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Brightening Skies on Saturday and Sunday- What You Need to Know for MerleFest Weekend

By Joe Johnson

          MerleFest musical festival was unfortunately pummeled by rain and high winds during Friday’s performances on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. If you happened to miss out on the music, moments, and memories of MerleFest this Friday due to the gloomy weather, fear not; beginning Saturday morning, the skies will open up and the weather will be clear and sunny the rest of the weekend with little to no chance of rain Saturday or Sunday during the festival.

          When the MerleFest gates open on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m., skies will be clear and sunny with a low of 45° and a high of 72° for the day; perfect weather to bring the whole family out to MerleFest to enjoy the various performances on all 13 stages, whether the stage is outdoors or indoors! Sunday at MerleFest will be slightly warmer, with a low of 55° and a high of 75°; chances of rain remain low throughout the day on Sunday, while the skies will remain relatively cloud-free and sunny for music fans and musicians alike at MerleFest.

           If you are interested in experiencing the music, moments, and memories that are made during the weekend at MerleFest, the festival is held on the Wilkes Community College campus located at 1328 S. Collegiate Drive, Wilkesboro, N.C. 28697. This places MerleFest just a 40-minute drive away from Boone & Blowing Rock, only 31 miles away! In order to get there from Boone or Blowing Rock, you just need to take US 421 South for 31 miles and take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit), take a right off of the exit, and follow the signs set up for MerleFest parking.

          MerleFest Saturday General Admission tickets cost $90 (plus taxes & fees) and Sunday General Admission tickets cost $80 (plus taxes & fees) with tickets available online or at the box office located at the main festival entrance. The box office will be open on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Kids 12 and under get free admission with an accompanying paying adult. Tickets for the MerleFest artists’ “Late Night Jam” event on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. will cost an additional $40 and an attendee must have a Saturday entrance pass to purchase tickets for this event. “Back Stage Tour” tickets are also available for an additional $50; the tour includes the Merle Watson Garden of the Senses, MerleFest Museum, Doc Watson Dressing Room, Backstage Green Room, Artist Getaway, and an official MerleFest poster. To purchase tickets for MerleFest, visit their ticket page at https://merlefest.org/purchase/.

          There are some general guidelines provided by MerleFest organizers to help attendees have the best festival experience possible. MerleFest provides free parking, free shuttle service to the front entrance gate, free overnight storage, programming on 13 stages and a free official MerleFest Program booklet.

          The MerleFest Information Booth is located in The Shoppes at MerleFest on aisle 1. You can obtain information about the festival and the area from our wonderful volunteers at this location. This is also where you will find the official MerleFest Program booklet.

          You may come and go as you please from the festival, but your bags are subject to search each time upon re-entry. You wristband must not be removed; it must be on your wrist to get back into the festival.

           Parking is free and plentiful. You will see signs when you arrive that say “Festival Parking”. Follow the signs. A volunteer will help you find a parking space. They will also point you to a shuttle stop where you can ride directly to the front entrance gates. Don’t forget to note the lot you parked in. When you are ready to return to your vehicle, you will need to get in the correct shuttle bus exit line. Handicapped parking is available at shuttle stop “H”.

           Shuttle buses continuously make their rounds throughout the upper parking lots from 7:30 a.m. until the last passenger has departed the bus. There is no shuttle service for the Gray Lot or for the Pre-Paid Parking Beige Lot.

           No bicycles, segways, or motorized carts are allowed at MerleFest. For safety concerns, only approved festival vehicles are allowed on festival grounds.

           Only certified assistance dogs are allowed with proper credentials. No other pets are allowed at the festival.

           MerleFest is 100% alcohol, tobacco, and drug free; no alcohol or tobacco products are permitted on Wilkes Community College campus during the festival.

           MerleFest vendors offer everything from turkey legs to tofu. You can find a complete list of food vendors and menus on the MerleFest mobile app and in the official program guide. Some vendors do take credit cards. We do have ATM’s on-site if a food vendor requires cash. Also, you can bring your cooler onto festival grounds. All coolers are checked at the main gate as a safety precaution. But remember: MerleFest is alcohol free and we ask that no beverage or food be brought in glass containers.

          You will find water fountains in every campus building. Also, the college student clubs will be selling bottled water for $2.00 at various locations throughout the festival. Proceeds from the sale of bottled water (and other sodas) fund student club events and programming throughout the school year.

            At the R&R tent in the Little Pickers Area, MerleFest offers a private area for nursing mothers, baby-changing stations, small cots for naptime, and specialized port-a-potty’s for small children. We also have a private room located in Hayes Hall (room 316) that is compete with a baby changing, chairs, and outlets for nursing mothers with pumps. Please note – this room does not have a sink or cold storage. 

            Whether you are the youngest member of the family or the oldest, MerleFest will provide a weekend packed with music, moments, and memories that every member of the family can enjoy and cherish for a lifetime. With brightening skies and clear weather forecasted for Saturday and Sunday, MerleFest will be as lively as ever with music from dozens of artists being performed on 13 stages throughout the festival!

            To view more information regarding frequently asked questions about MerleFest, visit https://merlefest.org/arrival-information/arrival-faq/.

            For more information about getting to and arriving at MerleFest, visit https://merlefest.org/arrival-information/.


            The complete list of rules for MerleFest is included in the list below:

What are the Festival Rules?


  1. BEFORE 5 p.m. reserved seats may be used by anyoneuntil the owner returns.
  2. AFTER 5 p.m. reserved seating wristbands must be shown to ushers upon entry to the reserved seating area.
  3. GENERAL ADMISSION SEATING is on a first-come, first-served basis. Chair height should not block visibility of stage for others.

Children 12 and under will be admitted FREE to general admission seating areas (accompanied by a paying adult); however, tickets are required for all seats in the reserved seating area and Midnight Jam. Children 12 and under are allowed front-of-house seating at the Little Picker’s Stage.

Chairs are provided at some of the other stages, or you may bring your own chairs or blankets. Convenient on-site, overnight storage is available at no charge. ALL CHAIRS/BLANKETS MUST BE REMOVED DAILY.  Items left are taken to Lost & Found.

  • Personal tents or canopies cannot be set-up on festival grounds, except in designated camping areas. Only tents installed by the festival tent supplier will be allowed.  Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by Festival Management.  Small infant dome tents are allowed provided they do not obstruct the view of others.
  • Large umbrellas including beach or patio umbrellas are not allowed. Normal size golf umbrellas and small personal umbrellas are allowed as long as they do not obstruct the view of others or dump water onto a neighbor during a rain event.
  • Folding chairs are allowed at the festival at all outdoor stages provided they do not obstruct the view of others. Tall canopy chairs do not meet these requirements and will not be allowed.
  • Personal grills, charcoal or gas, are not allowed on festival grounds at any time, except in designated camping areas. Only approved food vendors are allowed to operate grills.

Persons with Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities. Requests for special accommodations should be made as soon as possible, but not less than two weeks in advance, by calling (336) 838-6260 or 1-800-343-7857.

Festival is rain or shine.

***** No alcohol/drugs, tobacco products, firearms, pets/animals (unless certified as medically necessary), unauthorized video or audio recording, glass containers, tents/umbrellas/canopies/hammocks, drones, segways or hover boards in concert areas. All coolers/backpacks will be checked.*****