The Bright Spot: Cheerwine Festival in Salisbury

By Nicole Madden

SALISBURY, N.C. — The Cheerwine Festival will be welcoming tens of thousands to downtown Salisbury to celebrate the Carolina classic soft drink Saturday, May 21.

Festival-goers will be able to enjoy live entertainment from local, regional and national musical act with the Spin Doctors taking center stage at 8:30pm. Nearly 40 vendors from across the Carolinas will offer dishes, many featuring Cheerwine, including bacon on a stick, tacos, kettle corn, sno-cones, barbecue and more. The Cheerwine Festival Beer Gardens will host 10 local breweries. Select vendors, including New Sarum Brewing and Cabarrus Brewing Company, will serve Cheerwine-infused craft beer.

Additional Activities:

  • F&M Bank Kids Zone, which includes activities and entertainment for children.
  • Local arts and crafts, including unique Cheerwine merchandise, from over 45 vendors.
  • F&M Bank Trolley Tours through historic downtown Salisbury, featuring a number of interesting Cheerwine sites.
  • Cheerwine historical exhibit at the Rowan Museum.
  • Relaxation Station on E. Fisher St., which features Troutman rocking chairs, a second beer garden and performances from local buskers.

WCCB Rising’s Lauren McDonald, Nicole Madden, and Joe Duncan will even be emceeing the fest on Saturday. Admission is free with gates opening at noon. The festival will go through 10pm rain, or shine.

For more information on the festival, click here.

The Fun Factory will bring ‘a place for families’ to downtown Salisbury

SALISBURY — Tired of having to drive outside of Rowan County to take her two boys, Waylen and Wyatt, to a safe indoor play place, Marianna Riley Jarrett decided to create her own closer to home.

Jarrett, the owner of Spotlight Dance Company, is preparing to open The Fun Factory right next door to her studio at 120 N. Church St. The indoor play cafe will have it all — a three-story “soft play” playground, a ninja course with more than a dozen obstacles, a mini-trampoline park, a toddler section, two birthday party rooms and a small gift shop. A cafe at the front of The Fun Factory will have coffee, tea, sandwiches, salads and baked goods made in-house.

“We’re going to offer a lot of different things and I do think it is something Salisbury has needed,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett is targeting late August as an opening date for The Fun Factory.

The project has been in the works for several years. Jarrett was poised to sign a lease on another location before the pandemic brought everything to a halt.

“I was devastated,” Jarrett said. “I’m not going to lie. I put in a year of planning, a year of work. I was disappointed that it didn’t work out.”

The setback had its own silver lining. While Jarrett was forced to put her original plans on hold, the 8,000-square-foot space right next to her dance studio became available for lease.

“I was disappointed that it didn’t work out, but in the end I’m so happy,” Jarrett said. “It’s bigger than the original space and being right there at the studio I love. It was set up almost perfectly for what I want to do.”

The future home of The Fun Factory is the former home of Bounce City, a children’s amusement park that was different but not completely dissimilar to The Fun Factory concept.

The Fun Factory and Spotlight will be two different businesses, but they will be physically intertwined.

“They’ll be separate businesses, but I want it to be cohesive as well,” Jarrett said. “If people are dancing and they have siblings who can play, they can go in there and play. We’re also opening a cafe in the space. That’ll be great for our competition dancers who are at the studio from 4 to 9 at night.”

The soft play playground has been specially designed to fit the physical parameters of the building and will have slides and other typical playground equipment. The ninja course is reminiscent of what one might see when watching NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” but on a smaller and safer scale. The course will have 15 obstacles.

Jarrett said The Fun Factory will have something for kids of all ranges, from toddlers to 14 year olds. The plan is to have a specific section for toddlers and to reserve a “toddler time” during which only kids 3 and under can use the play equipment.

“It’s a place for families with multiple kids where the parents can come, maybe use our free wi-fi and get some work done, let their kids play, grab something to eat and have a place where they can safely play,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett envisions The Fun Factory becoming a birthday party destination. And with a bakery on site, Jarrett said The Fun Factory will offer customizable birthday cakes and other sweet treats. She expects to also host a variety of family-friendly events, such as yoga classes, story time and art classes.

“There’s not anything like it and especially in the cold months and on rainy days, it’ll be a really fun place for parents to bring their kids,” Jarrett said.

The entrance to The Fun Factory will be on North Church Street. A closed off foyer will allow The Fun Factory employees to monitor who enters and exits the facility, which is another feature of the building that Jarrett is excited about.

