If you’re looking to slow down the pace a bit while still enjoying plenty of culture and craft beer, Salisbury and Rowan County are calling your name.  

Craft beer will be the focal point as we kick off Rowan Arts & Ag, a series of events celebrating arts and agriculture together, with a craft beer festival in historic Gold Hill in honor of NC Beer Month. Weekend Arts & Ag events will follow throughout the year as the county highlights its vibrant arts community and agricultural roots.

The Rowan Arts & Ag Beer Festival will be held April 7 from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Gold Hill Mines Historic Park and Village, featuring Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery and Eatery and New Sarum Brewing Company, both of Salisbury, and Carolina Malt House of Cleveland, supplier of custom malts from grain grown in the Carolinas. 

Artisans and vendors will sell handcrafted items, and bands will perform rock, folk, bluegrass and “NewGrass” music on two stages. Food trucks will be on site, and a kids’ entertainment area will be provided. Live performances on the main stage at Gold Hill Mines Historic Park Amphitheater include the Lauren Light Duo (3:00 – 4:00 p.m.), Lilly Brothers (4:30 – 5:30 p.m.) and Sassafrass (6:00 – 8:00 p.m.). In between, The Trailblazers and other bands will perform on the small stage in Gold Hill Village.

Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery and Eatery, located at 421 North Lee Street in Salisbury, is an extension of Morgan Ridge Vineyard & Brewhouse of Gold Hill. Owners Tommy and Amie Baudoin have mastered unique craft beer styles, with flagship offerings including Weekend Wit and Flat Creek Swamp Water. The Baudoins have been awarded the Grape Growers Excellence Award by the N.C. Grape Growers Association, along with gold, silver and bronze medals in the NC State Fair Wine Competition and the Southeast Wine Competition. 

New Sarum Brewing, located at 109 North Lee Street, was one of only three NC breweries to receive a gold medal from the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, where Lemon Balm and Beet Hoppy Wheat won in the Herb and Spice Beer category.  The brewery features a lineup of brews named for favorite local destinations. Examples include High Rock Red Ale, named for nearby High Rock Lake, Hurley Park Blood Orange Wheat, after a popular Salisbury recreational park, and Old Stone House IPA, coined for a preserved 1911 Georgian-architecture home that is now a museum. (Go a step further and learn about the inspiration for this tasty IPA at Colonial Spring Frolic at the Old Stone House April 7 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The event includes historic tours of the colonial home, egg dyeing, musket firing demonstrations, woodworking, open fire cooking and recipe tastings, candle making, children’s games, colonial dancers and music.)

Historic Gold Hill is a restored 19th-century gold mining boom town that features a quaint shopping village, wood sidewalks reminiscent of the Old West, 70-acre scenic park and a rich base of bluegrass musicians and fans who come together every Friday night for a community jam session at the E.H. Montgomery General Store. For more than a decade, musicians from all over the region have gathered to swap tunes, compare instruments and entertain those who love to listen to traditional bluegrass. The Montgomery Store is also home base for the North Carolina Bluegrass Association.

Situated along Interstate 85 between Charlotte and Greensboro, Salisbury invites you to explore a bustling downtown district with art galleries, shops, three local theaters, historic homes, museums and more. Restaurants such as City Tavern, Go Burrito and Salty Caper are popular with diners looking for a wide choice of today’s best craft beers. Only a short drive away are popular destinations such as the N.C. Transportation Museum and Patterson Farm Market and Tours.

The N.C. Transportation Museum will host the Tractors and Trains Festival April 14 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00  p.m. as part of the Rowan Arts & Ag series. The event features modern tractors, antique farm equipment, steam-powered tractors, live music and activities such as blacksmithing, a cider press, corn shelling, hayrides, and kids’ activities.

Patterson Farm Market and Tours, which was recently voted “Most-Loved Place to Go” in Hulafrog’s regional contest, will welcome visitors in May for strawberry season and will be the site of a Rowan Arts & Ag farm-to-table dining experience.

For more information on the Rowan Arts & Ag schedule of events, visit www.rowanartsandag.com. Deadline for artists/artisans to register to exhibit their work at various events throughout the yearlong celebration is March 31, 2018.