Food & Drink

Fiddle Dee Eat at MerleFest

(Last Updated On: April 26, 2017)
Photo by William Sparklin

Photo by William Sparklin

Kristi Maier | @triadfoodies

I can bring food into a conversation any ol’ time. I can even do it when we start talking MerleFest. The annual festival that celebrates American and Bluegrass music takes the stage this Thursday through Sunday featuring what might be one of the most amazing lineups in recent memory…The Avett Brothers, Jim Avett, Zac Brown Band, James Taylor, just to name a few along with tried and true performers making their return to the stage in Wilkesboro.

MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and to celebrate ‘traditional plus’ music. That’s music that the Appalachian region is known for, plus anything else an artist cares to play. The thing that you can guarantee with MerleFest is that no two acts will be alike. It’s one of the premier music festivals in the country, and “serves as an annual homecoming for musicians and music fans.”

As MerleFest banjos and fiddles its way into our area this week, the artists and festival-goers need to keep their energy up from all that singing and dancing and shopping, among other activities. And that means finding a satisfying meal. There are various tents all across the festival footprint. Food tents are mostly operated by community members and benefit community and campus non-profit organizations.

Photo by Jim Gavenus

Photo by Jim Gavenus

Public Relations Officer Amber Herman says that in addition to a fundraiser for WCC, MerleFest serves as a fundraiser for the non-profit organizations providing food at the festival. And for some groups it’s their largest fundraiser. “Some festival-goers who’ve long attended the festival head straight to the Food Tent to get whatever has become their favorite.” She says everyone is bound to find something to love. “Many people praise the Boy Scouts’ BBQ chicken, others love the baked goods provided by the WCC Culinary and Baking & Pastry Arts students. Still others want the fish, pintos, smoked turkey legs. And funnel cakes. The choices are unending.”

In the Watson Stage area, you’ll find a plethora of choices in the way of entrees, side dishes, desserts and beverages. And there are other snacks and food options at The Shoppes at MerleFest as well as a smattering of locations on the lower festival grounds like coffee, doughnuts and a creamery. Lowe’s Foods has a “Raised Right Here” tent and features local pimento cheese, hummus and veggies, SausageWorks on a pretzel roll and fruit for $3.00-5.00. Prices in the tents range from $1.00-3.00 for snacks and $7.00-9.00 for entree plates with sides. “It is important for our guests to know that their purchases in the Food Tent benefit the non-profit, community and educational groups who work hard to prepare the sweet and savory selections,” Herman says. “In fact, for many of these groups, MerleFest is their largest fundraiser of the year.”

Photo by Sara Brennan

Photo by Sara Brennan

There really is just no shortage of eats to enjoy while you’re taking in some of the best in Americana and Blue Grass. Singer Jim Avett says he usually eats food provided by other artists and patrons, but he does have a favorite. “When I do eat, I like the turkey legs… so good with corn on the cob.”

Look for the foodies to bring you some live updates from the festival this week, beginning Thursday and through the earlier concerts on Sunday. Who knows who we’ll see. We’ll definitely be speaking to artists from the festival and show you the eats along the way.

Organizers provided us with a list of vendors and their locations at MerleFest.


Food Tent 1

Watson Stage Area

WCC Culinary Booth

WCC Culinary Hamburger Booth

WCC Culinary BBQ Booth

Alamance Community College Culinary Booth

Boy Scout Troop #333

Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission (BROC)

Central Wilkes Middle School

Communities in Schools

Fishing Creek Arbor Baptist Church

Hospitality House

North Wilkesboro Kiwanis Club

Vandalia Cheerleaders

Vikings Athletic Club

Wilkes Civitan Club


Food Tent 2

MerleFest Mall Area

Brushy Mountain Smokehouse & Creamery

North Wilkesboro Lions Club

WCC Clubs Drink Booth


Food Tent 3

Shoppes Area

Blue Moose Coffee Lodge

Boomer-Ferguson PTO

North Wilkesboro Elementary School

West Wilkes Athletic Boosters Club, Inc.


Food Tent 4

Thompson Hall Area

Blue Moose Coffee Lodge

Brushy Mountain Smokehouse & Creamery


Food Tent 5

Hayes Hall Area

The Farmer’s Wife

Jason’s Mini Donuts

Lowes Foods “Raised Right Here”

WCC Clubs Drink Booth


Food Tent 6

Little Pickers Family Area

WCC Clubs Drink & Snack Booth


Wanna go? There’s still time! General and reserved seating admission tickets are available in a variety of package levels. Get your tickets and see the schedule at