The renovation process is now underway. Construction crews will take out the carpet, repaint the walls and install the cafe. The playground equipment, Jarrett said, is currently being built and constructed and is scheduled to arrive in July. Crews will need about 35 days to put it together.

Up to date information about the renovation process and opening will be posted on

Piedmont Players presents:


by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten
Directed by Jonathan Ewart

The Savannah Sipping Society is a hilarious comedy where four unique Southern women, all needing to escape the sameness of their d ay- to- day routines, are draw n tog ether by fate— and an impromptu happy hour— and decide it ’ s high time to reclaim the enthusiasm for life they’ v e lost through the years. These women successfully bond and find the confidence to jumpstart their new lives. They discover lasting friendships, a renewed determination to live in the moment, and most importantly, realize it’s never too late to make new old friends.

Piedmont Players Theatre’s cast includes: Corinne Mauldin as Randa; Melissa Bowden as MarlaFaye; Winnie Mikkelson as Jinx, and Robin Rogers as Dot.

Producing Partner: Eric Slipp

Performance Schedule:

Friday, April 22 at 7:30 PMSaturday, April 23 at 7:30 PMSunday, April 24 at 2:30 PM
Friday, April 29 at 7:30 PMSaturday, April 30 at 7:30 PMSunday, May 01 at 2:30 PM
Doors open 30 minutes prior to each performance.

Venue: The Meroney Theater 213 S Main Street Salisbury, NC 28144


Tickets: $23 for adults; $21 for seniors/students/military.

Tickets are available at or by calling 704.633.5471

Family brings taste of Chile to downtown Salisbury at Tita’s Cake House

SALISBURY — In his home country of Chile, Luis Gomez Valencia commanded military bases as a captain in the country’s Navy.

The retired military officer is now serving sweets with a smile at Tita’s Cake House in downtown Salisbury. The pastry and coffee shop, located at 115 E. Innes St., specializes in traditional Chilean baked goods and treats.

The venture is a family affair. While Luis may have been a captain in Chile’s Navy, his rank in the shop’s kitchen is superseded by his wife, Carla Manriquez, and mother, Lucia Valencia-Carter. Lucia, known to family and friends as “Tita,” has been in America since the mid-2000s. Luis and Carla only moved to the states last year with the dream of opening the pastry shop.

Tita’s held its soft opening earlier this month. The fresh facade has drawn in plenty of customers so far, many of them curious to see what’s become of The Smoke Pit’s old location. Most have decided to enjoy a pastry, or two, and a cup of coffee.

“It has been over our expectations, because people have been very nice, very loving and everybody is happy with this,” Lucia said.

Tita’s might not exist if it wasn’t for a small advertisement in one of Chile’s newspapers that caught Lucia’s eye about two decades ago.

Lucia is the second oldest of nine children. As a child, her older brother had trouble pronouncing her name, Lucia, so he called her “Tita” instead. The nickname stuck and was soon adopted by her entire family and friends.

She grew up attending an American school in Chile where she learned to read and write English. She continued to study the language in college with the goal of becoming an English teacher. Lucia did just that, but she also opened a pastry shop where she made and sold classic Chilean sweets. She ran the business and taught for more than a decade before closing the shop in search of better work-life balance.

Years later, Lucia saw an interesting advertisement in the local paper. It was strategically written in English and posed one question: do you want to teach in the United States?

The advertisement had been placed by Visiting International Faculty, now known as Participate. Since 1987, the program has brought thousands of international teachers to American k-12 classrooms to teach foreign language classes. An empty-nester, Lucia decided to pounce on the opportunity.

In 2006, she moved to Virginia and started teaching language classes. There, she met and married. Lucia and her husband, Donald, eventually moved to Salisbury so he could have better access to healthcare at the Salisbury VA. Lucia got a job with Rowan-Salisbury Schools and spent years teaching English as a Second Language classes at Koontz Elementary.

Meanwhile, her oldest son Luis was rising through the ranks in Chile’s Navy. During his career, Luis, Carla and their children were stationed in various Chilean military bases. For two years, he was Navy governor of Easter Island. He also spent time in Punta Arenas, the chilly capital of Chile’s southernmost region and a popular starting point for excursions to Antarctica.

Five years ago, Luis and his wife Carla brought their children to visit Lucia in Salisbury.

The couple was immediately charmed by the city.

