In 1988, MerleFest began as a one-night benefit concert to raise funds for the Wilkes Community College campus gardens. That night drew larger crowds and was quite a bit more popular than expected; so much so that the festival has become a major 4-day event. While MerleFest’s core mission is to honor the memory of Merle Watson (Doc’s son), it’s also the primary fundraiser for WCC.
The ’88 event featured Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins, Mike Cross, New Grass Revival, John Hartford, Mark O’Connor to name just a few.
Cut to the economic climate in 2010. No effect! Over 79,000 fans from 48 states and 10 foreign countries brought in $10.2 million! Last year’s 25th anniversary brought fans in from all 50 states and 15 foreign countries. Sadly, Doc’s 2012 performance was his last.
Here are a few of 2013’s musicians: