By Nathan Ham
The 2021 edition of MerleFest will be happening in the fall for the first time with events kicking off on September 16 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in North Wilkesboro.
The festival was canceled all together in 2020 and was pushed back to the fall this year as COVID-19 continues to impact North Carolina and the rest of the country. However, MerleFest fans can expect to start seeing some news and updates from event organizers.
On April 15, the annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest opens and will continue through June 15. Volunteer applications will open on May 1 for those interested in helping out with the event and will end on September 3.
New this year will be a special virtual raffle on May 11 that will benefit scholarship opportunities at Wilkes Community College. Net proceeds from the raffle will directly support the Presidential Scholarship and the WCC SAGE Fellows program. The Mega Raffle includes over $127,000 in cash and prizes with drawings held every two minutes during a virtual drawing on Tuesday, May 11, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., EST. Tickets are $100 each and are now on sale online. A total of 2,500 tickets will be sold. Each ticket purchased entitles the ticketholder to two entries into the drawings. For more information on the benefactors, official contest rules, prize list, or to purchase tickets, visit www.merlefest.org/megaraffle.
June 10 will be the day that MerleFest fans get to see the reveal of the full lineup for the four-day festival. News and updates will be posted online at www.merlefest.org, Facebook, Instagram @merlefest and on Twitter @MerleFest .
MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique 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.