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Don't be square; head for the hills
Bear on the Square festival returns to Dahlonega
Danny Bermel, left, Maggie Mae Robinson, center, and Alex Thomlinson play together on the Square in downtown Dahlonega Saturday during last year's Bear on the Square festival. - photo by Tom Reed

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival

When: April 20-22

Where: Downtown Dahlonega

How much: Free to attend

More info:,


The hills of the north Georgia mountains will come alive this weekend with the sound of music as Dahlonega hosts the 16th annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival.

A weekend full of music, folk dancers, a live auction, a juried artists’ market, and a teddy bear picnic make this spring event a favorite every year.

More than 50,000 people are expected to gather in Dahlonega to see a variety of local and national musicians, performers and artists in the historic square and the adjacent Hancock Park.

Prefestival events will begin Friday, when bluegrass musicians take to the streets for an afternoon jam session on the square. Visitors are encouraged to bring their instruments and join the fun.

Three-hour long Master Class Workshops with top bluegrass and old time musicians and instructors, will take place that afternoon.

The live country auction, which will feature works by area folk artist Billy Roper, along with works by other local artists, will begins at 7 p.m. Friday. Visitors will be able to place bids from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the silent auction.

On Saturday and Sunday, the MainStage tent in Hancock Park will be the center of attention.

BlueBilly Grit will be the first performer at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by Buzzard Mountain Boys and Barefoot Creek, John Lilly, Gold Rush with Neel Pender, John Grimm and Beverly Smith, The Georgia Crackers, and Whitepath.

There will be a full day of performances Sunday, so visitors are encouraged to stay the weekend. The Gospel Jam, led by Glenda Pender, will begin at 11 a.m., followed by performances from Georgia Pick and Bow Recital, the Rosin Sisters with Whit Connah and George Norman, Curtis Jones with Insonnia, Curley Maple and the Packway Handle Band.

Tickets to the main stage events will be free for everyone.

The Bear on the Square Artist Marketplace, held Saturday and Sunday, will feature one-of-a-kind handmade art and crafts.

Held around the square in Dahlonega, it will continue its tradition of presenting art from an impressive group of top local and visiting artists. Festivalgoers will be able to browse items from nearly 30 of the mountain region’s best artists.

For the third year in a row, the John C. Campbell Folk School will bring its ensemble of traditional craft demonstrators and dance teams to the square.

There will also be free family friendly activities Saturday and Sunday. “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” will be performed at the Holly Theater, and a teddy bear picnic will be held.

And no festival would be complete with out the food. The Bear on the Square food court will be located downtown, and feature a variety of food including barbeque, shaved ice, tacos and sweet treats.

For additional information on the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, including a full listing of times and performances, please visit