Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Beech Mountain slopes open for season this weekend on 'White Friday'

A weather system dropping snow in Western Carolina on Wednesday afternoon -- and tapering off Thanksgiving Day -- will add more than half a foot to the snow cover on Beech Mountain, north of Banner Elk.

Combined with human-made snow, it's enough to begin the winter season at Beech Mountain Resort on Friday. Operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The ski resort is off N.C. 184. Improvements there this 47th season include a "magic carpet" conveyer lift added to the beginner slope and an upgrade of snowmaking capacity, with seven new high-tech snow guns. Also, the View Haus cafeteria has been remodeled and there's new rental ski equipment.

The  Burton Learn-to-Ride Center for snowboarders debuts in early December in the ski village at the base of the slopes.

The photo by James Foley at the top of this post shows the top of Beech Mountain.

Resort details:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Driving in winter weather? Follow these tips

Hitting the road for Thanksgiving, Christmas ‑- or any other time between now and spring? Be careful out there: Weather and road conditions, coupled with being in an unfamiliar area, can combine to make  for a dangerous situation.

Hertz and AAA offer these safe-driving tips for winter drivers.

Watch weather reports for your route and destination in advance.  Delay a trip when especially bad weather is expected.

Plan your route in advance, especially when bad weather is expected.

If you're renting a vehicle, get one with a GPS system. And if you'll be driving in an area where snow can be a problem, think about getting a vehicle with extra weight, like an SUV of minivan. Renting a car with four-wheel drive could also prove advantageous on  snowy and icy roads.

Check your windshield wipers before going anywhere. Make sure they function properly and that the wipers and windshield are clean. And make sure you have an ice scraper.

Allow for time when you're on snow or ice. Drive slowly, to maintain vehicle control when accelerating, stopping or turning. Also when driving under these conditions,
maintain your speed when ascending a hill; don't accelerate -- that can be hazardous.

Do not use cruise control. You can instead instantly and easily decrease speed just by  taking your foot off the accelerator.  This, in turn, transfers weight to the front tires, giving them more traction.

Also, braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further ahead, so plan as early as possible and always look 20 to 30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to make sure you have time and space to stop safely.

Along those lines: The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds.

Have warm jackets, gloves and hats inside your car. Just in case.

If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. The car provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.

Don't try to walk in a severe storm, like the stranded traveler in the photo at the top of this post.. It was taken in Amarillo, Texas, during a February 2013 blizzard. (AP Photo/The Amarillo Globe News)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brookgreen Gardens rolls out holiday illumination Dec. 4

Brookgreen Gardens, just south of Myrtle Beach in Pawleys Island, S.C., is about to launch its annual "Night of a Thousand Candles" holiday presentation.

It's Dec. 4-6, 11-13 and 18-20, and is staged from 3 to 10 p.m. so visitors can better enjoy the outdoor illuminations, both candles (more than 5,500)  and displays.

New this year: an 80-foot holiday fir decorated with 60,000 lights; the switch is ceremonially flipped at 5:45 p.m.

More new highlights? The Peppermint Forest in the Children's Garden, the Ice Garden in the Lower Left Wing Garden.

Admission is $18, $10 for children; 3 and younger, free. Tickets are available at, at the gardens, and by phone at 843-235-6016. All entertainment is included in admission; dinner there is available at an additional cost. 

Also new this year: a free mobile app that has performance details and info on food and beverage locations, a map for the event and more. Get it by searching Brookgreen Gardens in the App Store and in Google Play.

The event will draw crowds, and the staff there offers these suggestions:

* Carpool with family and friends. This makes for easier parking.

* Consider checking out the event on a Thursday evening ‑- Brookgreen Gardens will be less crowded.

* Arrive early between 4 and 5 p.m. so you can see the candles being lit. Dusk is also the best time to take photos. Also, a limited number of adult and child strollers are available at no charge on a first-come basis. Reservations for them are not taken, so get there early if you need one.

* Dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. "Night of a Thousand Candles" is a walk- not a drive-through.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

24 properties nationwide awarded Historic Hotels designation

A total of 24 hotels  were designated this week as Historic Hotels of America. This program of the National Trust for Preservation recognizes and celebrates hotels that are at least 50 years old, have historic significance, and have been designated as a National Historic Landmark or are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
 were designated this week as Historic Hotels of

There are now more than 260 properties on the list.

There are no inductees this year from the Carolinas, but the two-state area already has honorees on the list.

In North Carolina they include:  Haywood Park Hotel, Asheville; The Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville; Green Park Inn, Blowing Rock; The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill; The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte; Old Edwards Inn and Spa, Highlands; The Mast Farm Inn, Valle Crucis; and  Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst.

In South Carolina, they include: Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston; Kings Courtyard Inn & John Rutledge House Inn, Charleston; Wentworth Mansion, Charleston; and The Westin Poinsett, Greenville.

New to the list: Le Meridian, Tampa, Fla.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, Honolulu
The Drake Hotel, Chicago
Hilton Chicago, Chicago
Hilton Orrington/Evanston, Evanston, Ill.
Seelbach Hilton, Louisville, Ky.
Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, Baton Rouge, La.
Hilton New Orleans/St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans
Southern Hotel, Covington, La.
The Westin Portland Harborview, Portland, Maine
Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall, Boston
Hilton President Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.
Hilton St. Louis Downtown at the Arch, St. Louis
Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza, Santa Fe, N.M.
Hilton Manhattan East, New York City
Chateau at the Oregon Caves National Monument, Cave Junction, Ore.
Abraham Lincoln Reading Hotel , Reading, Pa.
Caribe Hilton San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Condado Plaza Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Hilton Fort Worth (1921) Fort Worth, Texas
Airlie, Warrenton, Va.
Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
The Edgewater, Madison, Wis.

The oldest inductee?

Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza -- built in 1625. It was originally a colonial hacienda. The photo at the top of this post shows its lobby.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Try Norfolk, Va., for holiday fun

Norfolk, Va., is a gem of a town worth visiting most any time of the year. If you're heading north a state or two between now and Christmas, be aware of what's going on in Norfolk. Highlights include:

MacArthur Winter Extravaganza, through Dec. 24 at Norfolk’s MacArthur Center -- a large shopping mall right downtown. The Ice Palace -- a  30-foot globe encircled with majestic arches, the ethereal palace appears to be carved from ice -- is where you'll find a photo-friendly Santa. You can also enjoy a 7,200-square-foot outdoor ice rink offering  public skating sessions, ice hockey clinics and figure skating exhibitions (Nov. 22 – Jan. 19). The  MaAarthur Winter Carnival features classic amusement rides, like a ferris wheel and spinning tea cups.

Downtown Norfolk this year debuts its first Dickens’ Christmas Towne holiday celebration. The semblance of Victorian London involves carolers and merchants in period costumes, as well as a Victorian Father Christmas and a holiday train display. Dates: Nov. 21 – Dec. 14 and Dec. 17 – 28.

The Grand Illumination Parade the night of  Nov. 22 marks the 30th year of the skyline being officially lit for the holidays. (The photo at the top of this post shows a float from that parade.)

The Norfolk Botanical Garden id dressed for the season for its 19th annual Dominion Garden of Lights. Nov. 27-Dec. 31, 5:30  to  10 p.m., drive the 2-mile through a display of a million twinkling lights.

 The first-ever BlueMoon Harbor Lights Half Marathon and 5K will be Nov. 21-23. The three-day event begins with a Sports & Fitness Expo followed by two runs that go through the scenic, historic downtown area and along the Hampton Roads Harbor. Adult participants can attend a post-race party with complimentary live music, food and beer.

