On April 30, we boogied from Lexington, NC (where we’re staying with our friends, Suzy and Kevin) to Wilkesboro, NC – home of the largest bluegrass festival in the world, Merlefest!
Merlefest is a HUGE bluegrass festival begun by Doc Watson about 30 years ago to honor his son, Merle, who tragically passed in a tractor accident.
The event takes place on the grounds of a community college that is perfect with its multiple outdoor spaces for acts big and and small, a dance tent and scads of cool vendors. We haven’t been to many festivals, but this one impressed us right from the start with the efficient parking and shuttle buses – a necessity for bringing in what looked to me like 200,000 people.
The mood here is celebratory. The wide-open grounds are full of frisbee throwers and football tossers, jugglers juggling and people of all ages enjoying not only the music, but the wonderful weather in this western part of the state. “Wholesome” is the word that comes to mind. There’s no alcohol or cigarettes and a big sign says, “No Firearms Allowed.” (Apparently, asking southerners to keep their guns in the cars or at home is a big deal, but I digress.)
Our favorite parts of the day were meeting up with my old buddy, Harding and his girlfriend, Jennifer, and, of course, the music. I’ve put some video links below so that you can get a little flavor of what we experienced.
Check out this bit of The Earls of Leicester singing “Honey Let Me Be Your Salty Dog!”