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Editorial: Cheerwine event should serve as example for digital events

There’s something nice about enjoying an ice cold Cheerwine and some local food in downtown Salisbury while listening to hit songs with thousands of our closest friends.

And since 2017, that’s been an annual tradition for Rowan Countians and anyone willing to come downtown for a free concert. It’s been one of the community’s best events since its start. And downtown restaurants would report it’s been a good day for sales, too.

Out of necessity, the festival moved online only this year. And while it wasn’t quite the same as an in-person event, organizers pulled off an enjoyable, well-produced event that’s worth repeating in 2021 if large events still cannot be held.

Artists recorded their performances, which were edited into roughly two hours and 30 minutes of music (and some advertisements) worth watching, particularly the final two energy-filled sets. Members of headliner Sugarhill Gang performed in separate locations, but it was an enjoyable performance nonetheless.

City staff, Cheerwine and all involved deserve recognition for their hard work in putting together a good, virtual event.

Our current reality, one with some businesses open and large events prohibited, may be here to stay for a while, perhaps through the end of the year. And any in-person events likely will require a lot more spacing than usual to comply with health-focused rules.

The work of those involved in this year’s virtual festival should serve as an example of the type of quality event that’s still possible in a world where online only is the modus operandi.

In the meantime and to ensure the city, Rowan County and North Carolina can once again enjoy the Cheerwine Festival in downtown Salisbury, everyone must pay closer attention to health guidelines — including one-way signs at grocery stores, handwashing and wearing masks in crowded places. Most people are thought to recover from COVID-19, but restrictions will not lift entirely if cases continue rising. The speed that a vaccine is developed will play the most critical role in ensuring that major events can return, but everyone has a part to play in ensuring realities of life before COVID-19 can return in relatively short order.

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