And then there is the music, which permeates the region partly through a wide array of festivals. It all begins the final week of April with MerleFest, which focuses on traditional – or “roots” – music. Founded in 1988 as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College, MerleFest is now a four-day event that brings in approximately 75,000 people and produces a regional economic impact of $10 million.
After that, the music rarely stops. Toe-tapping tunes can be enjoyed throughout the spring and summer at both Concerts on the Deck at Yadkin Valley Marketplace, and the new Concerts in the Commons at the Wilkesboro Open Air Market. Christian music takes center stage during FaithFest in August, followed in September by both the Carolina Jam and Carolina in the Fall. It all culminates the first weekend of October with the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival, an arts-and-crafts fair that regularly attracts crowds of more than 100,000 attendees.
“There are festivals and concerts offered throughout the year in Wilkes County,” Wilkes Chamber of Commerce president Linda Cheek says. “And not only are there are so many things for people to enjoy, but it’s the variety and consistency that makes it special.”