The story of Tom Dooley has long been a familiar folktale in Wilkes County, commemorated in story and song.

And an outdoor production about the story has been drawing audiences in Wilkesboro for close to 20 years now. “Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend” starts its 18th season this Thursday, with nine performances in July each year, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

“In 1999, I was approached by Steve Critz, a board member for Wilkes Playmakers, to write a stage play about the hanging of Tom Dooley,” said playwright Karen Reynolds.

Tom Dooley — actually “Dula,” but the name was misspelled based on the dialect of the time — was a Civil War veteran from Wilkes County who

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