‘New dynamism to downtown’: Salisbury social district debuts Friday

By Ben Stansell

Map of the new downtown social district. Graphic by Andy Mooney, Salisbury Post.

SALISBURY — After months of discussion and preparation, Downtown Salisbury’s new social district will start on Friday.

The district will allow consumers to purchase alcoholic beverages from state-licensed businesses and restaurants and walk around a designated area downtown. Drinks must be carried in specially-marked cups. 

“We are optimistic about the impact of the (district) on downtown businesses and the community in general,” said Sada Stewart Troutman, director of Downtown Salisbury Inc. “As other communities who have implemented a social district have seen, we hope this is an opportunity to bring new dynamism to downtown.

The boundaries of the social district, which generally include several city blocks around the heart of downtown, will be marked with signs. A boundary map also is available on the Downtown Salisbury website, and accessed via the QR code on all social district signs. Drinks must be consumed within the social district and before entering any vehicle.

Bell Tower Green is included in the social district, but the park does play by slightly different rules. Visitors may stroll within the district Monday through Sunday between noon and midnight but within Bell Tower Green park on Monday through Sunday, as follows:

• Nov. 1 through March 1: between 5 p.m. and park closing

• March 2 through Oct. 31: between 6 p.m. and park closing

City staff has installed social district boundary signs in downtown. The social district will allow consumers to walk around certain parts of downtown with special-marked cups containing alcoholic beverages.

Picture of Social District Sign
City staff has installed social district boundary signs in downtown. The social district will allow consumers to walk around certain parts of downtown with special-marked cups containing alcoholic beverages. Ben Stansell/Salisbury Post

Alcoholic beverages may not be consumed or sold during and within the boundary of a public street festival, during a special event sponsored by the City of Salisbury, or within the boundary of Bell Tower Green park when the event is permitted and held per city ordinance. This does not prohibit the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages within Bell Tower Green park pursuant to a properly licensed and permitted event.

Downtown Salisbury Inc. has been leading the push to create the district since the state legislature last year passed a bill allowing for the districts in an effort to bring business back downtown after the COVID-19 pandemic. Kannapolis was quick to establish a social district of its own in the fall and other towns and cities have followed suit.

Stewart Troutman said the organization is “thrilled that Downtown Salisbury is able to have a social district, and see this as a privilege that will enhance the experience of our downtown for residents, visitors and business owners.”

The Salisbury City Council endorsed the district after Downtown Salisbury Inc. held several public input and education sessions with stakeholders and Salisbury residents.

“With the preparation we have done, we expect the (social district) to be a positive environment for all participants, and thank everyone in advance for working with Downtown Salisbury as we get this off the ground,” Stewart Troutman said.

There are 12 business currently signed on to participate in the district, including La Cava, Carpe Vinum 121, New Sarum Brewing, Sweet Meadow Cafe, Go Burrito, Salty Caper, Shug’s, Shuckin’ Shack, City Tavern, Bangkok Downtown, The Fish Bowl and Bottle and Can.

Other businesses will allow alcoholic drinks in their stores, but will not sell them. Participating businesses, including retailers that allow drinks into their stores, will feature a “Downtown Salisbury Social District” sticker at the door/window.

Stewart Troutman expects the list of participants to grow over time.

“We have new businesses in the pipeline who have already said they are excited to participate when they open, and some existing businesses who may join after they are able to educate staff or assess the operation of the district, so I do think more will begin to participate as time goes on,” she said.

Chris Ostle, co-owner of The Fish Bowl, said the bar is approaching the social district with caution. At least for the time being, Ostle said The Fish Bowl will only offer social district drinks on certain days.

Paul Bardinas, co-owner of Carpe Vinum 121, doesn’t expect the new social district to have a major impact on the fine-dining restaurant, but he does think it will “liven up downtown a bit” and provide a boost to other restaurants and bars. Bardinas said the district could prove to be “great for our community” by promoting more downtown foot traffic.

Violations of social district rules should be reported to the Salisbury Police Department at 911.

For more information, lists of participating businesses and rules and regulations, go to downtownsalisburync.com/socialdistrict.

