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Cabarrus County Wows an International Crowd

More than 300 delegates, including faith-based travel planners from 25 states, gathered in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, August 5-7 for the 2014 Going On Faith Conference. Held each August, the Going On Faith Conference is the largest annual gathering of faith-based travel planners and destinations in the United States.

“We had travel companies and destinations with us from 34 states and seven foreign countries,” said conference CEO Joe Cappuzzello. “It’s remarkable to think that travel planners can join us for three days at Going On Faith and meet representatives from the United States, Canada, Ethiopia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan and Turkey.”

Cabarrus County is home to many of the country’s NASCAR racing teams, and delegates enjoyed a “fasten your seat belts” opening event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway compliments of Levy Restaurants and the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“As soon as we opened the gates to the track and brought the pace car in, the line started forming,” said conference chairman Charlie Presley. “We had so many delegates lining up to do a lap, they had to bring in a pickup truck to help out. It was a big night for selfies on the track.”

The convention and visitors bureau also hosted an evening meal the following night and brought in Shableek and his band to entertain. Shableek, a master musician, played jazz saxophone and clarinet during and after dinner. Concord mayor Scott Padgett stopped by to welcome the delegation; CVB leisure sales manager Carrie Hendrickson hosted the evening.

“Cabarrus County has a lot of faith-based groups of all ages,” said Hendrickson afterward. “Great Wolf Lodge gets many youth groups, and Embassy Suites does a lot of church groups, as well. Levy Restaurants did such a great job with their dinner at the Speedway. When they brought out the pace cars for delegates to circle the track, that really made the evening.

“Our dinner the next night went very well, I thought,” said Hendrickson. “The mayor is always eager to welcome important groups, and he’s very entertaining. Then Shableek knocked it out of the park. I had a lot of delegates tell me the next day how much they enjoyed his music.”

During the course of the three-day conference, more than 4,000 business appointments were held between planners and destination representatives. During an afternoon of sightseeing, hundreds of delegates traveled to the Concord Mills shopping complex and the Billy Graham Library, home to the memoirs and memorabilia of America’s most acclaimed evangelist.

Other meal sponsors were the Globus Family of Brands, Diamond Tours, EDI and Visit South Bend Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau. The conference’s traditional opening ice cream social was hosted by Experience Jefferson (Louisiana).

Educational and motivational offerings included an address by Brian Parsley, an internationally acclaimed business speaker, and a program on the faith-based travel planner readership of Going On Faith magazine by its publisher, Mac Lacy.

The 2015 Going On Faith Conference will be held August 4-6 in South Bend, Indiana, home to the University of Notre Dame. For registration details, visit, or call 800-628-0993.