What's MerleFest like?
Besides offering lots and lots of great music, MerleFest has the best family-friendly atmosphere you could imagine. It starts with your arrival at the main gate on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC. Fans arrive by shuttle bus, bicycle, or on foot, and are often met by a bluegrass band playing outside the gate. (All parking is at remote lots, with Boy Scout troops and others providing frequent shuttle service for donations.) After a quick screening to ensure that no contraband makes it into the festival grounds, you walk out into the campus. To your right is the Dance Tent and in front of you are the Shoppes at MerleFest. More performance venues spread in all directions with enough space between to keep the music from overlapping.
Pick up a copy of the MerleFest program and check out the map and the stage schedule (if you haven't already). Pick a direction - maybe straight ahead.
Jim Lauderdale, WDVX Program DirectorTony Lawson, and Roy Book Binder converse at the WDVX booth at MerleFest 2011.
As you get to the end, check out the sand sculpture. Watch it evolve as the festival progresses.
To your right is the Americana Stage, a more intimate setting than the two largest venues - the Watson Stage and the Hillside Stage. Wander over and sit in the grass. The music will be outstanding, and the audience will be listening. That's one or the wonderful things about MerleFest. The audience would rather listen than talk. They're listening to good music that sounds good. The quality of the sound systems at MerleFest is among the best.
If you chose to go left, you would quickly reach the MerleFest Mall where you can purchase CDs from the artists playing at MerleFest. There are autograph tables near the Mall and schedules of when your favorites will be available.
Beyond the Mall, the area opens into the grounds in front of the Watson Stage. And beyond that is the food court. After a quick bite to eat, look at your schedule again. This is the time when you realize that you want to be at the Hillside Stage - as far away from the food court as possible.
My advice - head for Hillside if you need the exercise or stop at any venue for a performance you will enjoy.