History on Tap: Visitors get chance to see progress on The Salisbury renovation

By Elisabeth Strillacci

SALISBURY — The Historic Salisbury Foundation welcomed the return of the History on Tap (H.O.T.) series Thursday when more than 300 people toured the former Southern Bell building on West Council .

The series, in its eighth year, entails an open house at a historic building or structure the fourth or last Thursday of June, July and August. Attendees sample cold beer from New Sarum while getting an insider’s view of some of the city’s historic spots.

The first tour site of the summer, The Salisbury, is currently in the midst of renovation into 12 apartments from the former Southern Bell phone company building. Constructed in the late 1920s, the three-story building at 121 W. Council St. had not been touched since 1985, but Josh Barnhardt, who had been hearing the stories of the building’s former glory from his grandmother, Edith Thompson, saw more than a little worth salvaging. Thompson was a switchboard operator at Southern Bell starting in the 1940s, and would often regale her family with stories from her time in the beautiful art deco building.

With the renovations, all the essentials, such as electrical, plumbing and flooring are new, but the architectural details that set the building apart remain. Six apartments are one-bedroom units and six have two bedrooms. The historic outside of the building along with numerous interior details are being restored or maintained, making it an ideal stop on the summer tour.

“Whitney Wallace was the instigator of History on Tap in the beginning,” noted Sherry Beck of the Historic Salisbury Foundation. “One of our goals as an organization is to become more diverse in our events, reaching out and bringing in families and the wider community. And we take a lot of pride in finding locations that show off some of our local historic structures and learn about the history of our town.”

Renovation of The Salisbury, as it was originally named, began on the third floor and the first tenants were originally scheduled to move in June 1, but as with nearly all ongoing construction right now, delivery of materials, along with a few other issues, have caused delays.

Jimmy and Linda Thompson, who have lived in Rowan County all of their lives, will be two of the first tenants, having signed a lease on the first apartment at the top of the stairs on the third floor. Their living room windows look out on the front lawn of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which Jimmy said was just what he wanted.

“He absolutely loves this view,” Linda said. The couple currently live on High Rock Lake in Davidson County, but have missed living downtown, where they can walk to everything. They were the first people to purchase a unit in the Kress Building, and Linda said living there taught them everything they did — and did not — want in moving back downtown.

“We wanted a place to park, and an outdoor space of some kind,” she said. The Salisbury will have a rooftop community gathering space, and a designated parking lot just beside the building. “It hit all the things we wanted.” She said they anticipate in four to five years, they will sell the lake house and live solely in the Salisbury. She was chatting with friends during the open house about decorating in art deco style to coordinate the decor in communal areas and to work with the style of the building, though she said she is trying to be patient as the new move-in  date of Sept. 1.

Kimberly Steig of Historic Salisbury said the next open house is scheduled for July 28 at The Old Textile Products Building at 121 N. Main St., and is nearly full already, so anyone interested should register quickly. Free registration is available from the website at HistoricSalisbury.org.

“We have quite a few people who have figured out that we fill up fast and they’ve gone ahead and registered for all three,” she said. “We didn’t quite anticipate how fast this would fill, but we’re certainly thrilled that so many people are coming out!”

City of Salisbury hosts open house on Fisher Street bridge possibilities

By Madeline Wagoner

SALISBURY — Community members gathered Thursday in City Hall for an interactive discussion with planning and public works officials for a presentation on the future of the East Fisher Street bridge.

According to Community Planning Director Hannah Jacobson, what people have to say about the options will be presented to City Council in August to show how they would like to move forward with reviving the historic bridge.

Poster boards outlined the ideas and goals put together by the city, including reopening the bridge for vehicular traffic in two years or turning it into a pedestrian bridge with added design features as a safe gateway to downtown. Posters had blank squares for people to place a sticker under the option they liked best, including what additions they would like to see in the finished product.

Public Works Director Craig Powers said the pedestrian option could open more opportunities for tourism in Salisbury as it would renovate the bridge while offering an option to walk downtown to support businesses.

“Bridge permits take a long time to obtain,” he said. “As far as repairing the bridge, a vehicular bridge would require more frequent maintenance. If you have bikes and people, it wouldn’t need it as often.”

