Merlefest: An Economic Engine for the Foothills - myfoxcarolinas.com

Merlefest: An Economic Engine for the Foothills

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Merlefest started today in Wilkes County. This year, the legendary festival features Alan Jackson, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Old Crow Medicine Show, among countless other performers.

Festival organizers recently started working with Appalachian State University’s College of Business to determine Merlefest's economic impact on the region.

“This has become a major event for Wilkes County, for northwestern North Carolina, because of the impact that it has on our community,” said Ted Hagaman, Merlefest director. “Just this past year in 2013, it had an estimated impact of around $10.7 million to northwestern North Carolina and a little over $5 million to Wilkes County alone.”

With a primary focus on online presales, ticket purchases are tracked by zip code.

“The Charlotte market is huge,” he said. “And, all the metro area is a huge source of our ticket revenue.”

Catawba, Alexander, Caldwell, Iredell and many other surrounding counties benefit from the festival.

Hagaman commented, “We put heads in beds, people are buying gas, people are buying supplies, because we do not have a lot of hotels in Wilkes County.”

Tickets are still available for this year’s Merlefest, which runs through Sunday, April 27. For a complete lineup and additional information, visit merlefest.org.

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