North Wilkesboro Rotary Club
The MerleFest Mall is year-after-year one of the most popular gathering spots during the festival. Sure, it's a great meeting place that is always obvious ("Meet me in front of the MerleFest Mall at noon"), and is most packed during afternoon thunderstorms; but at all hours of the day or night people are purchasing CD's, t-shirts, videos, and other items provided by the entertainers/artists. The North Wilkesboro Rotary Club has managed the mall since 1998 led by David Bauguess and Skipper Soloman, co-managers.
The Rotary Club donates all of the funds they earn from the festival to local non-profit organizations such as the YMCA and United Way, as well as providing needed medical expenses for school children. David comments that the club's participation in MerleFest not only allows them to contribute monies to fulfill needs of Wilkes County citizens, but it is also a great opportunity for members to know each other on a personal basis. "We often meet Rotarians from other cities who then volunteer to work with us—often resulting in joint projects with other Rotary Clubs," he says.
The MerleFest Mall is a wonderful place to buy a little piece of the festival to carry you through until the next year. (Can't you just feel the cool spring air and see the green hills of Wilkes County every time you listen to that Doc Watson CD?) It also is a place where shopping is actually benefiting many people through the efforts of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club.