“They found that the downtown of Salisbury has kind of a magic, something special, something different,” Lucia said.

That visit planted a seed.

Thinking about his post-military career, Luis and Carla started planning a pastry shop of their own. In preparation, Carla took culinary classes to learn the proper techniques to make Chilean desserts and pastries. When Luis retired after 32 years in the Armada de Chile, the couple decided to move to Rowan County and open their dream eatery.

The move wasn’t without nerves.

“(Luis) was very brave in coming here because he had a beautiful career (in Chile),” Carla said, her words translated by Lucia. “He would have a lot of different options to pick from there, good ones. But he preferred to come here to be with his family and his mommy too.”

Carla and Luis’ plane touched down on July 4 and soon after they started preparing to open the shop. They decided to name it Tita’s after Lucia.

“When I heard this, I cried,” Lucia said.

The couple looked at several properties downtown, but were drawn to the former Smoke Pit location because it already had a kitchen. That didn’t mean the space was move-in ready for them. Carla led efforts to reinvent the interior, combining inspiration drawn from visiting other cafes with her own passion for using thrifted items as decor.

There’s plenty of interesting items on the walls to look at, but the star of the shop is what’s within the glass bakery display case. So far, Tita’s has sold mostly pies and cheesecakes topped with marmalades, fruit or nuts. The plan is to offer a wider selection of Chilean cakes and desserts once kitchen staff is trained.

“Everything is handmade, the same way we do it at home,” Lucia said.

Carla said they’ll only make the “best of the best” baked goods and pastries, using all natural ingredients.

Lucia and Carla are excited to introduce local taste buds to manjar, a milk based confection similar to caramel and closely resembling Dulce de Leche. The sweet substance is often slathered between layers of cakes. A few manjar-filled multi-layered cakes were placed in the display one afternoon last week, and they didn’t last long.

“In less than three hours, the three cakes disappeared,” Lucia said.

To pair with its pastries, Tita’s sells ice cream made by Mooresville Ice Cream Company and offers an entire coffee menu. The shop uses beans from Jagshead Coffee, a Charlotte-based roaster and family-run company that sources its beans from El Salvador.

Carla said she envisions Tita’s as being a place for families, workers and friends to gather for a delicious taste of Chile.

More information about Tita’s can be found online at or on its Facebook page.

Salisbury locals win big at N.C. Main Street Awards

SALISBURY, N.C., (Monday, March 14, 2022) – Three Downtown Salisbury stakeholders, local architecture and development firms, and Downtown Salisbury, Inc. (DSI) received honors at the recent North Carolina Main Street Awards ceremony.

Whitney W. Williams of Wallace & Graham, P.A. was named a “North Carolina Main Street Champion,” while Heart of Salisbury took Best Public-Private Partnership in Downtown Revitalization and Barnhardt Jewelers & Lofts on Innes took Best Adaptive Reuse Project at the annual North Carolina Main Street Conference, held virtually. Nominations were accepted for projects completed between October 2019 through October 2021.

“Downtown Salisbury’s tagline as a ‘Main Street Original’ is a reminder that we were one of the first Main Street communities in North Carolina,” said Downtown Development Director Sada Stewart Troutman. “:However, the continued success of development in our downtown, spearheaded in 2021 by our three award winners, Heart of Salisbury, Barnhardt Jewelers/Lofts on Innes and Whitney Williams, shows that we remain one of the strongest downtowns in the state. It is an exciting time to live, work and play in Downtown Salisbury, and we are so grateful to Wivianny, Josh, Debbie, Whitney and their teams for their continued celebration and vocal support for all things Salisbury. They join a storied group of Main Street Champions and Main Street Award winners from Salisbury who have all made, and continue to make, Salisbury a better place.”

Williams Family

Whitney Wallace Williams has dedicated almost seven years of service to Downtown Salisbury, Inc. (DSI). She served as a member of the DSI board and as its vice-chair and chair. Since rotating off the board, Wallace has stayed active with the organization by serving on the Organizational Committee. With her legal training and experience, she has been essential to so many DSI projects. Wallace also served as the chair of the Empire Hotel Redevelopment Task Force, which was responsible for selecting a developer to purchase and redevelop the historic downtown hotel. The Empire’s successful redevelopment will be transformative for the city and its downtown. 

