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Listen to jazz, browse high-quality art, drink wine at this festival next weekend
Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival returns for its fourth year
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Guests wait to hear live jazz music at the Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival in Dahlonega, on Saturday, May 19. Festival director Letty Rayneri believes showcasing jazz music is one of the main reasons the festival is so successful. - photo by Layne Saliba

Something a little different is headed back to the Dahlonega square: jazz music.

Back for its fourth year, the Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival is hoping to draw a different crowd to the mountain town to enjoy fine arts, fine wine and a little jazz music in the park.

“I think our formula of art, wine and jazz is a winning brand and we’ve been able to draw people who are interested in maybe just one of those three or maybe two of them,” said Letty Rayneri, festival director. “It’s a triple impact and kind of like a cultural event.”

The festival, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 18, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 19, will feature 70 artists and crafters with items for purchase during the event.

And even though there will also be wine and jazz, Rayneri said the main focus is put on the arts, which include different items all from a juried list of sellers.

Those who attend the free festival will be able to shop through tents around the square and look for items like oil, watercolor and acrylic paintings along with ceramics, wood items, leather products, glass art, custom knives and jewelry.

Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 18, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 19

Where: Dahlonega square

How much: Free

More info: www.chestateeartists.org

Brenda Steele has been a part of the festival since it began four year ago. She sells handmade copper wire jewelry that she taught herself how to make. She’s always been the creative type and was a stained-glass artist for years, but started working with wire once she saw a friend doing it about 15 years ago.

“I take different gauges of wire and shape them and hammer them and make earrings, bracelets, cuffs, necklaces and all sorts of things,” Steel said of her one-person business run out of a corner in her living room.

She’s an Atlanta native, but has lived in Dahlonega for 33 years, so she tries to take advantage of all the festivals that are hosted there. She goes to about 16 festivals each year, and the Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival is one of her favorites.

“It’s on the historic square in Dahlonega and people don’t need much of an excuse to come to Dahlonega anyway,” Steele said. “The setting is just nice and it's a beautiful weekend that’s always packed.”

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Mike Sherrer, owner of Byrd Mountain Pottery, tells Gainesville resident Lisa Johnston about the pottery on display at the Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival in Dahlonega, on Saturday, May 19. Johnston was there to pick up some gifts for her son's teachers. - photo by Layne Saliba

As the years go on and the festival grows with more and more artists like Steele, Rayneri said she hopes the city will close the roads to traffic around the square like they are for other festivals.

She doesn’t want the festival to get too big, though, because she still wants it to have an intimate feel, especially in Hancock Park just off the square where you can see the live jazz music and visit the wine garden.

Kaya Vineyard & Winery, Etowah Meadery, Montaluce Winery, Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery and Habersham Winery & Vineyards will all be selling wine by the bottle and glass at the event. You can get 16 tastings for $30 or a glass for $8. The wine garden opens at 11 a.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

This year, Rayneri said she's excited for people to be able to enjoy their wine in Hancock Park as opposed to being required to stay in the tent.

“People can be in the tent, tasting their wine and then walk out of the tent and sit at a table and enjoy the jazz,” Rayneri said.

While you’re in the park drinking your wine, you’ll be treated to music you can’t hear at other festivals in Dahlonega.

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Joan Beck of Ball Ground gets a glass of wine from Kaya Vineyard & Winery at the Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival in Dahlonega, on Saturday, May 19. Kaya is a local winery in Dahlonega, formerly Blackstock Vineyards. - photo by Layne Saliba

“We are entirely different from Gold Rush or Bear on the Square,” Rayneri said. “I think we’re attracting a different demographic.”

Little Big Band Atlanta will perform during the weekend along with Brookwood Split who has “been a big hit” in years past. Tommie Macon and the Gentle Men of Jazz will also perform.

“I think our combination has become attractive,” Rayneri said. “Jazz, I think, is on the rise more than it used to be.”

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