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WILKESBORO — MerleFest officials and organizers announced in a statement released on Friday, March 13, that the 2020 festival has been canceled. The event was formerly scheduled to take place April 23-26 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro.

The announcement was made on the MerleFest website at www.merlefest.org/merlefest-2020-cancelled and also via live stream on the festival's Facebook page. The decision was made in collaboration with officials from the town of Wilkesboro.

According to the statement, “Wilkes County officials have canceled all mass gatherings of more than 100 people in Wilkes County through the end of April. Therefore, MerleFest 2020 has been canceled. While this decision is disappointing for all of us, we fully support the directive from our county officials. The health, safety and wellbeing of all involved with MerleFest is, and always will be, our primary concern.”

Patrons who have already purchased their MerleFest 2020 tickets may convert their ticket purchase into a donation to WCC “to help sustain the mission of MerleFest and its impact on WCC students.” They may also retain the ticket for next year’s festival or request a refund, according to the festival’s announcement.

"As you all know, MerleFest serves as the largest fundraising event in support of the students of Wilkes Community College," the festival, which typically draws upwards of 70,000 to 80,000 attendees each year, said in its statement. "The WCC Foundation, which plans and manages the festival each year, has already incurred significant costs in the lead up to MerleFest 2020.

"We need your help," the festival said. "We are calling on all our loyal MerleFest fans and supporters to help alleviate the financial burden this puts on the college in this unprecedented moment of crisis. Please consider converting your festival purchase this year to a 100 percent tax-deductible donation. This will help sustain the mission of MerleFest and its impact on WCC students."

Musical talent that was scheduled for the festival includes Willie Nelson, who was set to attend the event for the first time in 20 years, Alison Krauss, Mavis Staples, Melissa Etheridge, John Prine, Billy Strings and other local and national bands.

Additional information can be found at www.merlefest.org/merlefest-2020-cancelled/ or by contacting WCC organizers at merlefest@wilkescc.edu or by phone at (800) 343-7857.

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