Need another run? The Tacky Sweater 5K, staged the morning of Dec. 13, is a chance to show off over-the-top holiday-themed outerwear. Besides both races, the fundraiser offers s a tacky sweater competition.

 Details on visiting the Norfolk area:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Renting a vacation car at an airport? Check these rankings and stats

Plan to rent a car on your next vacation? Read this before you make your reservation.

The research firm  J.D. Power just released its annual study of rental-car satisfaction. The study -- now in its 19th year -- is based on more than 12,000 evaluations by business and leisure trvelers who rented vehicles at airport locations between August 2013 and August 2014.

The rankings are based on six factors. Those factors, in descending order of importance: cost and fees, pickup process, return process, the rental car itself, shuttle bus/van, and reservation process.

Here are the overall results of the  2014 North American Rental Car Satisfaction Study


The results were scored on a points basis. Of a possible 1,000 points, Enterprise scored 805;  Dollar scored 725.

The list is identical to the J.D. Power 2013 rankings, except last year National came in first and Enterprise second.

Some findings of note from the 2014 study:

Overall satisfaction is highest among Gen Y vehicle-renters (born between 1977 and 1994)  in both business and leisure categories.

Among all business customers, 15 percent make their choice on price alone ‑- and 10 percent report they don't consider price at all.

Satisfaction is higher among both business and leisure customers who chose their brand based on features and benefits, as opposed to those why are "price buyers."

The study reports that the price of a rental car has increased, on average, $5 per day since the previous year's survey.

Also, wait times are longer for all aspects of the rental process. Average wait time for the vehicle pickup and return process: 43.4 minutes.

Those surveyed reported that getting a smile from the rental agent makes the wait seem shorter... and that, on average,  customers greeted by a smiling agent indeed waited for a shorter car-pickup period (16.8 minutes) than those who dealt with Mr. or Ms. Grumpy (25.7 minutes).

(Note: The Los Angeles Times photo at the top of this blog shows rental counters at the airport in Burbank, Calif. It's hard to tell if the rental agents are smiling... but they are working at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Carolina Opry adds new show to MB lineup

The Carolina Opry -- the long-established live entertainment venue in Myrtle Beach -- is adjusting its lineup to add "Thunder & Light," a show that combines choreography from the  All That! clogging group, contemporary music and a multi-colored light show.

It will be worked into the schedule that will continue the traditional " Carolina Opry" show as well as the "Good Vibrations" show. In fact, vocalists from both established shows will be making guest appearances at "T&L" performances.

A release from Gilmore Entertainment, the venue-operator, said the show, directed by Jeff Gilmore, had a successful preview run this fall.

The calendar for TCO lists "T&L" shows at 4 p.m. Nov. 29 (a Saturday) and Dec. 31 (a Wednesday). January shows -‑ all at 7 p.m. -- are scheduled for the 17th and 18th (a Saturday-Sunday) and the 24th (a Saturday); February shows ‑ both at 7 p.m., are set for the 5th and 12th.

 The new show then fills more slots -- 4 p.m. every Thursday -- in March and April.

The  venue is at 8901 North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach.

Initially at least, "Thunder & Light" has a lower price than "Opry," "Vibrations" or TCO's seasonal "Christmas Special."

Online tickets are $32.51; $20.42 for ages 3-16.

Monday, November 10, 2014

War, death, irony and friendship in Lincolnton

Veterans Day -- Tuesday -- is the national holiday to remember veterans and be thankful for their service.

All veterans -- like all humans -- pass away. Some in their old age, some in their youth; some are buried in a marked place, others not.

One fitting place to honor their service is Salisbury National Cemetery -- which began as 18 mass graves for Union soldiers who died at the POW camp there during the Civil War. It has been an active cemetery ever since;  historical markers and rows upon rows of markers are reminders of the duty and sacrifice of those buried there.

At a rest area  on I-85, near Thomasville, the N.C. CarolinaVietnam Veterans' Memorial recognizes the 1,607 killed or missing during the war in Southeast Asia.

