MerleFest has been moved to the weekend of Sept. 16-19, 2021, festival organizers announced Monday.

The 2020 edition of the music festival, held at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, was canceled due to public safety concerns amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. It normally is held the last weekend in April.

Organizers said that after the one-time move to the fall in 2021, MerleFest will be moved back to the last weekend in April starting with the 2022 festival. Rolling Stone magazine called MerleFest “the gold standard for bluegrass, Americana, and string-music festivals.”

“We chose to announce this change now to give everyone an opportunity to put this on their calendar and to allow us time to secure all artists and contract the necessary support services,” said Festival Director Ted Hagaman, adding that lineup information and other festival details will be coming soon.  

“After months of deliberation and extensive research with leading medical experts, we feel it is in the best interest of our fans, artists, staff, college and community to reschedule the 2021 festival to the fall,” stated Hagaman.

“We have a reputation for providing a quality, safe and organized festival and feel this move is necessary to again deliver that type of event. We’d like to express appreciation to many for their ‘can do’ spirit in rearranging schedules and plans to accommodate this move,” he said.

“I’d especially like to thank the organizers of Carolina in the Fall for agreeing to forego their festival next year in order to support our festival.  It truly is a team effort in our community,” said Hagaman.

This year’s Carolina in the Fall Music and Food Festival has also been canceled, organizers of the event announced Monday. Carolina in the Fall is normally held in downtown Wilkesboro in September through a partnership of Heart of Folk LLC, the Kruger Brothers and the Town of Wilkesboro.

MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson.

The festival is a celebration of "traditional plus" music, a mix of traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including old-time, classic country, bluegrass, folk and gospel, and blues, and expanded to include Americana, classic rock, and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the multi-day event.

MerleFest is the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

Window World, headquartered in North Wilkesboro, is the presenting sponsor of MerleFest.

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