Regional Growth
9:32 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Rock the Block Yields to New Culinary Festival

A Winston-Salem festival that opened the doors to downtown for 12 years is coming to an end.

Music plays during Rock the Block 2013.
Music plays during Rock the Block 2013.
Credit Photo courtesy of the City of Winston-Salem

 City officials announced last week that the annual Rock the Block festival is no more. It started in 2002 as a way to bring people to the downtown area, which at the time was struggling to find after-hours visitors. 

Ed McNeal, a city spokesman, said that since its debut the downtown has grown so much that it no longer needs a city-run festival to help steer business there. 

 "What we're seeing is the dreams of a downtown that is vibrant, that is inviting to everyone, we've seen that come true," McNeal said. "Now I think everyone in city government and most people that live in downtown would tell you that it's not done. There's still things we need to do try to continue with vibrancy." 

 Although Rock the Block is ending, there will still be a downtown festival in its September time slot. T.W. Garner, maker of the Texas Pete line of sauces, said it will hold a multi-day culinary festival the third weekend in September that will showcase area chefs. Like Rock the Block, The Culinary Arts Festival will have live music on multiple stages.  

And though Rock the Block may officially be over, McNeal said it will have a lasting impact.

 "People were coming to the event - yes for the music, yes for the food, yes for the camaraderie and the togetherness that is brings, but they also came down and were able to discover that downtown was a safe place, an entertaining place and a great place to bring you family and have a good time," he said. "And once people have that good impression, they come back." 

 During its peak year in 2010, Rock the Block brought in an estimated 50,000 people.