Cleveland County’s unmistakable community spirit is fueled by a variety of festivals, games and events celebrating local art, music, food, culture, sports and more.
Cleveland County is proud to be home to the American Legion World Series, the amateur baseball competition played by 5,400 teams in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico each year. Every August, the game draws thousands of visitors to Shelby, North Carolina to experience the thrill of the competition and the spirit of tradition of one of the most successful amateur athletic leagues in the nation. Since its inception in 1925, the league has had 10 million players and nearly 60 percent of current college players are graduates of the American Legion program. The 7th Inning Stretch Festival is a local favorite that came about as a result of the American Legion World Series and its success in Shelby. The festival features a 5K run, a Little Miss American Legion Beauty Pageant, world-renowned musicians such as The Charlie Daniels Band, who played the festival in 2017, tournaments and all kinds of games.
True to Cleveland County’s musical heritage, many local events and festivals incorporate live music. Local favorites include Shelby’s annual Art of Sound music festival, which features free performances by local, regional and national acts, the Cleveland County Chamber’s Mush, Music & Mutts Festival, featuring live music, craft beer, a chili cook-off, a pet parade and Little Miss Liver Mush Pageant, and the Earl Scruggs Center’s annual Rhythm & Roots Run, listed by Runner’s World as one of 18 5Ks that are “awesomely unique”. The 5K kicks off with a banjo tribute to bluegrass musician Earl Scruggs at the Don Gibson Theatre, named after the country singer and Shelby native, and finishes with performances by local bands.
Other popular local events include the Real to Reel International Film Festival, held annually in Kings Mountain, Shelby Alive, an outdoor concert extravaganza, and Shelby Hamfest, hosted by the Shelby Amateur Radio Club.