Wings Over Wayne Air Show has been crowned Event of the Year -- the most prestigious award given by the N.C. Association of Festivals & Events.

The award was announced at the 2018 ShowFest Conference held Jan. 28-29 in Charlotte.

Ashlin Glatthar, director of travel and tourism for Goldsboro-Wayne County, accepted the award on behalf of the event.

Overall, Wayne County brought home four awards from the Charlotte-based conference, marking its most decorated year yet.

The award committee for ShowFest is made up of four judges who are not members of the association and who are industry experts in the event planning industry.

When deciding the winner of this year's top award for Event of the Year, the judges announced that Wings Over Wayne Air Show was "chosen for their community partnership and the survey of the attendees."

The air show was not the only winner from the county.

Goldsboro's Beak Week Poultry Festival, held on Sept. 9, 2017, received the Rising Star Award.

The N.C. Pickle Festival, held last April in Mount Olive, was recognized for its creative design of the commemorative pickle ornament and the event tabloid.

The Wings Over Wayne Air Show is a biennial event scheduled in odd-numbered years.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will be headlining the next Wings Over Wayne Air Show scheduled for April 27 and 28, 2019, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The event is free and open to the public.

The air show surpassed the status quo of past years, setting new records for itself with the most funding raised, highest volunteer participation, and record-breaking attendance of 230,000 for the two-day event, Glatthar said.

"For the first time in 2017, our office conducted on-the-ground surveys collecting data from about 300 attendees at the air show," she said.

"From the answers, we were able to determine where our visitors are coming from, which advertising methods were most successful, and (the) percentage of people who stayed the night in hotel/motels."

The air show gives back to the community in ways that are hard to define and has become more than a recruitment tool or a feel-good event, she said.

"It's become part of our community's legacy, and even that of our state's, as it has grown to be the largest air show in North Carolina," Glatthar said.

"We can measure the economic impact that the event has on our region, but it's impossible to measure the countless hours given by the service men and women stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base who are a part of the planning and execution of the event. I'm thrilled that this award recognizes their extraordinary dedication that makes the air show a success."

Visit Goldsboro, also known as the Goldsboro-Wayne County Travel & Tourism Office, nominated Wings Over Wayne Air Show held on May 20-21, 2017, for Event of the Year because of the extraordinary growth and impact this event has on local, regional, and state levels, Glatthar said.

The Rising Star Award is given to an event that is less than five years old and has demonstrated growth and established significance in its community.

"It takes a lot to grow an event," Glatthar said. "It's a culmination of teamwork, generous sponsors, and genuine drive to make the community a better place. Those are the ingredients that have taken the initial crowd size of 3,000 in 2013 to a whopping 15,000 in 2017."

Since day one, the Beak Week Committee has consisted of many local nonprofits and city government departments, she said.

"You can have the best committee around, but without the right kind of support, those ideas will not get far," Glatthar said. "Beak Week has amazing sponsors that not only contribute their dollars but their time as well."

The North Carolina Pickle Festival, held each April, is sponsored by the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce. The 32nd annual festival will be held April 27-28.

"I am excited that the North Carolina Pickle Festival, for the 23rd consecutive year, has been recognized as one of the outstanding festivals in the state," said Julie Beck, Chamber president and festival co-chairman.

"This year, we won for best merchandise and best print media. The competition is tough, but we are 'Dill-ighted' to know that our consistent and creative approach in marketing the festival gave us this honor that allows us to call the N.C. Pickle Festival an award-winning event."

The N.C. Association of Festivals & Events was established in the late 1980s and is an organization comprised of festival and event coordinators, key volunteers, and vendors to the event industry across North Carolina and neighboring states.

It serves as a forum to support its members by facilitating training and networking opportunities, and sharing information and resources.

The organization hosts ShowFest -- Event Innovators Conference & Trade Show each year in Charlotte to bring event planners together to learn and to be recognized for the contributions their events and festivals have on their community.