Cheerwine’s 100th anniversary, by the numbers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 28, 2017

City officials still aren’t sure just how many people showed up at last weekend’s Cheerwine Centennial Celebration, which was thrown in honor of the soft drink’s 100th anniversary.

Some think as many as 30,000 people could have attended. But Salisbury Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO James Meacham said he is sticking to a more conservative number – 15,000.

“That (number) was largely taken from the fact that Cheerwine physically distributed over 40,000 cans of product,” Meacham said. “So if you assume two to three per person, I could see how 15,000 people would consume 40,000 (drinks).”

Using that 15,000-person estimate, Meacham was able to input that number – along with other data – into something called an economic impact calculator.

“We look at what the projected spending (is) and what the total impact of the event (is),” Meacham said. “And so that is looking at everything from booking entertainment, music, vendors, police, security, and (looking at) what the visitors spent.”

With all of those factors taken into consideration, Meacham was able calculate the total economic impact earned from the festival – $730,000.

“For this one event, this one day, $730,000 is a large economic impact,” Meacham said. “(It was) very positive for the community.”

Meacham said that $730,000 is not the most the city has earned from an event. But he also said that Rowan County’s other major events are multi-day affairs.

Joy Harper, who is head of marketing for Cheerwine and the great-great-granddaughter of Cheerwine’s founder, said that they had expected about 10,000 people at the event.

“So the Cheerwine Centennial Celebration definitely exceeded our expectations,” she said.

When asked whether she could see any other Cheerwine-related events in the future, Harper said they are “open to exploring” it – in large part because of the higher-than-expected turnout last weekend.

“The 100th is a special moment in time,” she said. “But, after seeing the support from our fans last Saturday in Salisbury, I think our interest is piqued in hosting something again before our next major milestone anniversary.”