Today, MerleFest, presented by Window World®, announced its updated safety protocol for this year’s festival, as well as the Band Competition participants.
Safety Protocol: The festival’s top priority has always been and will continue to be to provide a safe and family-friendly environment for musicians and music fans of all ages. MerleFest will continue to follow guidelines for health and safety as directed by Governor Roy Cooper, the CDC, and state and local health officials.
Guidance from the CDC and health experts around the world states that getting vaccinated and staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters is highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death due to COVID-19. MerleFest strongly encourages everyone to vaccinate to protect themselves and others. Masking is currently required by the CDC on public transportation and recommended indoors and in highly concentrated public areas.
2022’s festival will not require a negative test or proof of vaccination to enter however masks will be required on shuttle buses to and from the festival and in the artist-only area. Updated cleaning protocols and handwashing stations will be in place festival-wide, and all buildings have been upgraded with bipolar ionization air filters. Each day festival gates will open earlier to avoid crowding at the main entrance and a pedestrian-only exit has been added for greater social distancing. Children’s craft activities will be pre-packaged and work areas will be preset with social distancing in mind for our littlest festival-goers. Representatives from Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, Wilkes EMS, Wilkesboro Fire Department, and local law enforcement will be on site throughout the festival to handle health and safety needs. Additionally, representatives from the Wilkes County Health Department will be on site during the festival to monitor health practices in all areas. Please visit merlefest.org/safety for a complete listing of the festival’s protocol and the latest updates.
“Be assured that we are in communications weekly with local and state health officials and we will follow the latest directives,” says Festival Director, Wes Whitson. “We ask for your support and compliance to protect your safety and the safety of all participants. Together, WE CAN do this the right way—THE MERLEFEST WAY!” All health and safety policies are subject to change as more science-based information becomes available to health officials.
Band Competition: Since the festival’s inception, MerleFest has fostered and provided opportunities to up-an-coming musicians, songwriters, local and regional artists, and other undiscovered talent from around the country. MerleFest continues that tradition each year by inviting eight groups to not only perform during Saturday’s events but also compete for the chance to perform on the Hillside Stage in front of thousands of festival-goers. This year’s band competition will include The Blue Ridge Girls, The Burnett Sisters Band & Colin Ray, His & Hers, Jack Marion & The Pearl Snap Prophets, Love & Valor, South Hill Banks, Supper Break, and Will Easter performing at MerleFest’s Plaza Stage from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 30th. Judged by members of The Local Boys, a band competition winner will be announced by host Mark Bumgarner at 4:00 p.m. and the lucky group will get a coveted spot on the Hillside Stage’s Sunday lineup at 11 a.m. Read more about this year’s band competition contestants below.
“For some, performing at one of the nation’s largest Americana music festivals is a springboard for their musical careers, while for all the participants it is a once in a lifetime experience,” says Bumgarner. “The level of talent has been incredible and continues to wow the crowds each year.” “Offering insight into some of the most premier up and coming talent across the nation, this competition is sure to impress,” adds judge and The Local Boys band member John Aaron Soots. Not only a fan-favorite event, this annual gathering of next-generation bands is near and dear to MerleFest organizers’ hearts as well. “The band contest is a great opportunity to discover your next favorite up-and-coming band. Every year the talent and quality continue to impress, and audiences get a chance to feel like they’re discovering the next big thing before they hit the Watson Stage,” says MerleFest Artist Relations Manager, Lindsay Craven. “We love getting the local and regional talent on our stages and playing for our audience.”
Tickets for this year’s festival are on sale now and may be purchased at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. Fans are reminded the volunteer application window is now open. Please visit merlefest.org/volunteer to sign up.
Reminders: Andy May’s Acoustic Kids is returning to MerleFest this year. Those who would have been age-eligible for Acoustic Kids at MerleFest 2020—those age 16 or younger on 4/23/2020—will be eligible for this year’s showcases. Participants who registered for 2020 or 2021 will have a spot in the 2022 Acoustic Kids showcase but will need to register for 2022 to update their information. Acoustic Kids registration is open now and runs until March 26th. Registration and more information can be found at this link.
There are only 49 days left to purchase MerleFest Mega Raffle Tickets. The Mega Raffle supports scholarships at Wilkes Community College. The Mega Raffle drawings will be held during the festival on Sunday, May 01, 2022, at the Raffle/Silent Auction Tent from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Over $170,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. Only 5,000 tickets will be sold, and ticket holders do not have to be present to win. Raffle tickets are $100 each and include two entries to the MerleFest Mega Raffle drawings. To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.merlefest.org/megaraffle.