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2023 Award of Merit: Pilot Mountain

Updated: Apr 1

The Pilot Mountain Outdoor Adventure Festival & Expo

2023 NC Main Street Award: Promotion

Best Downtown Special Event or Event Series

  • The Parenting PATH

  • White Elephant Beer Company

  • Pilot Mountain Main Street Coordinating Committee

  • Town of Pilot Mountain



The Pilot Mountain Outdoor Adventure Festival & Expo is a multi-day, multi-location event meant to highlight vendors and small-scale manufacturers from the outdoor recreation industry in a street festival setting, while highlighting the unique characteristics of downtown, leverage the community’s natural assets, and to showcase the town’s unique mountain vibe through music and the arts by hosting live performances with a mix of local and nationally recognized musicians.


The Pilot Mountain Main Street Program established an economic development strategy to develop downtown as a basecamp for outdoor recreation. The festival and expo is a promotion action to help downtown Pilot Mountain leverage the estimated one million annual visitors to the nearby Pilot Mountain State Park and expand their growing outdoor recreation economy.


Town of Pilot Mountain staff pulled in key partners to help organize the event. White Elephant Beer Company is experienced in large scale entertainment logistics, and local nonprofit, the Parenting Path, experienced in recruiting and managing sponsor relationships. The Pilot Mountain Outdoor Adventure Festival and Expo committee was established, and the tasks were divided among vendor relations, food and beverage, entertainment, and special activities. Partnerships with Pilot Mountain State Park, the local library, tourism groups and area nonprofits were formed to help coordinate activities such as rock climbing, a 5K, nature walks, yoga classes and a disc golf tournament. The event cost $180,000 dollars. Forty sponsors produced $40,000 dollars in monetary support and $30,000 dollars of in-kind services, and the remainder of the funds were generated from registration fees, promotional items, and concert revenue.

Vendors who sold or made sporting goods, clothing, or shoes needed for outdoor activities were also recruited to participate in the event.


18,000 people attended the three-day event. Placer AI estimated that 10% of the attendees were local and 90% were from visitors from more than 30 minutes away. On average, attendees came to the event as a party of 2.5 people. The local attendees spent on average $100 dollars per group, while the out-of-town visitors spent on average $350 dollars per group, equating to $2.3 million in local spending.













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