Do you ever find yourself sitting on your couch trying to find something to do with your friends or family? Well look no further! Rowan County has so many exciting events happening in 2020 that it was difficult to find the best ones to share, but I have narrowed it down to the top 20 most exciting must attend events for 2020! This list will have your calendar filled throughout the year with family friendly, cost effective events that you won’t want to miss.
1. Kannapolis Cannon Ballers Opening Night
Bring the family and come out to the brand-new Kannapolis Sports and Entertainment Venue for Opening Night of the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers season, April 16 at 7 p.m. This Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox promotes a family fun brand at all home games with firework shows and affordable ticket prices. The new stadium located in the heart of downtown Kannapolis will host all the Cannon Ballers home games this season with season tickets now available for purchase.
The inaugural year will be full of new surprises for fans to have a truly unforgettable experience. I spoke with Assistant General Manager Vince Marcucci whose goal for the Cannon Ballers is “to be truly evolutionary. We want to continue to grow and provide something new every day to create the best experience for our fans.” Come hang out with Boomer, the team’s new mascot, and enjoy the classic ballpark experience with a hot dog and soda and cheer on the Cannon Ballers on opening night! To purchase tickets, click here.
2. Cleveland Rodeo Pro Night
From April 16-19, come out to the Cleveland Livestock Show Pro Rodeo and bull riding event. The event kicks off the first night with Family Night and Mutton Bustin, followed by the pro rodeo on the 17th. The next day features a trail ride, parade, and a continuation of the pro rodeo. The bull riding event is the final day of this four-day Pro Rodeo and you will not want to miss a second of this exciting show! For a more detailed schedule check out the website here.
The 45th Annual OctoberTour will be celebrated this year in Salisbury. This event is the oldest house tour in the South and features over 200 homes or historic stops. This tour is so well-known that it has established the Historic Salisbury Foundation as one of the leading historic preservation organizations in the country! At each stop along the tour, stories are told about those who lived or labored on the properties that helped shaped Salisbury into what it is today. Typically ranging from a Thursday through Sunday, OctoberTour features luncheons, live music, and crafts to round off an exciting weekend of festivities. Tickets are purchased online and include use of the trolley and access to the inside of the homes. To purchase tickets, click here.
4. Jiggy with the Piggy (5k, 5th annual BBQ competition, 40th annual Arts and Craft Show)
Jiggy with the Piggy is Kannapolis’s must attend event of the year. The 5th annual Kansas City style barbeque competition features 60 teams competing for the title of best barbeque as decided by judges. The 40th Annual Arts and Craft show is also paired with the barbeque and features vendors from across the state. This event also incorporates a 5k race, outdoor movie night, music, and an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. This two-day event is something you will not want to miss so come out May 1 & 2 and bring your stretchy pants! For more information click here.
5. The Cheerwine Festival
On May 16, the entire downtown of Salisbury comes to life to host the annual Cheerwine Festival. Cheerwine is a soda that was created in Salisbury in 1917 that features a unique cherry taste. This southern favorite is the star of this day- long, free family friendly event. Food and drink vendors serve all things Cheerwine that the whole family will love. Craft and artisan vendors are only the beginning of the exciting offerings that can be found at the festival. Last year, the band Smash Mouth performed to a crowd of over 50,000 Cheerwine lovers! This festival continues to grow each year and is a must attend event to mark on your calendars. For more information about the Cheerwine Festival click here.
6. Hippie Fest
On May 9-10, come out to the Rowan County Fair Grounds for Hippie Fest 2020! Live music, DIY tie-dye, delicious food, and more are featured at this grassroots festival. Rain or shine come celebrate all things groovy with free-spirited people from across the country. This event is family friendly with activities for kids scattered throughout the grounds. Kids under 10 get in for free! You can purchase a single day ticket for $10 or a two-day ticket for $15. Space is limited so get your tickets now for Hippie Fest 2020! Reserve your tickets here.
7. Pops at the Post
The 15th annual Pops at the Post will be held for the second time at the N.C. Transportation Museum on June 6. Since its first appearance in 2005 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Salisbury Post, it was an instant hit with the community. Originally held in the loading dock of the Post, the Salisbury Symphony drew a crowd with their lawn chairs in hand to enjoy the performance. Planning for this event takes an entire year and a special theme is already being prepared for the 2020 performance. This is a free event to the public thanks to donors and sponsors so be sure to check out this Salisbury tradition! Updates about the event will be posted on the Salisbury Post website here.
