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HemlockFest raises awareness with music

POSTED: November 3, 2011 12:30 a.m.
LARRY WINSLETT/For Get Out

Colorful woolly adelgid and predator beetle puppets wait for dance partners at HemlockFest.

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The seventh annual HemlockFest returns to Lumpkin County this weekend as the Lumpkin Coalition seeks to raise awareness of the beauty and fragility of this native arbor.

The yearly benefit is Lumpkin Coalition's fund and awareness raising event in an effort to save the hemlock trees of Northeast Georgia, coalition chairman Forest Hilyer said.

"We just want to get the information out there. You can come and talk to experts and get questions answered," Hilyer said. "It's a way to keep people energized about the issue and actively working on it."

The three-day long festival will be highlighted by a music lineup adorned with many local and regional artists.

Featured bands will include Colonel Bruce Hampton & the Pharaoh Gummitt, Saint Francis, Insonnia, Lefty Williams, Caroline Aiken, The Reese Boyd Project, Steel String Session, Veronika Jackson, Mean Mary, Jason Kenney and David Blackmon and 710 South.

Hilyer said it's still a fairly small festival, attracting around 1,500 people each year.

"With the beautiful fall weather and beautiful fall colors, we're hoping to see a couple thousand people out this weekend," Hilyer said.

This all-age, eco-friendly event features primitive camping, educational exhibits, arts and crafts vendors, a kid's nature village, rustic living demonstrations, food and free canoeing.

Hilyer said one of the coalition's biggest goals is to encourage people to be more mindful of the hemlock trees, both on public and private lands.

According to Hilyer, one of the biggest problems that hemlocks face is the parasitic insect woolly adelgid. The insect lays eggs, which hatch into "crawlers," and the creatures ravage the hemlocks.

Hilyer said that for the people not attending HemlockFest and learning about this invasive insect, he wants them to be mindful of the transferring patterns. The peak time for transfer is between March and June.

"Don't put bird feeders in hemlocks, because the birds will transfer the crawlers. Also, don't wear fleece-type fabric when coming into contact with hemlocks," Hilyer said.

HemlockFest will take place just outside of Dahlonega, at 396 Starbridge Road in Murrayville. A weekend pass is available for $50. Friday only is $15, Saturday is $25 and Sunday is $10.

Festivities begin at 2 p.m. Friday and go through Sunday. Visit the event website at www.hemlockfest.org to purchase tickets and view an itinerary for the individual activities.



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