Acoustic Kids programming will be presented again at this year’s MerleFest, which is Sept. 16-19 at Wilkes Community College.

“Acoustic Kids looks forward to our 20th MerleFest this September,” said Lauren May, Acoustic Kids facilitator. “Each year, it’s a joy to provide festival stage performance opportunities for young musicians attending the festival and support them in them sharing their talents with the MerleFest audience.”

Young musicians from the MerleFest audience will again be on stage in Andy May’s Acoustic Kids Showcases during the festival, with some just learning to play an instrument and others on their way to performance careers.

Registration online before Aug. 4 is required for youths to perform on stage.

The Acoustic Kids guidelines are a little different this year to help make up for MerleFest’s cancelation in 2020 due to COVID-19 and to accommodate having the festival in September.

Those who would have been age-eligible (16 or younger) for Acoustic Kids at MerleFest 2020 will still be eligible at MerleFest 2021.

Accompanists may be any age, and mixed-age groups are accepted — including family bands.

Music teachers often accompany their students, using the program to give their students a real-life performance experience that is difficult to find elsewhere.

“No matter their skill level, Acoustic Kids celebrates young musicians’ achievements,” said May.

A festival wristband is required to participate, but there is no additional charge. To register, go to https://andymay.com/acoustic-kids-registration-merlefest.

The Acoustic Kids website has further details.

In addition, Chris Austin Songwriting Contest judges have been announced.

This year’s panel of music industry professionals consists of Dolphus Ramseur, Amythyst Kiah, Darin and Brooke Aldridge and the Milk Carton Kids.

Early bird ticket prices are in effect for MerleFest through Sept. 15.

Window World is the presenting sponsors for MerleFest.

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