For a different experience, visit the historic graveyard at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, in Lincolnton, and look for the marker honoring Stephen Dodson Ramseur, who died 150 years ago last month, at age 27.

The Lincolnton native, born in 1837, was an 1860 graduate of West Point who enlisted in the Confederate army before North Carolina voted to secede. In three years of hard fighting, he was wounded several times and rose through the ranks. In 1862, at age 25 and despite having an arm mangled and paralyzed during that year's Peninsula Campaign in eastern Virginia, Ramseur  became the youngest general at that time in the Confederate army.

Brig. Gen. Ramseur went on to fight at the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and in the May 1864 bloodbath called the Wilderness Campaign. He was promoted to major general and fought at Cold Harbor, Va.

Portraits of  Ramseur increasingly show the conflict taking its toll on his body. (They're at the top of this post.)

He was mortally wounded while on horseback -- shot through the lungs --  rallying his troops, at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Oct. 19, 1864 and died the following day in Union custody.

According to a state biography, Ramseur had learned the day before the battle that his wife, whom he married the year before, had given birth to a daughter.

Another irony: The battle was an impromptu, drawn-weapons reunion of West Point classmates and friends: Confederate Gen. Tom Rosser, U.S. Maj. Wesley Merritt, U.S. Col. Alexander Pennington, U.S. Capt.Henry Du Pont... and U.S. Gen. George Custer.

Custer, who had been the class clown at West Point, went looking for Ramseur's ambulance after the Battle of Cedar Creek, found it, and ordered it  to be sent to the headquarters of victorious U.S. Gen. Phil Sheridan.

Ramseur's West Point pals -- his Union opponents -- were with him when he died; it is said that Custer arranged for Ramseur's body to be shipped home to Lincolnton.

An article at tells of their friendship --  and final parting.

A recent article on tells more of the story of St. Luke's Episcopal, which is at 315 N Cedar St, Lincolnton.

Ramseur's marker is a tall white obelisk.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Charleston's massive display of holiday lights celebrates 25th year

Charleston's holiday season kicks in on Nov. 14 with the opening of the Holiday Festival of Lights, at James Island County Park. It continues through Jan. 1 at the sprawling site, southwest of downtown. And it is sure to draw crowds.

The 3-mile drive-through tour takes you past 2 million lights worked into more than 700 displays -- from the expected Santas and reindeer to dinosaurs, space ships and more.

The event is celebrating its 25th year. Part of the local hoopla is the creation of a new display based on ideas offered by kids. The winner of this year's Light Display Design Contest, submitted by a 9-year-old, is of a seal pup.

The Nov. 14 6:30 p.m. opening is occasioned by live entertainment, various awards and a fireworks display that begins at 9 p.m.

Most stationary events at the festival are staged at Santa's Village. Check the website for special events on other days, like the Nov. 21 outdoor movie (they're screening a holiday-related film).

Hours throughout the run are 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Admission is per vehicle: $15 91-5 guests), $40 (hauling 16-30 guests) and $100 (31 or more guests -- in some kind of super humongous bus, I'd guess).

Sweetening the 25th anniversary pot? One guest each evening of the festival will receive a special gift valued at $25 as they enter the park. Charleston County Parks will also give away a five-night cruise in a no-purchase-required sweepstakes. To enter, go to between now and the end of the year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Most-visited attractions in the world: Which list is more accurate?

Travel + Leisure magazine just issued its list of the 50 "World's Most-Visited Tourist Attractions."

It's a fascinating compilation. And should be taken with a suitcase of salt.

For example, I saw Boston's historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace coming in 7th internationally -- ahead of all the Florida theme parks except for one.

I love Boston and Faneuil Hall. But it's less than 400 square feet in area.

And somehow, the attendance numbers don't need to make sense, though the compilers of the T+L list  say that data is from "attractions themselves or from government agencies, industry reports, and reputable media outlets."

