Embracing Community and Culture

by | Jun 29, 2023 | Municipalities

Discovering Cleveland Through the Eyes of a North Rowan Original.

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time in the Town of Cleveland, a closely-knit and friendly rural community nestled on the western side of Rowan County. As a North Rowan girl, I was less familiar with this part of our county, and I was excited to learn more about the town that promotes “Connecting & Creating.” With its rich cultural heritage and strong sense of community, Cleveland offers a delightful blend of community, art, and small-town charm. From my firsthand experience, I can confidently say that Cleveland is the kind of place where neighbors come together, ideas are shared, and traditions are cherished.

During my visit, I had the chance to speak with Rebekah Brown, the town’s Finance Officer and Social Media Coordinator, who shared with me the town’s favorite motto: “It’s a good day in Cleveland and it’s a great day to be from West Rowan!” This motto reflects the family-focused and community-oriented atmosphere fostered by Mayor Pat Phifer, who has been serving on the Board of Commissioners for 32 years and as the town’s mayor for the last 6 years. Cleveland not only takes care of its own residents but also extends its goodwill to neighboring communities.

I had the pleasure of joining the Rowan County Young Professionals, a Chamber of Commerce networking group comprising young adults from all areas of Rowan County, for a pre-concert cookout gathering hosted by the Cleveland Board of Commissioners. We were warmly welcomed into Mayor Phifer’s home, where we enjoyed a spread of delicious food, including the famous fried pork tenderloin sandwiches that Cleveland is known for, along with other signature sides and desserts. Following the meal, several Young Professional members and I attended the first event in the 2023 Dancing on Depot Concert Series.

9 people posing for a group photo around the Town Hall of Cleveland Sign.

West Rowan’s Annual Concert Series Returns

The annual Dancing on Depot Street Concert Series is a point of pride for this rural community. Now in its 5th year, the series kicked off at the end of April and attracted audiences of all ages. The highlight of the first event was the diverse range of musical performances, featuring local talents as well as renowned North Carolina artist Darrell Harwood, a native of China Grove. The welcoming atmosphere, delicious food vendors, and sense of community make this concert series a must-attend event.

Save the dates for future concerts this summer:

  • Saturday, July 22, featuring Eagles Tribute Band On the Border
  • Saturday, Aug. 5, featuring the Entertainers
  • Saturday, Aug. 26, featuring EnVision
  • Saturday, Sept. 23, featuring Dirty Grass Soul

All concerts begin at 6:30 p.m., and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets for their comfort.

large group of people dancing on Depot Street.

The Rural Fabric of a Community: Barn Quilts & Churches

While the Dancing on Depot Street Concert Series captures the community spirit of Cleveland, the Barn Quilt Mural and Trail emphasizes the essence of Cleveland’s rural heritage. Throughout the town and surrounding countryside, vibrant quilt designs adorn barns, creating the Barn Quilt Mural and Trail. Visitors can embark on a self-guided trail that showcases the trail’s length, notable murals, and picturesque landscapes. This trail not only preserves local heritage but also promotes artistic expression. It’s worth noting that the barn quilt mural in Cleveland is the largest in the state of North Carolina, serving as a proud symbol for this small community. Another notable barn quilt is located at the West Rowan Farm Home and Garden, previously featured in a YourRowan.com blog by our Attractions blogger, Janet Ruffin. You can read more about it by clicking here.

Cleveland’s strong spiritual fabric is woven through its seven churches located within the town district. These churches contribute to the overall friendly and family-oriented atmosphere of Cleveland, representing diverse religious affiliations and playing an integral role in the community. They offer a rich history, community outreach programs, and foster a sense of unity.

An upcoming event is Community Day on Nov. 4, 2023, where local vendors and churches will provide food and family-friendly activities such as arts and crafts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wall of Barn Quilts in Cleveland, NC

Rowan County’s Top Employer is in Cleveland, North Carolina

Cleveland takes pride in being home to the influential Freightliner Trucks manufacturing plant, a company of Daimler. Located directly on Statesville Boulevard (U.S. 70), this plant has a significant impact on the local economy and provides employment opportunities not only in Rowan County but also in neighboring cities like Statesville, Mocksville, Mooresville, Troutman, and Lexington. Freightliner Trucks is one of the largest manufacturers of heavy- and medium-duty trucks in North America and develops a line of specialized commercial vehicles. In 2021, they were recognized by the North Chamber  of Commerce in their Coolest Thing Made in NC contest for their Western Star 49X Vocational Truck. It’s amazing to see such a world-renowned brand being made right here in our own backyard!

How to Get Involved in West Rowan

Cleveland residents are encouraged to play an active role in the Town of Cleveland by attending the town hall meetings held on the second Monday of every month at 6 p.m. These meetings provide an opportunity for community members to come together, voice concerns, and discuss town matters. To be heard, individuals are allotted three minutes and must sign up in advance of the meeting by contacting Kelly Rodgers.

Two people stand by the Town Hall of Cleveland Sign.

Top Events to Attend in West Rowan

In addition to the Dancing on Depot Concerts, I encourage you to save the dates for these other events on the Town of Cleveland community calendar:

  • National Night Out: Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2023. This free event focuses on making neighborhoods safer and more caring places to live.
  • Woodleaf Tomato Festival: Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Unity Presbyterian Church in the community of Woodleaf on Woodleaf-Barber Road, Cleveland. Families will love this annual festival celebrating Woodleaf tomatoes.
  • Halloween on Depot Street: Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Join the community for a fun-filled Halloween event.
  • Annual Christmas Tree Lighting: Dec. 1, 2023. Celebrate the holiday season with the lighting of the community Christmas tree.
  • Cleveland Christmas Parade: Dec. 2, 2023. Don’t miss this festive parade that brings the community together.

You can find more information about these events and others at www.townofclevelandnc.gov/events.

I truly appreciated my time with the people in the Town of Cleveland, and I encourage everyone to visit this wholesome community on the west side.

About The Author

Sherri Hill

I am a native of Rowan County, having lived here my entire life. I was educated and graduated from the North Rowan School System in 2003 and earned my Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from Catawba College in 2007. My professional experience has encompassed the roles of being a therapist, clinical director, grant writer, clinical supervisor, and working in program development. Currently, I am a Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) Consultant for N.C. Department of Public Safety, Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency as well as a family therapist. My professional accomplishments were highlighted in the 2019 edition of Focus magazine in Davidson County, when I was nominated as “A Women Who Inspires”. I am a member of Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. and also serve as the Board Chair of Communities in Schools of Davidson County/ Lexington City Schools. Additionally, I volunteer with Rowan Helping Ministries, and I am a member of Rowan County Young Professionals. When I am not volunteering, I love spending time outside in the sun playing with my two dogs.