A pedestrian bridge could also include bench seating, public art, festive/colored lights, planters and greenery, educational signs and historic markers, ballards and painted pathways. New lights got the most votes, while painted pathways only had one.

Jacobson said ultimately City Council members will have the last word for the bridge’s future, but the community can help them make the best decision.

Another poster board was designated for public comments on how closing the bridge has affected residents. Some people said it helped ease traffic on Fisher Street; others noted it has been difficult to make deliveries and that East Bank Street traffic has built up.

Acey Worthy, a property owner on East Bank Street, said it wouldn’t bring in tourism like the city is hoping due to lack of parking and who is coming to the area.

“If a mom wanted to take her daughter to the bridge, she’d have to park in front of Autozone,” he said. “To get to downtown, she’s not going to cross this bridge.”

While voting for either option was split down the middle, with eight votes on each proposed idea, several people voiced that they would like to see the bridge transformed for vehicular purposes.

“The idea is great, but as it’s gone on, it’s only gotten worse and worse,” said Jeremy Tatum, another property owner on East Bank Street. “I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but is there really a light, or will we be hitting a brick wall?”

A community member wrote on the comment poster that making it a pedestrian bridge would help with safety, by limiting the streets with cars.

Planning and public works officials also included estimated values to the poster board, where repairing the bridge for vehicles would cost an estimated $900,000 and the pedestrian option would cost an estimated $150,000 to $200,000. For driving, it would take two years to reopen; the walking and biking option would take an estimated 18 months. The I-beams would eventually need to be repaired, even if made into a pedestrian walkway.

“These beams have to be custom-made into almost a C-shape to fit the bridge,” Powers said.

Once City Council makes a decision, planning and public works will apply for grants and gather estimates before moving forward.

Downtown Salisbury Social District Goes Into Effect July 1st

June 23, 2022  Marvin BeachSamantha Gilstrap

Beginning Friday, visitors to downtown Salisbury can walk around with their alcoholic beverage of choice thanks to the execution of a new social district.

The Downtown Salisbury Social District (DSSD) becomes official Friday, July 1st, after months of preparation, discussion, merchant information sessions and final City Council approval.

A social district is designated area in which alcoholic beverages are allowed to be carried in open containers on the street.

Salisbury’s Social District follows the passing of the Bring Business Back to Downtown Bill by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, which officials say aims to increase economic vitality in downtowns across North Carolina.

In the new social district, visitors will be able to buy an alcoholic beverage in a special DSSD cup from an ABC-permitted, participating business.

Participating businesses, including retailers that allow drinks into their stores, will feature a “Downtown Salisbury Social District” sticker at the door/window, according to a news release.

Officials say DSSD boundary signs will be posted along the route over the next few days.

A boundary map also is available on the Downtown Salisbury website, and accessed via the QR code on all social district signs.

Officials say drinks must be consumed within the social district and before entering any vehicle.

Visitors may stroll within the district Monday through Sunday between 12 p.m. and 12 a.m., and within Bell Tower Green Park, Monday through Sunday, as follows:

  • November 1st through March 1st: between 5 p.m. and park closing.
  • March 2nd through October 31st: between 6 p.m. and park closing.

Officials say alcoholic beverages may not be consumed or sold during and within the boundary of a public street festival, during a special event sponsored by the City of Salisbury, or within the boundary of Bell Tower Green Park when the event is permitted and held per city ordinance.

This does not prohibit the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages within Bell Tower Green Park pursuant to a properly licensed and permitted event, according to a news release.

Click here for more information on rules and regulations for The Downtown Salisbury Social District.

Downtown Salisbury mourns loss of popular street artist

On the left, a picture of Joseph from a past WBTV story, on the right, flowers on the bench he occupied most every day.(David Whisenant-WBTV)

Joseph Heilig passed away on Saturday

By David Whisenant

On the left, a picture of Joseph from a past WBTV story, on the right, flowers on the bench he occupied most every day.(David Whisenant-WBTV)
On the left, a picture of Joseph from a past WBTV story, on the right, flowers on the bench he occupied most every day.(David Whisenant-WBTV)

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) – Joseph Heilig’s studio was the sidewalk.

