Wilkes Community College (WCC) announced that Wes Whitson has been named as the new MerleFest festival director. Ted Hagaman, who has served as festival director for the last 15 years, has announced his plans to retire in the fall of 2022.

Whitson joined WCC in 2017 and has served as the Operations Manager for the past 5 years. After graduating from West Charlotte High School in 1995 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Parks and Recreation Management from Western Carolina University. Prior to joining WCC, Whitson worked in banking and real estate, and most recently in hospitality and resort rental management. Whitson’s experiences with hospitality and event management provided the opportunity to share the beauty of the mountains in Western Wilkes County with folks from all across the country. If asked he will tell you that nothing brings him more joy than sharing such things with others.

“I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to serve WCC and our community through MerleFest,” stated Whitson. “Having the opportunity to work with such an amazing organization over the past five years has been inspiring to say the least. I’m still taken back each and every day as I discover new ways in which MerleFest and Wilkes Community College make a difference in our region for those who need it the most. It’s an honor to contribute to that effort and I look forward to building on the great tradition of giving back that MerleFest has established over the past 33 years.”

Of his retirement, Hagaman states, “After serving 15 years as Festival Director at MerleFest and 21 years as Executive Director of Events and Hospitality at Wilkes Community College, I feel it is the right time to start planning for retirement. My wife and I would like to travel and spend more time with family. I plan to work one more year at the college and retire in the fall of 2022.

Hagaman added, “We chose to promote Wes into the director’s chair now so I can spend the next year working as a mentor to him and a new events operations specialist. There is a lot to learn, and this will provide both of them with the support necessary to ensure a smooth transition. Wes is a people person and a man of high character and integrity. He has been very involved in MerleFest for the past 5 years, and I am confident he will do an outstanding job leading the festival. I feel very good about the future of MerleFest and the wonderful team we have assembled to carry it forward.”

Wilkes Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a public, two-year, open-door institution serving the people of Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany counties and beyond. Established in 1965, WCC continues to build on a strong history of meeting the educational needs and cultural interests of our students, community, and workforce. WCC prepares learners for success in a dynamic world.