Updated: Feb 7, 2022
In the category of PROMOTION, Best Downtown Special Event or Event Series, an Award of Merit is presented to: Cheerwine and the City of Salisbury for The 2019 Cheerwine Festival.
The Cheerwine Festival, held in May, is a street festival that celebrates all things Cheerwine, a unique, fizzy, wild cherry-flavored soft drink created in Salisbury. The event is a collaborative effort between Cheerwine, owned by the Carolina Beverage Corporation, and the City of Salisbury. They work together to coordinate all festival details including event infrastructure, vendors, entertainment, and merchandise.
In 2017, Cheerwine held a 100 Years of Cheer Centennial Celebration that was intended to be a one-time occurrence. The one-day event attracted 30,000 people. Its overwhelming success encouraged organizers to establish an annual event known as the Cheerwine Festival.
The 2019 Cheerwine Festival saw significant growth, with 60,000 attendees and increased downtown business participation. Businesses were encouraged to set up on their front sidewalks, decorate storefronts in celebration of the Cheerwine Festival, become temporary pop-up shops for Cheerwine merchandise, and create Cheerwine-inspired products and items to sell in their retail and restaurant establishments.
The number of vendors also increased in 2019, from 29 to 80. And a Carolina Brands Sampling Area was added to the festival. Sponsored by Salisbury-based Food Lion, it included North Carolina based companies that provided product samples to festival goers. Participating companiesincluded: Cook Out Restaurant, House-Autry Mills, Renwood Mills, Cackalacky, Incorporated, Lindy’s Homemade Italian Ice, JoJo’s Homestyle Foods, Mooresville Ice Cream, and, of course, Food Lion.
The festival had shifted to a volunteer group model for 2019, which resulted in a major increase in volunteer assistance. Volunteer opportunities were available to civic and service groups only. The 2018 festival had 23 volunteers while the 2019 festival had 90 volunteers representing nine civic and service groups.
The 2019 Cheerwine Festival generated approximately $1.53 million of economic impact for the community. In addition to having a direct impact on the Downtown and surrounding area, the event has a charitable contribution component. One hundred percent of the funds from beverage sales in the official Cheerwine tents on the day of the event go to a selected charitable organization.
Meals on Wheels of Rowan County received a $7,500 donation as result of the 2019 Cheerwine Festival.