Wilkesboro (North Carolina), USA – Wilkes Community College,
which has produced MerleFest on its campus in Wilkesboro, NC since 1988, today
awarded its first honorary degree ever to iconic roots musician Arthel
“Doc” Watson.” Dr. Gordon G. Burns, president of Wilkes Community College since
1996, presented Watson with an Honorary Associate in Arts degree at the 39th
Commencement of the institution, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.“Doc’s contributions to the college, the community and the region are
incomparable,” said Dr. Burns. “He has drawn positive attention to the region’s
musical heritage and, in so doing, contributed to the economic well-being of the
region.” Dr. Burns noted that MerleFest has contributed more than $90 million to
the regional economy over the past nine years and raised in excess of $5,000,000
for Wilkes Community College.
Watson expressed his gratitude to the college for keeping Merle Watson’s memory
alive and then delighted the commencement audience of some 2000 by flipping the
tassel on his mortarboard to the “graduate” side.
MerleFest celebrates the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc
Watson. Wilkes Community College will present MerleFest 2006 on April 27 – 30,