Embracing Community and Culture
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.