So I found another list ranking the top 50 attractions worldwide  that was posted at It says its information similarly is from "the attractions' own published figures (or internal data they would share), industry reports, government reports and other trustworthy media outlets."

Here -- you compare the lists for yourself. The rankings are in T+L  order; the lovehomeswap rank is in parentheses, to the right.

You'll start to note the differences -- and the gaps.

1. The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey  (11 on list)
2. The  Zócalo, Mexico City (21)
3. Times Square, New York (2)
4. (tie) Central Park, New York, (3)
4. (tie) Union Station, Washington, D.C. (4)             
6. Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas (1)
7.  (tie) Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo   
7. (tie) Sensoji Temple, Tokyo    
9. Niagara Falls (5)
10. Grand Central Terminal, New York (6)
11. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City         
12. Disney World’s Magic KingdomOrlando, Fla. (8)            
13. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston (7)
14. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo (12)
15. Disneyland Park, Anaheim, Calif.  (9)  
16. Forbidden City, Beijing (10)
17. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco
18. Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo (15)
19. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris (13)
20. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco (14)     
21. Balboa Park, San Diego
22. South Street Seaport, New York (29)            
23. San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio
24. Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  (17)         
25. St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
26. Great Wall of China (Badaling/Mutianyu areas), China (28)      
27. Sacré Coeur Basilica, Paris (18)
28. Disneyland ParkMarne-la-Vallée, France (16)
29. Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (22)
30. Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (23)
31. Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, Japan (24)
32. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood, Calif. 
33. Pike Place Market, Seattle (20)     
34. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (25)
35. Musée du Louvre, Paris (27)
36. Navy Pier, Chicago (26)
37. Disney's California Adventure, Anaheim, Calif. (34)
38. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia (31)
39. Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla. (33)     
40. (tie) National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian), Washington,  D.C.   (32)      
40. (tie) Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand
40. (tie) Pier 39, San Francisco  (30)                                
43. Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France (49)           
44. Ocean Park, Hong Kong (35)        
45. Bourbon Street, New Orleans (47)
46. National Museum of China, Beijing
47. (tie) Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong  (41)
47. (tie) Lotte World, Seoul, South Korea (42)             
49. Everland, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea (39)            
50. Taj Mahal, Agra, India  

Did you notice the discrepancies?

And on the list but not the T+L: Tsima Sha Tsui Waterfront in Hong Kong (19);  Victoria Peak, Hong Kong (36); National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian (37); The Eiffel Tower (38), the British Museum in London (40); Nevada's Lake Mead (43); Universal Studios Florida (44); New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (46); Universal Studios Hollywood (48) and Japan's Nagashima Spa Land (5).

Lesson: Lists will only get you so far. The originating data for either list here, for instance, is obviously quite up for grabs.

Both lists, by the way, said Faneuil Hall had 18 million visitors per year. And I'm still skeptical.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10 top holiday destinations? You decide

Retailers' early holiday merchandise has been on shelves for weeks, and travel promoters are now following suit. The Travel Channel has released its list of top 10 holiday attractions of 2014.

Most are too obscure or distant or expensive for the average family, but Manhattan/Brooklyn is a viable option -- and by December, San Diego may be looking more desirable than ever.

Here's their list, in alphabetic order:

Dyker Heights Lights, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Brooklyn neighborhood that appeared in "Saturday Night Fever" sports elaborate light displays, including life-size ice skating figurines and 70-foot toy soldiers that move. Suggested times: 5 to 9 p.m. in mid-December.

12 Pubs of Christmas, Dublin, Ireland
Revelers make their rounds to 12 pubs in the Irish capital and guzzle a pint of a little more than just eggnog at each.

