All posts in Festivals

Carolina In The Fall

CITFHeader2logo copy

Heart of Folk’s Carolina in the Fall™ presented by Wilkes Communications, Inc.


Insider’s Guide to Carolina in the Fall™

Hello Festival fans! With Carolina in the Fall being a brand new festival for 2015, getting the inside scoop is all the more important! So, here is what we know today and this Insider will be updated regularly to get the latest info out to you.


The festival is located in the heart of downtown Wilkesboro. Main Street is closed from West Street to East Street. Bridge Street is closed from South Street to North Street and Broad Street is closed from Main Street to North Street. Additionally, North Street is closed form West Street except for residents. Hope that helps!

The Hall of Fame Stage (main stage) is located directly in front of the Heritage Museum (the old Court House). The Hometown Stage is located in the Open Air Market Park.

Food trucks are lined up on Main Street from West Street to Bridge Street. The Beer Garden is located in the Open Air Market Park. Vendors are set up along North Bridge Street and the Kidz Zone is on Broad Street.

Artists Scheduled

This year’s festival will feature some of Bluegrass/Americana/Roots music’s best bands. The Kruger Brothers will serve as the Festival’s host band and will feature prominently throughout. Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Balsam Range, The Secret Sisters are all headliners for 2015.

With over 100 awards, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage is the most award winning band in Bluegrass Music today. Balsam Range is the 2014 IBMA Entertainer and Vocal Band of the Year award winner. The Secret Sisters have been featured on late night television with David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon. They have been busy filming their own PBS special with Elvis Costello and Jakob Dylan, and recorded music for the platinum-selling soundtrack to The Hunger Games.

Other bands scheduled to perform are Mipso, Barefoot Movement (winner of 2015 IBMA Momentum Award), Lindsay Lou and the Flat Bellys, Zoe and Cloyd, the Snyder Family Band, The Hook and Bullet, the Idle Time Band, The Neighbors and Back Porch Bluegrass. Additional bands are to be announced.


The festival begins at 11:00AM each day and concludes at 9:00PM. Gates will open at 10:00AM. Seating is festival style and is first come first serve, so get there early for the best seats! For those that purchased a VIP ticket, The Carolina Jam™ sessions begin at 10:00PM at the Yadkin Valley Event Center at the Holiday Inn Express each evening. These sessions are scheduled for two hours, but you know musicians.


Downtown parking is available at area churches, public lots and private lots. My best advice is to take the Brushy Mountain Rd/ Oakwoods Rd exit off US Hwy 421 or the NC Hwy 268 exit onto Main Street. Each exit will bring you to downtown Wilkesboro. I am sure there will be lots of signage for parking, so pay attention and find the best spot.

What you can bring into the Festival

Like most other festivals… no coolers, no beverages, no drugs, no alcohol, no pets, no blankets. Bring your best folding chair, a jacket or sweater (this is Carolina in the Fall!), comfortable shoes and a camera to capture the memories.


The Carolina in the Fall Food Truck Championship™ will bring the region’s best food trucks to Main Street to serve up some great food to festival goers. There will be something for everyone as the Festival planners are working hard to bring trucks that serve every kind of food the region has to offer. Plan on NC Barbeque for lunch, fish tacos for dinner and some Thai for an evening snack! The next day, some southern fried chicken and turnip greens followed by some Italian creation for dinner. The food will be fun!

Of course, no one will stop you from bringing your own food in! Just remember… no coolers and no beverages can be brought in.


All of your standard beverages will be available at the food trucks. A local coffee shop, Talia Espresso will be set up onsite to give you that shot of caffeine to keep you going all day and evening.

As this region has become home to some of the nation’s best wines and craft beers, an area will be set up to allow our guests to sample the regions offerings. Details are still being worked out, so stay tuned and check back often to get updates.


This is first come, first serve festival seating at each stage. The Main Stage seating is on the lawn of the heritage Museum and in the adjacent streets. The Hometown Stage seating is located on the parking lot of the Open Air Market Park.

The Main Stage seating will fill up fast for the big name artists, so get there early and stake your claim. Regardless of the stage or where you sit, the sound will be amazing and the worst seats at this festival are only 200 feet from the stage!!

Where to stay 

Local hotels are offering festival packages. Local hotel rooms are very limited, so get your room now!! My best advice is to go online to the brand reservation website and give it a try. Camping is a great option and the Town of Wilkesboro is opening up Sewerfest for this event!! This is great news for all of the Merlefest® campers that want to come back in the fall and close out the festival season. To book your camping spot, go to and contact them to reserve a spot! They will begin taking reservations beginning in mid-July.

