As we make our way through the burnt orange and yellow leaves that cover the sidewalks throughout Rowan County, we realize that fall has finally made its way here. The smells of cinnamon and clove fill the air, and artists and craftsmen from across the region are coming out in droves to sell their wares in time for the holiday season. While we are enjoying the last of summer’s big red tomatoes and fresh corn, we are gearing up to enjoy hearty stews, chicken and dumplins’, and pies in every variety imaginable. We also begin planning our costumes for Halloween, our meals for Thanksgiving, and of course, we begin making our Christmas shopping lists. Fortunately, here in Rowan County, fall also signifies festivals, festivals and, you guessed it, MORE festivals! As regional artist and festival vendor Trista Terwiliger Collins of Stylefish Decor put it, “The South embraces the fall like the arrival of a long-lost friend! It’s the official kick off to the holiday season. It’s hard not to get excited about the change in smells, flavors, colors, and everything else that comes with this magical time of year. Our fall festivals are just like everything else done in the South… Go Big or Go Home!”


Fall, Festivals, and Fairs, Oh My!

For most people, the first major fall festival is the iconic Rowan County Fair (Sept. 20-28, 2019) which originated back in 1951. This 65-year-old tradition was established by a group of Jaycees who wanted to provide a unique and educational experience to local children by creating a permanent location for Rowan’s agricultural community to share their wares.  According to their website​, “many local fire departments and civic groups helped construct the fairgrounds. Among these were Locke, Liberty, and Miller Ferry Fire departments, Salisbury Optimist, and Millbridge Ruritans. They manned a food booth for years; raising a major source of income they distributed within the community. Fairgoers still talk about the former chicken & dumplings served by these volunteers in previous years.” And somehow, every year this event seems to signify the onslaught of outdoor, festival experiences to come.


Rowan County Fair


Shortly after we’ve had our fill of candied apples, corn dogs, and funnel cakes, we cannot help but to jump right in to warm pumpkin spice lattes, rich chilis, and bustling community events. As friends, neighbors, and visitors gather together to enjoy the cooler temps that October ushers in, the opportunities to support local makers become increasingly plentiful. This year, Dan Nicholas Park celebrated their 40th annual Autumn Jubilee on October 5-6. This event is held every year during the first weekend in October and welcomes more than 60,000 visitors from across the area. With live music, awesome food options, and more than 120 artists and craftsmen, this festival has made a tremendous impact on the Rowan County community.


Autumn Jubilee


Troyer’s Country Market celebrated their 5th annual Fall Festival this past weekend with their famous homemade glazed donuts.


Upcoming Fall Festivals

Lazy 5 Ranch’s annual Fall Festival is running now through October 27. Take your chance at their famous pumpkin slingshot, play in the giant corn box, climb the straw castle, watch Percheron Draft Horses as they press sorghum cane stalks to make molasses, and enjoy many more festive activities.

The Kaleidoscope Arts & Ag Festival returns to Kannapolis on Saturday, October 19 as the culminating event of the Rowan Arts & Ag Celebration. Kaleidoscope features live music and local artisans such as painters, jewelry makers, and woodcarvers. The rich culture of agriculture in Rowan County will also be celebrated with local breweries, wineries, and goods from farmers. This event is held in downtown Kannapolis on the lawn of the NC Research Campus.


Kaleidoscope Arts & Ag Festival by David Roman of RomanDa Photography


Fall Fun on the Farm is underway at Patterson Farm Market & Tours Inc. Head out this weekend, October 19-20, for Touch a Tractor Weekend and Brew & Moo. Get up close and personal with tractors of all shapes and sizes then enjoy food trucks, craft beer, and wine. Also, mark your calendars for an adults night out on October 24 at Witches & Warlocks.


Fall Fun on the Farm at Patterson Farm Market & Tours


Spooky Season is Here

From there we quickly move towards jack-o-lanterns, costumes, and candy with a huge variety of Halloween themed events. The small businesses that make up Downtown Salisbury all come out for the annual Halloween Fun Fest where families dress in their favorite costumes and trick-or-treat up and down Main St.


Arts Connector, Bailey’s son is ready for some spooky fun!


Tiger World is hosting the 12th annual Boo at the Zoo event on October 25 and 26. Families are invited to see exotic animals, trick-or-treat, and dress up as the zoo is transformed into a spooky Halloween extravaganza. Tickets are only $6 per person in advance, $5 for season pass holders, and $10 at the door. Funds raised will help Tiger World with disaster recovery planning. For more events details, check out the Facebook event pages for Friday and Saturday.

Trick or Train at the NC Transportation Museum is set for October 26. Kids ages 3-12 in costume will receive FREE admission and a train ride with paying adult. Enjoy frightful family fun, creepy conductors, costume contest, and more spooktacular activities.

Additionally, many area churches and the YMCA of Rowan County host Trunk-or-Treats throughout the month.

New this year is A Slightly Bizarre Bazaar, which is specifically geared towards grown-ups who want to have a little spooky fun of their own. This event will be held on October 25 on E. Fisher St in Downtown Salisbury and features a performance of The Witches Dance, as well as a grown-up costume contest.


Support Local Makers this Holiday Season

This amazing season of holidays, events, and community togetherness serves as a melting pot of inspiration for our local artists and makers. Many local makers set up vendor booths at these festivals to sell their handcrafted holiday decor, artwork, jewelry, soaps, ornaments, and more. Lisa Schoolcraft of Treetop Magic said “it seems like fall festivals are popular here because of the weather and people are starting to think of getting unique Christmas presents.”


Shop handmade goods from local artists and makers at upcoming fall festivals this season! Photo by David Roman of RomanDa Photography


Year after year, after those lazy days of summer have come to a close, families like my own, look forward not only to the changes in weather, but also to these events which overtime have become traditions. We look forward to seeing those artists who seem to make an appearance at every event and witnessing how their work has changed and evolved. We also get excited to welcome the many new faces who are sharing their creations with the world for the very first time.

As you begin to head out to enjoy all the fun that this season has to offer, keep your shopping list close at hand and be sure to visit the local artists and vendors. From handcrafted jewelry and clothing, to carefully crafted lotions and salves, area artisans have something for every loved one on your list. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.