MerleFest 2022 Safety Protocol (as of December 2, 2022)

MerleFest, presented by Window World, is the primary fund raiser for Wilkes Community College which is a member of the North Carolina Community College System. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have been, and will continue, following the state health guidelines as directed by Governor Roy Cooper along with the CDC and state/local health agencies. Our #1 priority has always been to produce a safe and family friendly event, and that certainly is the goal for MerleFest 2023.

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 yourself and others. Masking is currently recommended by the CDC on public transportation and indoors, and in highly concentrated public areas. Be assured that we are in communications weekly with local and state health officials and we will follow the latest directives. 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!

Based on the latest guidance from the CDC and state and local health authorities, the following safety protocol will be in effect for MerleFest 2023.  *All protocol is subject to change.*

  • MerleFest 2023 will be mask optional in general. Masks are recommended when riding on all festival shuttle buses and transportation, and also recommended indoors or in highly concentrated public areas. Masks will be required in the artist secured backstage area and on Artist Transportation.
  • Proof of vaccination/negative COVID-19 tests will not be required for 2023.
  • Buses will be sanitized periodically, and hand sanitizer will be available prior to boarding shuttle buses.
  • Hand sanitizer and hand wash stations will be available in all areas of the festival.
  • All festival staff, volunteers and frontline workers will be required to complete a health attestation form prior to starting their shift each day.
  • An artist area will be established backstage to meet artist contract safety requirements. The artist area will only allow artists, their guests, production, stagehands, and approved staff in designated production areas. All who enter these areas must wear masks at all times, unless performing, and must complete a health attestation form each day prior to entering this area. The hospitality wing and bathroom area of the Watson Stage will not fall under this designation.
  • Children’s crafts will be prepackaged with work areas spaced to enhance distancing
  • All buildings on campus, including the location for the Austin Stage and Walker Center stage have been upgraded with bi-polar ionization air filters.
  • Dining areas, bathrooms, and high touch areas will be continuously cleaned throughout the festival.
  • Gates will open early each day as soon as the shuttle buses run to allow folks to enter the festival and to reduce possible congestion at the entrance
  • A new pedestrian exit has been established to reduce congestion as fans exit each day.
  • 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.
  • Representatives from the Wilkes County Health Department will be on site during the festival to monitor health practices in all areas of the festival.
  • We ask all participants to be considerate of your neighbor and to provide plenty of space while enjoying the festival.

We deeply appreciate your patience and support.  If you have specific questions, feel free to contact the MerleFest box office 800-343-7857 or email us at  We hope to see you at MerleFest 2023, April 27-30.