In Conclusion

The Festival organizers say that Carolina in the Fall ™ is about celebrating the region and the season. It is all about the music we love, the food we crave and the beverages that we share. This festival provides plenty of all three and more!

So what is Carolina in the Fall™?

My take on it is this… two days of Western NC magic that makes the other 363 days seem long. But then again, the wait makes it all the more special. The clock is ticking, the musicians are picking, the food trucks are cooking and the grapes are growing… see you downtown Wilkesboro the last weekend of September!!

Guide to MerleFest

MerleFest Group

It is difficult to put into words what MerleFest is and what the four days around the last weekend in April are all about, but here goes….

This year we get to enjoy again what many people consider to be the best outdoor Bluegrass/ Americana music festival in the world. Held annually on the campus of Wilkes Community College (Harvard on the Yadkin, as the locals call it), the festival that began on the back of a flatbed truck in 1988 has evolved into a campus wide, multi-stage music extravaganza. The festival is held in honor of Merle Watson, the deceased son of Doc Watson who was killed in a farming accident. Merle was a devoted musician who loved to play the guitar with Doc. For more information on Merle and the history of the festival, please visit

Read more below the break!

Light Up Downtown

Chritmas in Wilkes

Annual Light Up Downtown Celebration

Light Up DowntownLight Up Downtown is an annual celebration held in historic Downtown North Wilkesboro to usher in the holiday season. The celebration is kicked off with the lighting ceremony when the B Street Park Christmas Tree is light along with all of the holiday lights that line the town streets. Vendors gather from in and around the county to sell their goods on the streets as store owners stay open late to welcome in the crowds and to show off their holiday window displays. The celebration also features hay rides and dance performances and Santa!


Shopping at the festival…

There are always a few folks offering free snacks and drinks, while supplies lasts, but be sure to bring your wallet and a little cash. You are sure to find great holiday gifts in the shops or in any of the vendor booths. As you shop you may be tempted to buy a few goodies to eat. The smell of funnel cakes and fresh coffee are hard to resists. If you miss the festival don’t worry too much….you can enjoy shopping in Wilkesboro NC at any time of the year.


How to get there and where to park…

The festival is in the heart of Downtown North Wilkesboro and results in the closing of many of the streets, mainly Main St, 9th and 10th. The streets usually aren’t closed until about half an hour to an hour before the festivities. There is plenty of parking close to the festival most of which can be easily reached from the CBD Loop which borders the downtown area.

If you are coming from the east, I would advise you to take the NC Hwy 115 exit and turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into the festival.

If you are coming from the west on US 421, take “421 Business” into the downtown area. This left turn is the next left after the Taco Bell. Business 421 will take you directly into the down town area. If you are tech savvy, just enter North Wilkesboro into whatever device you have and hit the road.


Brushy Mountain Apple Festival


The first Saturday in October brings the masses to North Wilkesboro for the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. They come to town for what has become one of the largest single day arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast US. Over 160,000 people crowd the downtown streets enjoying a day of food, fellowship and downright fun.

How to get to the Apple Festival.

The festival is held on the streets of downtown North Wilkesboro, so regardless of where you are coming from, just follow the signs once you get into Wilkes County. If you are coming from the east, I would advise you to take the NC Hwy 115 exit and turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into the festival.

If you are coming from the west on US 421, take “421 Business” into the downtown area. This left turn is the next left after the Taco Bell. Business 421 will take you directly into the down town area. If you are tech savvy, just enter North Wilkesboro into whatever device you have and hit the road.


Like most large events, parking is the challenge. The downtown area is closed off, so parking has to be in the surrounding areas. Many public and private lots are open for paid parking (the closer the parking, the higher the price). In addition, the Festival provides free shuttle service to and from parking at West Park where there is lots of free parking. Visit and click on the parking link for information on this service.

You will find a place to park, so be patient and decide if you want to walk in from paid parking or ride in from free parking. Also, a word to the wise, the neighbors around the festival are wonderful people, but they draw the line when you park in their yard or driveway, so play nice.

Food and Beverage

The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival is famous for its food selection. My wife always shows up early (7am) and enjoys a country ham biscuit or apple pie. Food is available throughout the festival grounds, so be sure to bring your festival map or pick on up the intersection of Main and 9th and do your food research ahead of time. (Nothing worse than eating something at one location only to realize that you missed out on your favorite just a block away)

Prices are reasonable and the food online casino quality is excellent. The variety is expansive and you will find more that you want to eat than you can eat (very frustrating J). Again, research is the key to finding just what you are craving. My favorites are always the ice cream, the homemade apple pies, awesome Carolina pit cooked bar-be-que, anything with grilled peppers and onions and that really greasy slice of pizza. But whatever your personal tastes are, you will find a place to chow down and enjoy.

