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MerleFest Reflections 1997


Béla Fleck & The Flecktones

In 1997, the 10th edition of MerleFest featured the new Americana Stage, which brought the number of venues up to 11. Despite freezing temperatures Friday night and steady rain on Sunday, paid attendance of 26,853 was up 18.5 percent over 1996’s total of 22,650. Overall participation was 45,122, including 2,100 volunteers and 10,000 public school students who saw entertainers at their schools on Thursday and Friday through the Outreach Program. Some 40 area nonprofit organizations netted more than a quarter of a million dollars through their involvement in the tenth festival. Over the first 10 years, the proceeds from MerleFest funded $238,135 in scholarships and permitted the college to make $1,104,233 in capital improvements.

In addition to artists like the Dixie Chicks, EmmyLou Harris, Arlo Guthrie, Alison Krauss, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and Ricky Skaggs, MerleFest 1997 celebrated the diversity that it is known for by showcasing the “Afro-Celtic” sounds of the Laura Love Band, the Scottish folk music of the Rankin Family and Natalie MacMaster, and the Cajun sounds of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, and the traditional sound of The Kruger Brothers.

Dixie Chicks