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Bear on the Square set for April 16-17
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Jim White takes a seat out of the rain Sunday morning in Dahlonega as he listens to the Bear on the Square music festival’s Sunday morning gospel jam in the main stage tent.

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival

When: April 16-17

Where: downtown Dahlonega

Cost: Free

More info: www.bearonthesquare.org

One weekend in April, Dahlonega is swarmed with visitors seeking bluegrass music, Appalachian art and crafted folklore.

The Bear on the Square Mountain Festival will return to downtown April 16-17 for its 20th year.

The festival takes places around the town’s Historic Public Square and includes a live and silent auction night Friday, April 15, with dinner and music. Saturday and Sunday offer free admission to a juried art market, storytelling and music workshops and demonstrations, a variety of food and MainStage performances from local and national musicians.

“It’s not just one thing; it’s so many things,” said Margo Booth with the event committee. “Whether you want to go to a workshop on harmony singing or old-time banjo playing, or go shopping, or just stop and listen to some live music, there are so many things there.”

About 13 musicians or bands will perform throughout the weekend, and an open mic booth will be available for guests.

“A lot of the people on the stage have been there before,” Booth said. “And some of them are people who came early in their careers and have really gone on to big things.”

Booth said this includes the two headliners: the Becky Buller Band and Chris Jones & the Night Drivers.

Several special events have also been planned for the 20th anniversary of the festival.

“We’ve had an online campaign going,” Booth said. “We have several students from (University of North Georgia) who are working with us, and they have done a neat thing, having our 20th anniversary bear on his way to the festival. So they’ve filmed him at different places along the road coming into town on Twitter and Facebook.”

Special 20th anniversary artwork was created and is available in a wood-block print, Booth said. Two sponsors who have supported the event since the beginning and the committee that organized the first festival in 1996 will be recognized as well.

Booth said the event is great for families and people of all ages. Home Depot will have crafts for kids. Face painting will be offered in Hancock Park, adjacent to the square. Children also can pan for gold with the Weekend Gold Miners on East Main Street.

In particular, the Holly Theater on West Main Street will have four showings of a play called “Goldilocks and the Three Bears on the Square,” originally written for the first festival.

“It’s been shown many times over the years, but not every year,” Booth said. “This year, it’s going to be done at the Holly, and they’re trying to bring back some of the people that were in it early on. So it’s going to be kind of a commemorative performance.”

Booth said she encourages anyone to attend Bear on the Square because it’s “two and a half days of great fun.”

“When you walk around Bear on the Square and look around, you don’t see kids that are whining and husbands that are bored,” she said. “Everyone is having a wonderful time.”

For more information, visit www.bearonthesquare.org.

Regional events