8. Celebremos! A Celebration of Latin American Music & Culture
Saturday, May 16, take an adventure to Central America hosted by the Salisbury Symphony. Maria Valdez, “La Reina”, will guide you through the history and culture of Latin America with her troupe of performers accompanied by the symphony.
Hunter Safrit the Associate Executive Director of the symphony had this to say, “We are constantly discussing how we can open up other cultures to our concert goers. A portion of our community is becoming more Latin American and we want to let them know our music is for everybody.”
The Salisbury Symphony is offering balcony seating for a buck ($1) and for anyone 21 years old and younger tickets are only $10. Before the show in the Crystal Peeler Lounge, the symphony has invited several Mexican and Latin American vendors to offer samples of their cultural food. This event will take place in Keppel Auditorium at Catawba College so check out tickets here for this cultural experience you will not want to miss.
9. Faith 4th of July Festival
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Independence Day this year, look no further than the Town of Faith. Since 1946, Faith has held an annual, week-long festival leading up to the 4th. Food booths and rides are open every night to accompany live music, a Faith Idol competition, a hot dog eating competition, and of course fireworks. This town prides themselves in their patriotism and old-fashioned fun that makes this event so successful. Even a President of the United States has attended this event in the past! All proceeds raised through the week benefit a variety of worthy causes in the Faith community. For more about the event click here.
10. History on Tap Series
During the months of June, July, and August, take a historic tour of downtown Salisbury while also enjoying free craft beer samples from New Sarum Brewery. The History on Tap Series will be continuing for the 6th summer in a row to provide an opportunity to learn about the local history of Salisbury. This free event is hosted by the Historic Salisbury Foundation whose mission is to preserve, protect, and revitalize the beauty of our beloved town. This series will feature three different historic landmarks where visitors will learn the history, hear stories of what took place, and in addition receive their two free beer samples. Registration will be limited so check here to make sure you don’t miss out! This event has been known to sell out.
11. 7th Annual Dragon Boat Festival
On July 25, come out to High Rock Lake, North Carolina’s second largest lake, and witness the 7th Annual Dragon Boat Festival at the Shrine Club. The sport stems from an Ancient Chinese Legend but absolutely no experience is needed to participate. Thirty teams fill boats that are 42 feet long and hold 20 paddlers plus a drummer. Teams range from club teams that compete across the Southeast, to local businesses looking for a team building exercise.
When asked about her favorite part of the event, Elaine Spalding, President of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce said, “I just love seeing all of the happy people enjoying Rowan County, its heartwarming to see people from the community who have never been to High Rock Lake, and people from outside the region exploring Rowan.” This free family friendly event also features various food vendors, local breweries and vineyards, as well as, Cheerwine. Entertainment and raffles are also provided to the attendees. For more information click here.
12. Float the Goat Festival
During the hot summer months, escaping to High Rock Lake is the perfect way to relax and cool down. But did you know that you could see a concert on the comfort of your boat while also supporting a great cause? The Float the Goat Music Festival is a floating dock suspended by three pontoon boats off Goat Island. Local musician Darrell Harwood and local business owner Mikey Wetzel had the idea for the concert to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as well as, provide an experience for fans that has never been done before. This is not the only way that Harwood gives back. Float the Goat is the second of three concerts that he puts on for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. When asked why he does it he says, “I really like to see people come out and enjoy the local music…people genuinely care and give back to the community.” So, this summer bring your boat out to Goat Island June 28 for great music under the sun. For a drone video of last year’s event click here.
13. Patterson Farm Brew and Moo Festival
In fall of 2020, check out the Patterson Farm Brew and Moo Festival. This event features all the normal Fall Fun on the Farm activities that can be found at Patterson Farms like hayrides, the corn maize, pumpkin patch, face painting, and Pawpaw Carl’s playground, in addition to local wine and beer vendors. New Sarum Brewery and Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery will be providing beer, and Cauble Creek Vineyards and Morgan Ridge Vineyards are providing wine options. Food trucks will also be on sight for all the local foodies to enjoy! Be sure to check out our Spring Edition of Brew and Moo May 2 and 3 from 1 – 5 p.m. both days. In addition to our regular Berries and Blooms weekend activities, local breweries and wineries will be onsite with their craft beer and local wine selections available for purchase. For more information click here.
14. Stand Together Music Festival
On September 19, The Fourth Annual Stand Together Music Festival will take place in China Grove. This all-day music festival was created to raise funds and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while providing entertainment for the whole family. Food vendors, bounce houses, and raffles will accompany the live music throughout the day. Stand Together would have never been possible without the support of China Grove local Darrell Harwood who also performs at the event. He uses his passion for music to give back and bring the community together over a fantastic cause. This event has seen tremendous success since its start in 2017 with over 4,000 in attendance. Last year it is estimated that 7,000 people came out to support! For more details about the Stand Together Music Festival click here.
