10 Reasons You Should Visit Shelby, North Carolina, This Spring


Shelby North Carolina

Cleveland County Courthouse; Photo credit: Justin Kase Conder

If you’ve never been to Shelby in Cleveland County, picture the quintessential classic Southern small town and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. Selected almost 40 years ago as one of the first five cities in the state to be part of the North Carolina Main Street Program, which aimed to revitalize communities and foster economic development, Shelby has undergone many positive changes over the past few decades. The area was first built upon the textile industry and at one point was among the highest cotton-producing regions in the Southeast, says Emily Epley, travel and tourism director for Cleveland County Tourism. Several years ago, the city decided to capitalize further on its history, weaving in the lives of two historic locals: musicians Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson. The result is a modern small town with close ties to its musical heritage through a new museum and theater. Each facility draws in throngs of visitors on its own, but Shelby entices them to stay with much more to see and do in this close-knit community. Take a look.

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Explore the Earl Scruggs Center

Photo credit: Justin Kase Conder

Opened in 2014, this museum combines the history of Cleveland County with the life story of five-string banjo master Earl Scruggs. In only five short years, it’s hosted visitors from every state and 18 countries – including a loyal following in Japan. “There’s a major resurgence in popularity of bluegrass music among the younger generation, so we’re seeing people making a pilgrimage for that component,” says Audrey Whetten, executive director of the Uptown Shelby Association.

See more: Why You Should Visit the Caldwell Heritage Museum in Lenoir

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