The quality of life in Wilkes County is enhanced by a strong arts presence, with cultural attractions serving as some of the county's prized amenities. Here are some favorites:
Wilkes Art Gallery
Celebrating the arts in Wilkes County since 1962, the Wilkes Art Gallery schedules a number of permanent and rotating exhibits along with classes in painting, sculpture and photography for people of all ages. The North Wilkesboro facility also hosts corporate events, weddings, birthday parties, Wine Nights and do-it-yourself workshops.
Whippoorwill Academy and Village
A piece of Wilkes County history comes alive in Ferguson at Whippoorwill Academy and Village, a historic attraction that includes the restored 1880s Whippoorwill Academy schoolhouse, the restored 1864 Yadkin River Jail, a Chapel of Peace, a Smokehouse art gallery, blacksmith shop, and a replica of a Daniel Boone cabin. Also notable is the Tom Dooley museum, with an exhibit that tells a legendary story of Wilkes County native Tom Dula (Dooley), who was hanged for the murder of his fiancée, Laura Foster.
Bleu Moon and Wilkes Playmakers
Bleu Moon Productions, a Wilkes County theater troupe, takes the story of Tom Dooley to the stage with its annual production of Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend. The play is performed during much of July by a cast of local actors at Forest Edge Amphitheatre in Wilkesboro’s Fort Hamby Park.
Wilkes Playmakers has provided quality community theatre for more than 25 years, with productions staged in North Wilkesboro at Benton Hall. The troupe produces four or five plays each year, with tickets priced very reasonably from $2-$10.
Environmental Education Center
Kids and their families can learn to appreciate art created by Mother Nature at the W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir Environmental Education Center. In a wing of the visitor's center, open to the public, guests can learn about water safety, local ecosystems and indigenous species. A model of a beaver dam shows how the dam-building process creates the wetlands habitat for other animals, and interactive exhibits teach kids about the reservoir’s native plants, animals and the importance of environmental stewardship. Admission is free; the center is open 1-5 p.m. daily April to November and by appointment December through March.