15. Carolina Bohemian Jam
Come rock out on October 10-11 at the Carolina Bohemian Jam for the ultimate rock music and art tribute. This two-day event features tribute bands from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, as well as local rock musicians. “The inspiration for this event was to create something like Woodstock and to become a travel destination for people all over, not just North Carolina,” says festival creator and designer Garrett Barger.
Attendees can expect handmade-art booths, as well as, an enhanced camping experience on site. Food, beer, and wine are also available to enjoy at the festival. Bohemian Jam is family friendly and “welcomes all and is closed to none”. Tickets are $10 per person per day or invest in a VIP ticket for $50. If you plan on consuming alcohol, a $5 wrist brand must also be purchased. For tickets click here.
16. Rowan County Fair
The Rowan County Fair spans from September 25 to October 3 at the Rowan County Fair Grounds. What started as an agricultural show and education opportunity over 65 years ago, has blossomed into a highly anticipated event every year. This event features carnival rides, food vendors, acrobats, face painting, petting zoos and more! Bottom line, there is something for everyone here and it is a tradition for many families. Events change daily so be sure to check out their website and plan your visit! Tickets are under $10 for this event. For more information click here.
17. Morgan Ridge Vineyards-10th Anniversary Celebration
Come celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Morgan Ridge Vineyards in November with a lunch buffet and live jazz music! This local vineyard prides itself on its hospitality and aims to provide an amazing, unique experience for guests. When you’re done with your lunch, enjoy an evening in the tasting room sampling up to 10 different estate wines. All the fruit used to make the wine is grown on the property. Craft beer is also brewed at Morgan Ridge providing another option for guests.
Their newly closed in pavilion also provides opportunity for year-round events. With such great success in their first 10 years of business, co-owner Amie Baudoin says, “I’m just grateful…our focus for the next 10 years is to keep it new and fresh to give customers a reason to keep coming back.” Check their calendar of events for other opportunities throughout the year, like an adult Easter egg hunt, Harvest Celebration, and a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Check out the calendar of events here.
18. Autumn Jubilee Dan Nicholas Park
If you’re looking for some fall fun in Rowan County, check out the Autumn Jubilee at Dan Nicholas Park October 3-4. This event has been bringing joy to Rowan County for years and even celebrated its 40th annual Autumn Jubilee last year! Ashley Duncan, Administrative Assistant and Facilities Manager for Rowan Parks & Recreation, has been a part of the planning of many Autumn Jubilee celebrations and says that the success of the festival can simply be narrowed down to tradition. This event features live music, an abundance of food options, crafts, and Heritage Village where blacksmiths, beekeepers, and wood carvers can be found. There is also a kid zone with a rock-climbing wall and bungee jumping. With attractions for the entire family, this event attracts 60,000+ attendees to enjoy the fall festivities and support local businesses. For more details visit their website here.
19. Santa & the Grinch Antique Fire Truck Rides
On December 12, come to Downtown Salisbury for a very unique Christmas experience. Join the Grinch and Santa on an antique firetruck ride through downtown. This free event starts at 10 am where you can take a souvenir photo with Santa and the Grinch. The firetruck rides begin at 1:30 and lasts until 3:30. Hot cocoa, elves, and caroling will also be available for all! This exciting event is normally held on the corner of Depot Street and East Innes, but maybe this year it will be held on the new Bell Tower Green! Mark your calendars for this special event that you cannot find anywhere else. For more information click here.
20. Christmas in the Grove
If you’re looking for a holiday festival to help get you in the Christmas spirit, check out Christmas in the Grove in China Grove. Bring the family out for real snow sledding on Swink Street, hot chocolate, a petting zoo, and more! Building up to the event on December 12, look for the annual parade and Christmas tree lighting. The town of China Grove comes together to make this free event possible for both China Grove locals and visitors. Mayor Charles Seaford says, “it truly takes a whole town effort…it brings great exposure to our local shops and shows everyone what China Grove has to offer.” To remember the night, make sure to take a quick picture with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and finish it all off with a horse drawn carriage ride. For more information on this event click here.
Full disclosure I am not originally from Rowan County, but I moved to this area in the late 1980s and consider it home.
“The Pops draws the most diverse group of people who enjoy all kinds of music,” Safrit says, and “people travel not just from Rowan County, but nearby areas, especially because the concert is free.”