Heart of Heart of Salisbury is a 5,000-square-foot wellness destination located in the former Flowers Bakery Building at 120 East Innes Street in downtown Salisbury. Best described as a wellness incubator, the facility includes seven affordable office suites for wellness professionals; studios and art galleries used for yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and belly dance; a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes; and a retail shop with local and fair trade goods. The concept for the project was to create a self-sustaining wellness complex where professionals have affordable rent, local artists have a space to exhibit and sell their artwork, new chefs have a place to connect with the community, and yogis have a community space, surrounded by artwork, to practice and teach. The Heart of Salisbury’s mission is to “help build a healthy community by giving individuals access to affordable yoga classes, professional wellness services, mindfulness education, food education, and art appreciation.” It is a synergistic model that utilizes a rehabilitated industrial setting to bring wellness professionals and clients to downtown Salisbury.

Barnhardt Jewelers/Lofts on Innes at 112 and 114 Innes Street are housed in a building constructed in 1885, is two-story, rectangular brick building with a single-story rear addition. The height, scale, and building materials are typical of many of the commercial buildings and despite modifications to the storefront, the upper facade has retained a significant degree of architectural integrity. The building previously had a saloon in the front and a billiards hall in the back, and was later used for storage. 114 Innes Street was constructed between 1931 and 1950 and replaced the first structure on that property that dated back to around 1890. The earliest use was a barber shop.  Much of the architectural character of the buildings was retained in the rehabilitation, including the wood floors and the pressed tin ceilings. The storefront of 112 East Innes Street was rebuilt.

Local professionals, including The Bogle Firm Architecture, Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit consultant, LMY, Inc., and Central Piedmont Builders worked on both of these building rehabilitation projects that were completed in March (Heart of Salisbury) and December 2020 (Barnhardt Jewelers). Including this year’s group of honorees, 837 Main Street Champions have been recognized by the N.C. Department of Commerce since 2000. A panel of judges selected the project award winners from more than 35 nominations submitted by Main Street and Small Town Main Street communities statewide.

Downtown Salisbury wants public input on possible social district for alcohol consumption

Downtown Salisbury Social District Map

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) – Downtown Salisbury Inc. (DSI) wants input from Salisbury residents on the possibility of setting up a downtown social district for alcohol consumption.

Such a designation would allow patrons of downtown ABC permitted establishments in Salisbury to drink an alcoholic beverage on sidewalks and public areas in the social district.

The City of Kannapolis was one of the first in the state to establish such a district following legislation approved by the N.C. General Assembly in September.

Continue reading “Downtown Salisbury wants public input on possible social district for alcohol consumption”

New “Social District” Could Allow Alcohol Consumption On Downtown Salisbury Streets

SALISBURY, N.C. – You could soon stroll the streets of downtown Salisbury with a drink in hand.

A business stakeholder group is pushing the city to create a “social district” where open containers would be allowed.

“We hope it’ll be a driver for tourism. We know that we’ll be one of the first of a handful of cities to pass this,” says Samantha Haspel, with Downtown Salisbury Inc.

It’s something Haspel thinks could make downtown Salisbury a destination — the ability to allow local bars, restaurants, and other businesses to sell open containers of alcohol that customers can walk out with and enjoy while strolling through downtown.

Continue reading “New “Social District” Could Allow Alcohol Consumption On Downtown Salisbury Streets”

DSI is proposing the creation of a Downtown Salisbury Social District

Downtown Salisbury Social District Map

and we encourage the community to attend one of the numerous public engagement sessions!

DSI will be sharing….

The background of this bi-partisan bill, which was passed as part of the “Bring Business Back Downtown” measure. It is intended to be an economic vitality tool to responsibly bring the community back downtown after a year of hardship on our businesses.

The strict guidelines involved in creating and maintaining the social district to show the immense amount of planning involved in creating a safe and responsible environment for all downtown residents, visitors, merchants and stakeholders.

Continue reading “DSI is proposing the creation of a Downtown Salisbury Social District”

City of Salisbury begins downtown road construction

SALISBURY, N.C. (Friday, July 23, 2021) — City of Salisbury will begin nightly road construction, Monday, July 26, in downtown Salisbury in preparation for the Main Street resurfacing project in the fall. The project is expected to take approximately three weeks to complete.

Crews will saw cut and dig a 30-inch trench in order to place traffic signal conduit (pipe that house wiring) at various downtown intersections along Main and Innes Streets. The work will be done at night to minimize the disruption to downtown businesses during work hours, and allow a better flow of daytime traffic. Residents who live in the downtown area will experience some overnight construction noise.

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