The goal of the inaugural Thrive NC event was to bring the community together through food, culture, and community. The event featured a 2-day festival featuring food and drink samples, cooking demonstrations by the area’s most popular chefs, and live music by well-established local musicians. Though the true draw was definitely the foodie festival, Thrive NC, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield, also featured a Summit, which brought food policy thought leaders and community leaders together to address nutrition and food as an economic development tool.

Food impacts our overall health on many different levels and is also a key factor in our unique identities. We often overlook how much our world revolves around food, so Thrive NC was the perfect opportunity for Triangle area leaders to address it, while also providing an opportunity for the community to enjoy North Carolina cuisine.

Food & Drink

Local food and drink options were definitely front and center at Thrive NC! Both new and established restaurants and breweries lined City Market’s streets offering delicious samples. Poole’s Diner featured a Lump Crab Doughnut with smoked tomato and whipped bearnaise. Carroll’s Kitchen offered a variety of its amazing kolaches. Kaiju Bowl & Bao warmed up the crowd with its delicious pork belly and kale ramen.

WakeMed reminded us to stay healthy by serving a salad made with superfoods such as spinach and chia seeds. So refreshing! Many more food items included produce and ingredients sourced right here in North Carolina.

Some of the Triangle’s favorite breweries were there to help attendees wash down all those tasty food samples. Brewery Bhavana offered Pithy on tap, which is an IPA featuring “secret” hops! Other breweries in attendance included Lonerider, White Street, Trophy Brewing, and Aviator.


Whenever you go to a new city, the first thing you want to know about is the food scene. Where do the locals eat? Is there a certain cuisine that the area is famous for? Food is a defining factor in any culture, and that culture was definitely on full display at Thrive NC.

In the Triangle, we value diversity in our food, which is why so many ethnic restaurants such as Sassool and Kimbap thrive in this area. We are also a true southern city that loves its BBQ! Representing the south at Thrive NC were Sam Jones BBQ and Southern Charred, both of which featured pulled pork.


Food brings us together! The vibe at Thrive NC can only be described as joyous. There were tables scattered about, and people would gather around them trying their samples and asking about others have tried. “Where did you get that??” was a common refrain!

And I was fortunate to share a table with a woman named Susan, as I devoured braised short ribs with pea puree from Counting House, the 21c Museum Hotel’s restaurant & bar in Durham. She was there with her few longtime neighbors. They had all lived in Raleigh since the 1990s and considered each other an extended family!

The event also featured live music, which definitely added to the upbeat atmosphere. Listening to Kasey Tyndall’s country tunes while I ate a Sam Jones’ BBQ slider is certainly a true representation of the south!

” The two day Thrive NC event in Downtown Raleigh’s City Market, including proceeds from all ticket sales, will provide over $400,000 in contributions to local non-profits that help to solve food insecurity issues in NC… Blue Cross NC is the primary driver for the initiative and event, and its related community impacts “


Future of Thrive NC in 2019 & Beyond

Thrive NC 2018 featured thousands of visitors and sold out on both days. Don’t miss out next time! Sign up for the email list for alerts about future events. We are hearing that Thrive NC 2019 details will be officially unveiled later this fall, possibly as early as October. With so many festivals taking place throughout the year in the Raleigh area, we definitely think you should add this to your “must attend” list. Delicious food is certainly the best way to bring the community together, and Thrive NC proved that to be true!

So what did you like the most about Thrive 2018? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.

This post was created in collaboration with the Downtown Raleigh Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication via TBN