Merlefest: A NC Folk Music Tradition

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merlefest logoMerlefest is an annual four-day traditional and contemporary roots music festival featuring bluegrass, folk and Appalachian roots music from across the country. Happening this coming year from April 23- 26, 2020, Merlefest takes place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and is a favorite of thousands in the area.

Originally hosted by folk music legend and Grammy Award-winner Doc Watson until his passing in 2012, Merlefest was named after Doc’s late son, Eddie Merle Watson, who died in a tragic tractor accident. This will be the first MerleFest since Doc Watson’s death.

Great Lineup For 2020

Scythian playing on stage: MerlefestThe 2020 Merlefest lineup consists of more than 100 artists performing across 13 stages, including Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, The Jerry Douglas Band, Sam Bush Band, Scythian, The Waybacks, Jim Lauderdale, The Steel Wheels, Donna the Buffalo, and so much more.

In addition to world-class music, the Festival offers a large children’s activities area, called “Little Pickers Family Area,” a student showcase for children, “Pickin’ Place” for any musician to join in and jam, the Songwriters Coffeehouse, a Nature Walk, crafters and over 70 vendors to shop from. Camping and RV area available at nearby River’s Edge Campground.


The Waybacks at Merlefest 2012Ticket sales start in November and prices range from $70-$90 Single Day Passes to $185-$285 Multi-Day Passes with early bird discounts before February.

Children 12 and under are FREE in the general admission seating areas, however, tickets are required for everyone in the reserved seating area.

A Rivers Edge camping package and backstage tour are also available as add-ons at an additional cost. Purchase tickets at Proceeds from the Fest benefit Wilkes Community College.


1328 S Collegiate Dr.
Wilkesboro, NC
Phone: 1-800-343-7857

Who is your favorite act you’ve ever seen at Merlefest?

About The Author:

Kristi was born and raised just up the road in Mount Airy (a.k.a. Mayberry) and frequented Winston-Salem often growing up for school field trips, shopping, and dining. After attending Appalachian State University, and a brief stint living in Southern Virginia, Kristi returned to Winston-Salem, NC in 1999 and began her work in non-profit, public relations and writing. She and her family enjoy the convenience of living near downtown Winston-Salem. She enjoys the arts, photography and cooking. "I'm a small town girl at heart, but Winston-Salem isn't an overwhelming city. It is rich with friendly people, history, culture and has a vibrant art community and that is why I am proud to call this "My Winston-Salem!"

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