Media Advisory

October 25, 2021

Melissa Woody, 423-593-2118 

Cleveland, Tennessee Introduces Hot Slaw and Art Y’all, National Hot Slaw Festival

Cleveland is introducing a fun, unique and totally unexpected food and art festival, Hot Slaw and Art Y’all! Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 9 in Downtown Cleveland. 

Hot slaw is a unique side dish or topping not familiar on most menus… UNLESS you are in Cleveland, Tennessee. The mustard, mayo, secret sauce concoction is famous and common around these parts, but that is apparently not the case elsewhere. 

“I visited my family in Missouri and was in search of hot slaw and no one there knew what it was,” said Dwight Richardson, member of the Hot Slaw Festival committee and Art is Here Partnership board. “I always have hot slaw on my hot dog!”

Paul Wyrick with Cleveland City Recreation said he grew up in Roane County, Tennessee, and had never heard of hot slaw until he moved to Cleveland. Now, he says he is hooked! 

At the same time these light bulbs were illuminating, Mary Tom Jenkins found a story in Garden & Gun magazine entitled “In Search of Southern Cole Slaw.” The story, written by Jennifer Justus and published April 2019, says “tucked into pockets where Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama meet, you’ll find one unique style of slaw that goes by two different names: hot slaw and pool room slaw.” The story goes on to call the variety of recipes “slaw cousins” and points to the Star Vue Drive-in movie theater in Cleveland, Tennessee for the bright yellow cabbage concoction we call hot slaw.   

“Cleveland seems to be the hot bed of hot slaw and if you go outside of Cleveland, you’d be hard pressed to find it,” said Melissa Woody, vice president for Tourism Development at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. “About five years ago, I hosted 14 culinary journalists for a media visit. I brought up the subject of hot slaw, probably because I’m a huge fan, and no one had heard of it. Half of these journalists were from southern states. That’s when I began to wonder if maybe hot slaw was invented right here in Cleveland!”

Organizers plan to celebrate the community’s hot slaw heritage with the National Hot Slaw Festival, dubbed Hot Slaw and Art Y’all! The event is set for April 9 in Downtown Cleveland, Noon – 9 p.m. and will stretch from the Courthouse Square, down First Street to First Street Square. The festival organizers include the city of Cleveland, Art is Here Partnership, MainStreet Cleveland and the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

“Every event — whether a festival, a wedding, or a funeral — every event has an arts component,” said Connie Gatlin, Art is Here Partnership Chairperson. “We are planning to infuse this fun food festival with wonderful and talented artists offering music, dancing, visual art demonstrations and wares for sale. The whole day will be a delight!”

Activities and event features are still in the works, but the festival is sure to include live music, artist exhibitors and vendors, pop-up street performances, family games, contests, food vendors, and yes, hot slaw! The event will end with the showing of an outdoor movie as a tribute to the Star-Vue Drive-in, the hot slaw hub of yesteryear!

“We are giving folks another great reason to spend quality time in Downtown Cleveland,” said Sharon Marr, MainStreet Cleveland Executive Director. “We see this growing into a huge draw to our downtown and especially our local merchants.”

Mark your calendars for April 9 and keep checking for more information. If your business is interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Melissa Woody at or Sharon Marr at