Cheerwine’s May 20 birthday bash promises music, barbecue, drink, stuff

Published 11:40 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Staff report

SALISBURY — The makers of Cheerwine are thanking the family-owned soft drink’s fans for “100 years of cheer” by throwing an anniversary celebration in Salisbury, its birthplace and hometown.

Cheerwine’s Centennial Celebration will be from noon to 8 p.m. May 20, a Saturday, on North Main Street.

Cheerwine was first produced in Salisbury in 1917.

“We have the best fans around, and we can’t thank them enough for ‘spreading the cheer’ for generations by introducing Cheerwine to their friends and family,” said Joy Harper, head of marketing for Cheerwine and the great-great-granddaughter of Cheerwine’s founder.

“This party is a celebration of our loyal fans, our home state and all of the people who’ve helped make Cheerwine the iconic beverage it is today.”

The Centennial Celebration will celebrate “all things Carolina” with an N.C. barbecue competition, local food, independent bands and more. The free celebration includes:

• Free Cheerwine and commemorative koozies.

• Limited-edition Cheerwine merchandise available for purchase starting at noon (limited quantities of commemorative Cheerwine signs and other items).

• Live music by Time Sawyer, Gyth Rigdon, Empire Brass, Acoustic Syndicate and Room Full of Blues.

• People’s Choice BBQ Competition from noon to 2 p.m. with Hog Heaven Barbecue, N.C. Ribs on Wheels, Rocky Top BBQ, Boone’s Barbeque, Smoke & Go BBQ and Sonny’s BBQ. People can sample barbecue from each team and vote for their favorites. Smithfield is the competition’s pork sponsor.

• Food from Cheerwine’s partners and friends, including Krispy Kreme (fresh doughnuts made in its “Hot Now Mobile Store”), Bojangles’, Fatz Cafe, Biscuitville, Cackalacky (which makes a Cheerwine Sweet Sauce) and King of Pops (which will offer a Cheerwine-flavored popsicle).

• Biergarten with N.C. craft beer, featuring Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and New Sarum Brewing Co.

• Family-Friendly Kids’ Zone, with magicians, jugglers, a rock climbing wall, obstacle course, slides, bounce house, lawn games and more.

• Free tour of Rowan Museum’s multiroom exhibit celebrating Cheerwine’s 100 years. This will include a visit by the historic 1927 Cheerwine Ford truck.

• Our State Magazine welcome center.

• In honor of Cheerwine’s centennial, the Rowan Museum at 202 N. Main St. also is hosting a special exhibit throughout 2017. The exhibit showcases a century of Cheerwine memorabilia, artifacts and photos.

To RSVP for the Centennial Celebration and to stay up to date on details and transportation options, visit

Since L.D. Peeler started Cheerwine in 1917, the soft drink company has remained independent, family-owned and based in its hometown of Salisbury.

“While much has changed around Cheerwine over the last hundred years, the taste and authenticity of Cheerwine itself will never change,” said Cliff Ritchie, Cheerwine’s president.

Ritchie is the great-grandson of Peeler. His children, Joy Harper and Carl Ritchie, are fifth generation and currently work for the family business.

Throughout 2017, Cheerwine will continue rolling out new editions in its centennial can series, with $100 instant-win cans sprinkled in 12 packs. Cheerwine fans can collect all seven cans in the series before the end of the year.