Sponza Palace, Dubrovnik, Croatia
The 1,000-year-old city on the Adriatic Sea  becomes a scene right out of a storybook starting on St. Lucy’s Day (Dec. 13). The Sponza Palace at the edge of Old Town’s walls hosts local artisans, musical performances, a cappella singers and traditional dance.

"George Balanchine’s 'The Nutcracker,' " Manhattan
A holiday traditions in the Big Apple is seeing the New York City perform the ate choreographer George Balanchine's version of "The Nutcracker," at Lincoln Center, from the day after Thanksgiving to Jan. 2.

North Pole, Alaska
This biggest attraction in this  actual hamlet in Alaska  is  Santa Claus House, a Christmas-themed gift shop with tons of ornaments, a 42-foot-tall Santa Claus statue and real reindeer you can visit.

Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany
At the world-famous Christmas market, more than 180 decorated wooden stalls sell decorations and such treats Nuremberg bratwurst, gingerbread and mulled wine. The trademark souvenir: Nuremberg "plum people" ‑- miniature figures made from prunes.

Reykjavik, Iceland (shown at the top of this post... but in a warmer season)
Visit the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjordur or Reykjavik's main Christmas market in Ingólfstorg Square for traditional Nordic holiday gifts, mulled wine and yuletide music. Don’t miss the northern lights that illuminate the sky this time of year.

Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi, Finland
Rovaniemi, is a popular place in December where you can meet Santa Claus in his office, visit his post office and take a sleigh ride with traditional Sami reindeer.

Skating by the Sea, San Diego
Ice-skate by the Pacific Ocean at  on the lawn rink of San Diego’s landmark Hotel del Coronado. Skating sessions are offered daily from Thanksgiving through Jan. 4San Diego’s mild weather makes it easy for families to pair holiday festivities with the area’s kid-friendly attractions and activities.

Santa Claus, Ind.
The town's family-owned  amusement park, Holiday World, gets more than one million patrons annually and boasts three impressive wooden roller coasters.

Monday, November 3, 2014

MerleFest 2015 tickets go on sale Nov. 11

MerleFest -- one of the top annual  music festivals in the country -- has announced its 2015 dates, dozens of confirmed appearances, and that tickets will go on sale Nov. 11.

The event, held at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, will be April 23-26. The four-day showcase of Americana music was started by legendary area native Doc Watson, to honor the memory and musical prowess of his son, Merle.

Sale of tickets begins Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.; they can be purchased online ( or by phone (800-343-7857).

Initial early-bird tickets will be available through Feb. 15. Four-day reserved seating is $220 and $245; four-day general admission is $150. Per-day general admission for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: $40, $55, $60 and $45, respectively.

A second early-bird round -- with higher prices -- will be Feb. 16 through April 22. After that, the still-higher gate price will be in effect.

In all cases, four-day ticket passes are required to qualify for add-on parking and RV options.

Roughly 90 performers were  announced Monday.

The 13 stages at the festival feature a wide variety of "roots music," from traditional bluegrass and folk to styles tinged with Celtic (Scythian) and  rockabilly (Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys). Top North Carolina-based acts announced Monday include Chatham County Line and the Kruger Brothers.

Among the headliners:

The Marshall Tucker Band, the pioneering Southern-rock stars known for such hit singles as “Can’t You See,” “Heard It in a Love Song” and “Fire on the Mountain.” 2015 will be their first MerleFest performance.

Bela Fleck and  his wife Abigail Washburn, shown above,  are internationally acclaimed banjo players. The genre-stretching Fleck is the winner of numerous Grammy awards.

Hot Rize, a bluegrass outfit of considerable note, recently released its first new album in 24 hears. Their lineup includes original members Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick and Nick Forster, as well as Grammy-winning guitarist Bryan Sutton. They will be joined by Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.

Del McCoury, a bluegrass legend, Grammy winner and  recent Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

The Gibson Brothers, two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainer of the Year winners.

More performers will be announced.

Names, bios and MerleFest performance days of acts already scheduled can be found at