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“Guilt free good time”: Non-alcoholic beverage festival held at Camp North End

CHARLOTTE — It’s not your typical beverage festival. On Saturday, hundreds of people attended the Counterculture Festival. It’s the second year for what was the first non-alcoholic beverage festival in the Carolinas. Whether you are sober curious or just a fan of mocktails, attendees say there is something for everyone.

“You don’t have to worry about waking up the next morning and not waking up the next morning,” attendee Ebony Fernandez said.

Attendees say it was a guilt-free good time at Camp North End. Ebony Fernandez was one of hundreds of people to pack Camp North End for a non-alcoholic beverage festival

“Most of the time when you go somewhere to get a mocktail in Charlotte, they tell you they can’t make it and they give you a flavored lemonade,” she said.

In a city that often has events with alcohol components, attendees say it was nice to go somewhere with plenty of other options.

The event was put on by Counterculture Club, a Charlotte social group and events company that challenges the belief that alcohol is required to have fun.

“We are making it more normalized to choose to not drink or not drink for whatever reason and not feel that social pressure,” organizer Molly Ruggere said.

For many people, January is a time to go dry, a month without alcohol. There’s arguably no better time to experiment. IWSR, a firm that tracks alcohol trends, is now a $13 billion market.

When it comes to those non-alcoholic drinks, the Counterculture Festival showed there’s more out there than just water and soda. The event featured beverage samples, a bottle shop, and local vendors.

“You don’t always have to be drinking to enjoy yourself,” attendee Morgan Conroy said.

“Sober isn’t boring,” attendee Kelsey Patterson said. “You can still have fun and it is awesome we can still go to events like this.”

“Makes driving away from here much safer,” attendee Jay Fletcher said.

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