody. It's fun to get out and see the fans on more of a personal level than during the season. It's tough when you're so locked in and focused during the season on the task at hand and playing that you don't get to sign every autograph. You don't get to have every conversation with fans."
All proceeds from Redsfest benefit the baseball-themed outreach programs of the Reds Community Fund. For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to reds.com/redsfest.
Barnhart, along with All-Star left fielder Adam Duvall, were taking part in a Redsfest media tour throughout Thursday, including the Wiffle ball area for kids and players.
"If I was a kid, I'd probably be out on the Wiffle ball field," Duvall said. "If I was a parent with a kid, I'd probably let my kids play and walk around and enjoy meeting the players, taking pictures with them, get some autographs and just enjoy the whole thing."
With no inclement weather in the forecast this weekend, the Reds were hoping for a good turnout from fans. A season-ticket holder event with former manager Lou Piniella on Wednesday drew 900 fans, which Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini found encouraging.
"We expect it to be another strong showing," Castellini said. "We've spread the show out [again] to all three levels of the convention center. We think it makes for a better experience, especially for the families with strollers and all of that jazz. There's lots to do for the kids, and of course, lots of autographs."
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.