SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The City of Salisbury’s famous Cheerwine Festival happened this past weekend, and attendees and organizers say they may have gotten a little more cheer than they bargained for.
City leaders confirm this was the highest turnout at the festival, with an estimated 100,000 attendees over the one-day event. But some of those attendees believe extremely long lines and a lack of vendor organization proved the beloved celebration may have outgrown its space.
“I was literally up this street, elbow to elbow. You were fighting crowds,” said festival attendee Tracey Vail.
Vail said lines were so long and sporadic that it was hard to tell where they began, where they ended, and to which vendors they belonged to.
Video of the shuttle line just to get into the festival from the overflow parking lot showed a line hundreds of people deep.
“I’ve seen posts saying that they were waiting up to two hours,” said Vail.
In a statement sent to Queen City News, a spokesperson for the City of Salisbury said:
“Our expectations for the event that day were between 50,000 to 60,000 visitors, but that figure was soon surpassed as Public Safety officials and city staff estimate close to 100,000 people were in attendance.
As we do every year after the festival, we will meet in the upcoming weeks to discuss how we can adapt and improve upon the experiences of our festivalgoers to provide a fun, safe and family-friendly event.”
Festival attendee Shanna Biggerstaff said the overcrowding and lines proved so overwhelming she spent more time driving to the event than at the event itself.
“I was an hour and a half away from there. I drove an hour and a half to go to this event,” said Biggerstaff. “I didn’t get there until 1:45, and I left before 3 o’clock because I got aggravated.”
All the attendees we spoke with suggested the city spread out the vendors over more city blocks, with the most popular food trucks on the side streets. Some even suggested a method for festival organizers to get a better handle on how many people to expect.
“It would probably be a good thing for them to sell tickets or just distribute tickets,” said attendee Sue Hogle. “That way, they can get an idea of who is coming.”
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Though Hogle says she was thankful to spend the day outdoors in the beautiful weather, she didn’t get to experience what she really came for due to the excessive lines.
“I’ve never tried Cheerwine, and I didn’t even get to try the Cheerwine. So, I was a little disappointed,” she said.