An honorable mention here, a local water bottling company sets up a location at the Main and 9th intersection and gives a cold, clear drink of mountain water to every festival goer. Kudos to Brushy Mountain Water and Coffee Company!!

Things to do at the Apple Festival.

Every corner brings a surprise and every street a new series of crafts to enjoy. My favorite times at the festival are watching the artisans at work. Blacksmiths, quilters, potters, wood workers and many others are hard at work and you can quietly watch or ask questions as the work their magic. Where else can you watch cane be turned into molasses or hear southern gospel singers while your child is having their face painted? To say the least, diversity reigns supreme. Take your time, get into the crowd and see what each vendor has to offer.

And don’t forget, this is a celebration of the apple harvest on the Brushy Mountains. The orchards produce some of the best apples in the nation and are available for purchase at the end of almost every street. My favorite apple is the Pink Lady, a wonderful combination of sweet and sour that leaves your mouth watering.

The festival has added a Friday night event known as the “Apple Jam” that is centered on local music. It is held in the Festival Park located on the corner of 10th and Main in downtown North Wilkesboro. The Friday night festivities begin at 6 PM, so come early, bring your chairs and enjoy some beautiful mountain music.


1. The crowds are large, but the people are wonderful. If you are opposed to large crowds, show up early or arrive late and you will miss the biggest crowds.

2. Do your homework ahead of time; this will save you time and lots of walking, nothing worse than backtracking at a street festival.

3. Bring something to carry your awesome purchases in. Backpacks or shoulder bags are excellent choices.

4. If you bring children, allow adequate time for them to have a blast in the children’s area. My kids always loved the sand art and face painting.

5. Wear great walking shoes. You are on streets and sidewalks the entire time and some nicely padded walking shoes will seem worth their weight in gold.

6. Dress in layers. You are in the foothills of North Carolina and as Forrest Gump said… “You never know what you’re going to get”.

7. Get a good night’s sleep the night before and bring a big bag of patience. If you get in a hurry, you will miss something pretty special or you will be very frustrated.

8. Get a bag of apples! This festival is still months away and I am already craving one of those wonderful Brushy Mountain apples.

 Leaving the Apple Festival

Because it is an all day festival, leaving is no big deal. There is no mad rush or clogged highways, so take your time, leave when you want to and enjoy the view as you go. Before you go, be sure to stop by the Festival headquarters at the intersection of 9th and Main and get your free bumper sticker. See you there.

Shine to Wine

Shine to Wine

The Shine to Wine festival gets bigger and better each year.  The festival is held in historic downtown North Wilkesboro.  The festival includes regional wines and beer for the tasting, live music and art. The festival lasts from 12 PM – 6 PM and is free to the public.  However, if you plan on sampling the wines, a wristband must be purchased. (Proof of age is required)

Wilkes County was at one time known as the Moonshine Capital of the World and for good reason. Nowadays, the region is becoming known for it’s variety of wines.  Ideally situated with the right precipitation and temperatures, the Yadkin Valley is a perfect region to grow grapes. (Who knew, right?)  So the name, Shine to Wine is a throw-back to the old days with an eye on the future of the wine industry in our community.

Several of the downtown North Wilkesboro restaurants join in the celebration and offer a “Downtown Wine Dinner”.  Be sure to visit 6th and Main and Branciforte’s. Both of establishments offer special entrees paired with signature wines.  Reservations for this special evening is advised, so call ahead and ask them to save you a seat.  The food is always delicious and the prices are reasonable, so enjoy.

The festival always has a great band to listen to while you sample the wines.  Enjoy the distinctive sounds of some of the regions best bands as you walk the streets of North Wilkesboro.  These groups have always provided a great backdrop to the entire event.  Vendor tent hopping and wine tasting to live tunes played with true talent is a great way to pass a Saturday afternoon.

Should you attend?  If you enjoy friendly people, great music and art and a sip of the fruit of the Yadkin Valley Winegrowers, then this is a festival for you.  Check out their website for all the ins and outs and make your s plans now before all the hotel rooms fill up.  Salute!  (

How to get to the Shine to Wine Festival?

The Shine to Wine Festival is located in Historic Downtown North Wilkesboro.  If you are coming from the east, I would advise taking the NC Hwy 115 exit and then turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into Downtown North Wilkesboro where festival signs and parking will be easily visible.

If you are coming from the west on US 421, take “421 Business” into the downtown area. This left turn is the next left after the Taco Bell. Business 421 will take you directly into the down town area. If you are tech savvy, just enter North Wilkesboro into whatever device you have and hit the road.

View Larger Map