Every day he sat on a bench in front of Fuller’s Market on South Main Street in Salisbury, working on his drawings and taking the time to speak with anyone who wanted a conversation.

On Monday night there were flowers placed on that bench and a hand-painted sign with angel wings carried the message “RIP Joe.” According to a friend, Joseph Heilig, 65, passed away at the hospital on Saturday night.

“So sorry to hear of his death! May he Rest In Peace!” Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander posted on a WBTV social media page.ADVERTISEMENT

“He was a very talented man! So gifted! I always enjoyed stopping by & talking with Joe!” said Susan Beeker. “Rest In Peace Joseph Heilig!”

“Joe always had a kind word for me as I patrolled downtown,” wrote retired Salisbury Police Officer Lynn Foster. “Rest In Peace my friend. I will miss you.”

“Oh no!! I’m so shocked,” wrote another well-known local artist, Cherathee Hager. “Joe was one of those rare individuals who never met a stranger. He was beyond amazing as an artist and even more so as a kind soul. I have known him for years but we became close friends when I started painting storefront windows in Downtown Salisbury. I always welcomed his visits and enjoyed looking at his current artwork. There will always be a huge empty space in our little city and no one will be able to ever fill his big shoes. I certainly hope his family preserves his artwork and that our city finds a location to share it with everyone to enjoy for years to come. RIP my friend.”

In a WBTV story from several years ago, Heilig said he grew up in the Queensbridge housing project of Long Island City, N.Y. He attended art school in New York. Heilig moved to Salisbury, his mother’s hometown, in 1999. He’s been a familiar sight in downtown Salisbury for at least 10 years.


‘A Salisbury for all’: New city manager plans to focus on balanced, equitable growth

By Ben Stansell

SALISBURY — James “Jim” Greene Jr. is well-acquainted with the pressures that come with municipal growth.

During a 15-year tenure with Concord that started in 1999, Greene supervised numerous city departments first as assistant manager for operations and then as deputy city manager. Serving as Raleigh’s assistant city manager for the past eight years, he guided the planning and development departments of one of the state’s fastest growing municipalities.

At both stops, Greene helped cities adjust to increasing populations.

Greene, a native of Lenoir, plans to put those experiences to work as he settles into his new position as chief administrative officer of Salisbury, a city he believes is poised for progress.

“(Growth) is coming,” Greene said. “So, we have to start focusing on our growth and developing that vision. What do we want this growth to look like and how are we going to be prepared?”

New Salisbury City Manager Jim Greene Jr., middle, meets with city officials during his third day on the job. To Greene’s left is outgoing interim city manager Brian Hiatt and to his right is Assistant City Manager Zack Kyle. Ben Stansell/Salisbury Post

Selected for the position in April, Greene’s first day on the job was Monday. He assumes the role from Brian Hiatt, a former Concord city manager who had been serving in an interim capacity since Lane Bailey retired at the end of 2021. Hiatt will continue to work with the city in an advisory role until the end of June to see through the fiscal year 2022-23 budget he helped assemble.

The recommended budget was presented to council on Tuesday night. A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 6 p.m. on June 7 at council chambers, located in City Hall at 217 S. Main St.

As city manager, Greene will lead more than 400 full- and part-time employees, direct development and prepare and present the city’s annual budget. Greene said one of his top priorities is to carry out council’s vision for balanced growth that maintains Salisbury’s “special character” while also ensuring progress doesn’t leave parts of the community behind.

“The other thing I heard loud and clear from council was wanting to make sure that as we grow that this is a Salisbury for all,” he said. “That there are opportunities for all to pursue here in Salisbury and that, as a community and a local government, that we welcome everyone and help everyone pursue these opportunities.

An equitable approach to economic development, Greene said, will be critical to achieving that goal.

“We have to look for inclusive economic development opportunities,” he said. “So, when we’re recruiting industry and working on economic development, making sure that it’s diverse, that it provides opportunities for everyone in the community and there’s economic development throughout the community, not just in one area.”

The city, Greene said, also needs to plan for transportation infrastructure that works for everyone.

“Certainly transportation and traffic are always concerns about growth,” he said. “We need growth that is focused on walkability and neighborhoods.”

