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Gold Rush attracts 100K for weekend of entertainment

Event marks discovery of gold in Dahlonega

POSTED: October 16, 2011 11:36 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/

Artist James E. Stanley works on a piece in his booth in Hancock Park during the annual Gold Rush Days fall festival in Dahlonega Sunday morning.

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Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Days celebrated its 55th year with talented artists and vendors lining the streets and enticing the crowd into their booths.

More than 100,000 people crowded into the event over the weekend, enjoying the varied entertainment, handmade goodies and food.

One of the largest festivals in the southeast, Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Days provides vendors a setting to cultivate new business, whether the artists are just starting or have been attending for years

The event’s theme comes from how gold was first discovered in Dahlonega in 1828.

For Jean-Marie Buxton of Daisycakes Soap, LLC, Gold Rush is a 13- year tradition.

She founded Daisycakes Soap in 1999 and hasn’t looked back since. Based in Athens, Buxton faced the challenges of breaking into the handmade soaps market with 40 other vendors in her area.

“It was very successful, but took a big hit, and when the economy crashed it took a bigger hit. But in the last year it’s bounced back so hard. It’s great,” Buxton said.

Festivals like Gold Rush Days provide necessary exposure for independent companies and help vendors attract and interact with clients and potential buyers.

Lori Bean is a baker-turned-jam-maker who prides herself on her homemade creations, made from locally grown and hand-picked fruits.

“I think it’s a lost art. It’s something that’s been in my heart for a long time,” Bean said.

 “I was a little weary about doing such a large festival. It’s a big investment for such a small business, but the return is worth it.”

In addition to the gourmet jams and decadent soaps, several vendors displayed unique and unusual artwork, including Tom Shumaker, whose barbed wire works added a little edge to the collective displays.

“I wanted a hobby. I don’t crochet, I don’t knit, I do stuff with barbed wire. It’s something different. It’s something nobody else does,” Shumaker said.

Gold Rush Days isn’t just for vendors and artists. The Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society also had a fundraising booth set up on the strip where it collected money to keep the shelter running and hold adoptions.

The weekend held the record for pet adoptions with at least 14 animals finding new homes.

All proceeds from Gold Rush vendor booth rentals go to the Dahlonega Jaycees, with all money staying in Lumpkin County to help fund future events, including their Empty Stocking Fund, providing Christmas help to those in need.

Gold Rush Days takes place every third weekend in October at  Dahlonega’s public square and historic district.

For more information, contact the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Visitors Center, 13 South Park St., Dahlonega, or visit www.dahlonega.org.



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