Wes Whitson

Wes Whitson

Wilkes Community College announced that Wes Whitson will be the new director of MerleFest.

Whitson will fill the position held by Ted Hagaman, who announced his plans to retire after serving as festival director for the last 15 years. Hagaman said he will retire in the fall of 2022.

Whitson joined WCC in 2017, and has served as operations manager for the past five years.

After graduating from West Charlotte High School in 1995, he earned a bachelor of science degree in parks and recreation management from Western Carolina University.

Prior to joining WCC, Whitson worked in banking and real estate and most recently in hospitality and resort rental management through his family’s co-ownership of Leatherwood Mountains resort in Ferguson.

Whitson’s experiences with hospitality and event management provided him the opportunity to share the beauty of the mountains in western Wilkes with people from across the country. He said nothing brings him more joy than sharing such things with others.

“I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to serve WCC and our community through MerleFest,” added Whitson.

“Having the opportunity to work with such an amazing organization over the past five years has been inspiring to say the least. I’m still taken back each and every day as I discover new ways in which MerleFest and Wilkes Community College make a difference in our region for those who need it the most. It’s an honor to contribute to that effort and I look forward to building on the great tradition of giving back that MerleFest has established over the past 33 years.”

Hagaman said, “After serving 15 years as festival director at MerleFest and 21 years as executive director of events and hospitality at Wilkes Community College, I feel it is the right time to start planning for retirement. My wife and I would like to travel and spend more time with family. I plan to work one more year at the college and retire in the fall of 2022.”

Hagaman added, “We chose to promote Wes into the director’s chair now so I can spend the next year working as a mentor to him and a new events operations specialist. There is a lot to learn, and this will provide both of them with the support necessary to ensure a smooth transition. Wes is a people person and a man of high character and integrity. He has been very involved in MerleFest for the past five years, and I am confident he will do an outstanding job leading the festival. I feel very good about the future of MerleFest and the wonderful team we have assembled to carry it forward.”

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