Greene said he wants to develop a strategic five-year plan to work in concert with the city’s Forward 2040 framework, a comprehensive plan for the next 20 years that is being developed.

Increased development will no doubt have an effect on city utilities such as water and sewer, Greene said. As of May 12, the city has issued 648 water/sewer tap permits, which puts it on pace to exceed the 687 permits issued in fiscal year 2020-21.

“We’ve got an excellent utilities department, but with the growth that we’re seeing, we need to look at our plans and make sure our infrastructure is able to support the growth that is coming,” Greene said. “Especially on the wastewater site, and this was talked about at the council retreat, is looking at opportunities to expand our treatment capacity so that we will be in a good position to handle this growth.”

As Salisbury naturally expands, Greene said he wants to ensure downtown remains vibrant.

“The downtown is like the core of the apple and if the core is rotten, the whole apple is rotten,” Greene said. “It impacts the whole community.”

With residential and commercial expansion comes an increased demand for public services like fire and police protection. Keeping those departments and others staffed is one of the most pressing issues facing Salisbury, Greene said.

In the coming weeks, the city expects to receive the results of a compensation and benefits study being conducted by Cary-based Management and Personnel Services Group. In the budget recommended to council Tuesday night, Hiatt called for establishing a $1.1 million compensation “bucket” within the Human Resources department to implement changes based on the study’s results.

Beyond competitive compensation and benefits, Greene said he wants to make sure employees feel valued and have pathways toward career advancement within Salisbury.

“Bottom line: we want Salisbury to be the employer of choice,” Greene said. “We want the talented folks in this region to see that there are a lot of exciting opportunities here at the city of Salisbury and encourage them to join.”

The city’s staff is one reason why Greene was willing to leave Raleigh.

“We have a great team here and that was one of the things that really attracted me to this position,” Greene said. “The employees here are known the be creative, dedicated and hardworking and I wanted to be a part of this team.”

Greene plans on meeting with plenty of city employees over the coming days. He plans to connect with community members as well.

“I’m trying to be a sponge over the next couple of weeks.”

South Main Book Company hosts Banned Book Read Out, fundraiser for Rowan County Literacy Council

Alissa Redmond Owner – South Main Book Company
W: 704-630-9788; c: 704-630-9788
southmainbookcompany@gmail.com www.southmainbookcompany.com

Books with diverse content (including, but not limited to, LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities) are generally overrepresented among banned and challenged books; in 2015, 9 of the 10 most challenged books fell into this category.

To bring awareness to a growing nationwide trend, and to raise funds for the Rowan County Literacy Council, South Main Book Company will host a “read-out” featuring Banned Books on Saturday May 28 at 1pm, and we invite you to participate!


A continuous public reading of a single or multiple banned books.


Select your favorite Banned Book; either bring your own copy or borrow one of ours; and read it aloud for a few minutes.


Ask our staff for recommendations – we are confident we have just the right book for you on our shelves.   If you’d like to prepare in advance, the American Library Association’s lists of the Top Ten Challenged Books (https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10) or Frequently Challenged Books (https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks) may provide some inspiration on which books to read from or talk about.


Yes!  By entering our raffle – through a $5 donation towards the Rowan County Literacy Council – you will receive a chance to win a bundle of challenging books right off our shelf!


Rowan County Literacy Council (RCLC) is dedicated to improving the lives of adults, youth and families by enhancing literacy and life skills, with the belief that a literate community prospers.  RCLC provides instruction to Rowan County residents of all ages.  As a non-profit organization, the Council’s primary focus is free and confidential, one-to-one tutoring by trained volunteer tutors.  Learn more about RCLC here: https://www.rcliteracy.org/


Window shopping: Interactive touchscreen provides new tool for prospective home buyers

By Ben Stansell

SALISBURY — A downtown Realtor is giving “window shopping” a new meaning.

The Jayne Helms Group with Re/Max Leading Edge has installed an interactive touchscreen on its window pane at 108 N. Main St. that allows customers to sift through available homes and properties in and around Rowan County — all while standing on the sidewalk in Salisbury.

“It’s kind of a unique thing,” Helms said.

