The Historic Morganton Festival, Inc. won two major awards at the North Carolina Association of Festivals and Events ShowFest Conference in Charlotte January 26 and 27. The North Carolina Association of Festivals and Events is comprised of almost 200 festivals and events and serves as a year-round forum for Festival and Event coordinators, key volunteers, and vendors to the industry. 

Maureen Austin won The Betsy Roseman Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Morganton Festival won the Best Non-print Media Award for its 30 second commercial produced by Motion Media.

“The Morganton Festival has taken place in Downtown Morganton for the past 39 years, and Maureen has consecutively volunteered for 25 of them. She is an essential part of putting on Morganton’s largest festival,” said Morganton Festival Director Sharon Jablonski. “Maureen continues to show just as much, if not more, enthusiasm and support for the Morganton Festival as she did when she first began volunteering. Every festival and event should have a Maureen Austin on their team. We cannot thank her enough for all of her help over the years, and she is very deserving of this prestigious award.”

Austin said she got involved with volunteering for the Morganton Festival because it was a fun event that offered the chance to see lots of people and connect with friends while enjoying a weekend in Downtown Morganton. Her love for the event, the City and the City’s Main Street Department kept her coming back time and again. She said she was speechless when she won the award.

“I was humbled and thrilled that I was chosen for the award,” Austin said. “It was out of left field, and I had no idea — I was just speechless. It’s just a humbling feeling to be recognized for doing something you love.”

From selling festival swag to checking identification at the beer tent, Austin has done a little bit of everything in her 25 years of volunteering. On top of giving up her time to volunteer during the festival, Austin provides help with festival preparations throughout the year.

“There really is no other volunteer like Maureen,” Jablonski said. “She ensures that items are getting checked off the to-do list and is constantly brainstorming possible ideas to make the festival better. There is no doubt that the longevity and success of the Morganton Festival is due in no small part to the efforts of Maureen.”

The 30 second commercial produced by Motion Media advertised all the 38th annual Morganton Festival had to offer, including mouth-watering foods, games, free music and more than a mile of arts and craft vendors. It was shared across COMPAS Cable channels, on news stations in the Charlotte area, as well as multiple social media platforms, in order to draw people to the annual event.

You can view the festival commercial by visiting the Historic Morganton Festival Facebook page at

“We are very thankful to win these awards,” Jablonski said. “Everyone who works to make the Morganton Festival possible is committed to providing citizens and visitors with an excellent experience that they will remember for years to come. Without our volunteers and staff, none of this would be possible. We look forward to continuing the Morganton Festival’s tradition of excellence for many more years.”

The economic benefits of festivals are easiest to see and most often cited – festivals attract visitors, which stimulates the growth of tourism and other businesses in a town or region. 


Pictured above, from left, is Community Events Coordinator Abby Nelson, Betsy Roseman Volunteer of the Year Maureen Austin, and Morganton Festival Director Sharon Jablonski with awards presented at the ShowFest Conference.

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