Jayne Helms demonstrates the capabilitiesof the new touch-screen window at her real estate office in downtown Salisbury. Ben Stansell/Salisbury Post
Jayne Helms demonstrates the capabilities of the new touch-screen window at her real estate office in downtown Salisbury.. Ben Stansell/Salisbury Post

Helms said the touch-screen displays are popular in Europe and are starting to catch on in the States. She had never really heard of the device until she was approached by Premier Media Solutions, a company with offices in the United States and United Kingdom. The company installed the screen, which looks like a gigantic iPhone, a few months ago. The screen is available 24/7 for home buyers who want to do some home searching while the office itself is closed.

The screen may be somewhat of a novelty, but Helms said it’s an effective tool for home buyers or sellers. With a live feed of properties from both the Charlotte and Triad multiple listing services, the window gives customers the opportunity to scroll through dozens, if not hundreds, of homes currently on the market.

If a customer finds a property they’re interested in, they can submit an inquiry directly on the device. The inquiry is immediately forwarded to Helms’ office for follow up. Or, Helms said, interested customers can just pop into the office to ask about a property.

“It’s really been a great tool for us to get people to come in off the street,” Helms said.

And acting fast pays off in today’s real estate landscape, according to Helms.

“I put a house on the market two weeks ago and I got 16 offers in two days,” Helms said. 

The demand for homes, she said, is being driven by low inventory and relatively low interest rates.

“I’ve been doing this almost 20 years and we’ve never had such low inventory and high demand,” Helms said. “It’s really good. There’s never been a better time to sell a house than there is now. It’s hard to find one, but it’s a great time to sell.”

With mortgage rates projected to increase in the future, Helms said the home-buying frenzy could cool soon. No matter the market, buyers can search for their next home with a few taps of their fingers using the interactive touchscreen at Helms’ office.

Let’s make a deal: Local athlete, barber form unique partnership

Daniel King, right, and Jaden Gaither have struck a partnership. In exchange for free haircuts and merchandise, Gaither will represent King's barbershop brand when he goes off to play football at UNC Pembroke. Photo submitted.

By Ben Stansell

SALISBURY — The landscape of college sports was remade last year when the National Collegiate Athletic Association altered its rules to allow players to make money by leveraging their status as well-known athletes.

With the new Name, Image and Likeness rules — commonly referred to by the acronym NIL — athletes can now monetize their personal brands to a greater degree without fear of penalty from the NCAA. Since the floodgates were opened, players have wasted no time taking advantage of the new rules, or lack thereof. University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was said to have secured nearly seven figures in NIL deals even before he won the Heisman trophy in December.

A local athlete and his barber have decided to take part as well.

Jaden Gaither, a three-sport Salisbury High School athlete slated to play football at UNC Pembroke in the fall, struck a deal with Daniel King, a barber who works at Pure Vision Barber Studio in downtown Salisbury.

“I went to go get my haircut one day and we were having a conversation about NIL deals and he asked me if I wanted to do one with him,” Gaither said.

King, who goes by Smilezthabarber, will cut Gaither’s hair for free, provide him with gear featuring his branding and send him college care packages once he’s settled into his dorm room in Pembroke. King has a line of sweatshirts, shirts and hats that bear his logo and barber name. All Gaither has to do is represent King’s Smilezthabarber branding whenever he can.

“It’s to show people where he’s from and that I’m his barber when he comes home,” King said.

King has been cutting Gaither’s hair long before he was a 6-foot-1, 215-pound star linebacker for the Hornets.

“I’ve seen the transformation from him being little in elementary and middle school to being the size he is now,” King said.

Last year, Gaither had 92 tackles with 14 for loss for the Hornets during the team’s campaign to repeat as state champs. He also scored touchdowns on a blocked punt and a fumble return.

After the football season ended, Gaither found even more success on the mat. Grappling with competitors who outweighed him by almost 70 pounds, Gaither pinned several foes en route to winning the 2A State Wrestling Championship. This spring, Gaither has put his talents to use on the track and field team. Along with running the 200-meter dash and 4 x 100 meter relay, he threw discus and competed in shot put.

He won’t be wrestling or running track for UNC Pembroke, but Gaither does plan on making an impact on the gridiron. Gaither chose the Braves over a few other North Carolina schools who showed interest, including Catawba and Winston-Salem State.

“I was looking for a place that felt like home,” Gaither said. “I felt like the coaches (at UNC Pembroke) made it feel like home. The players, I liked their energy. Plus I want to major in business and they have a good business program.”

When Gaither reports for training camp in August, he’ll arrive with his partnership with King in hand. The deal might not be as lucrative as some of the others being cut by college football’s most famous players, but it’s still a chance for Gaither to take advantage of his status as an elite athlete.

“It feels good to have one already before I even have one up (at UNC Pembroke),” Gaither said. “Maybe I’ll attract more.”

For King, the deal is a way to get his name out there as Gaither will be promoting his brand on social media and spreading the word to his friends and fellow athletes.

It’s also a way for King, who ran track at Livingstone, to help local athletes.

“I was looking at it as a chance to give back,” King said.

Return of Cheerwine Festival brings smiles to visitors from all over

Madeline Wagoner/Salisbury Post — At the merch booth, Cheerwine apparel sells like hot cakes.

By Madeline Wagoner with the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — Saturday marked the official return of Salisbury’s Cheerwine Festival for the first in-person event in two years.

Attendees flocked to town for food, activities and live music to celebrate. Families from Pennsylvania to Florida were among those who made their way to Salisbury to take part.

“Seeing everyone together after the toll of COVID really makes me happy,” said visitor Shannon Alfaro who traveled from Lincolnton with her husband, Ralph. “This is our first year coming to the festival, we love Cheerwine, but they don’t have all the slushies and snow cones like here.”

It wasn’t just iced treats offered in the food trucks and vendors. More than 30 dining options were available along Main and Innes streets, where whiffs of grilled meat and baked goods surfaced, many featuring Cheerwine as the main flavor. Blended frappucinnos from Mean Mug, baked goods from Abigail’s, beer from New Sarum and the unique Cheerwine kettlecorn were just some of the ways to enjoy the beverage at the event.

New Sarum had sold 600 of the much-talked-about Cheerwine Lagers by 2 p.m.

“Grabbing some Cheerwine ice cream or a slushie is the perfect treat with this hot weather,” said Joy Ritchie-Harper, a fifth generation member of the founding family of Cheerwine and marketing director at Carolina Beverage. “It’s so amazing to see everyone together again. We’re very excited to share the love of Cheerwine for another year and I’m looking forward to the tradition continuing.”

The festival became a collaboration with the city of Salisbury after the 100th birthday celebration in 2017. The city would handle the logistics and Carolina Beverage took care of the advertising.

In addition to merchandise, Carolina Beverage has contributed to the Rowan Museum for an exhibit all about the favored drink. As of 2 p.m. on Saturday, over 1,200 people made their way through the hallway decked in signs and merchandise from the Cheerwine archives.

“It’s almost overwhelming having so many people come through for the exhibit,” said Aaron Kepley, director of the Rowan Museum. “But I’m glad they’re here. We sold out of our merchandise at 1:30.”

Kepley continued with the story as the line of attendees wrapped around the museum. This was the first time the exhibit was displayed in the hallway instead of a room at the end of the museum. Vintage signs and cases of bottled Cheerwine were just a few of the special items. Along F&M Bank’s trolley tour, families could experience the history of the iconic drink.

The Rowan Museum wasn’t the only place selling out of merchandise. Meredith Mills’ contest-winning design was sold out at all the booths by 1 p.m. The design was also up for preorders on cheerwine.com for festival-goers to grab before Saturday’s event.

Just outside the Rowan County Courthouse, the Lauren Light Trio kicked off the live concerts with original songs including “I Got You” and musical favorites by Marshmello and Elle King. Later in the day, Tsunami Wave Riders, 9daytrip, Ayron Jones and Spin Doctors were to take the stage during the free event.

The Fisher Street Stage also featured local artists until 5 p.m., including Lee Knox, Jessica Yates, Cassandra Wright, CJ Peters and Birds of a Feather.

You can visit cheerwinefest.com for all details on the event.

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