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Northeast Georgia's ultimate summer, fall festival guide
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Food of all kinds beckons visitors Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, to the annual Mule Camp Market in downtown Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

There’s always something going on in North Georgia. If you’re looking to get out and meander your way through crowds of locals and visitors alike, you’ve come to the right place. No matter the season and no matter the weather, North Georgia has a festival or event to suit you.

Summer

Summer MusicFest

This series of musical performances brings new acts each month to the Smithgall Arts Center in Gainesville.

The series starts with the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra on June 7. Led by Jeremy Davis and Clay Johnson, the big band act channels Motown, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Elvis and other styles and performers on stage, according to The Arts Council. On July 3, the Northwinds Symphonic Band is throwing a patriotic pops concert at the arts center. Grains of Sand, a soul and motown group, is performing in Gainesville as part of its farewell tour on July 19. North Georgia’s own Riverstreet is set to perform Aug. 3, the final performance of the series. For tickets and more information, go to www.theartscouncil.net.

When: Evening performances June 7, July 3, July 19, Aug. 3

Where: Smithgall Performing Arts Center,  331 Spring St. SW, Gainesville

More info: www.theartscouncil.net

Atlanta Dragon Boat Festival

The annual festival brings teams from all over the state to Lake Lanier to compete against each other in this iconic Hong Kong-born race on the water. The boats — fitted with ornate dragon heads on the front and tails on the back — are packed with competitors who then paddle their way down the course, hoping to beat the others. On top of the races, you’ll be able to learn about Chinese culture through traditions in the opening ceremonies as well as taste food from around the world from vendors on site.

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 8

Where: Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

More info: www.dragonboatatlanta.com/

Lavender Fest

If you want to have your senses tingled, this is the place to be. The eighth-annual Lavender Fest offers a chance to walk through fields of lavender in the Appalachian foothills while picking some to take home. There will be lavender-based foods and products for you to purchase, too.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 22

Where: The Lavender Cottage & Garden, 53 GA-255, Sautee Nacoochee

More info: shop.thelavendercottageandgarden.com/

Dahlonega 4th of July Celebration

There’s something special about watching fireworks in the mountains and Dahlonega has some of the best. With plenty of things to do around the historic downtown square before the sun goes down and plenty of room to spread a blanket in the grass once it does, you’re sure to have a good time. There’s almost no bad place to see the show from. And if you get to Dahlonega early, you’ll be able to catch the parade at 11 a.m. and a car show until 4 p.m.

When: 8 a.m. to dark Thursday, July 4

Where: Dahlonega

More info: http://www.dahlonega4thofjuly.com/

The Georgia Mountain Fair

The 69th-annual Georgia Mountain Fair will bring thousands of visitors from all over the state and the Southeast. The week-long festivities feature live music courtesy of bands and artists from all over to arts and crafts, carnival rides, North Georgia history demonstrations, photography show and even a worship service on Sunday.

When: July 19 - 27

Where: Georgia Mountain Fair Grounds, 1311 Music Hall Rd, Hiawassee

More info: http://www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.com/events/georgia-mountain-fair

Butternut Creek Festival

This annual festival at the picturesque Meeks Park along the Butternut Creek brings out the work of 70-75 artists and craftsmen each year. You’ll be able to find candles and soap, fine art, fabric art, decorative painting, glass and jewelry along with demonstrations of metal working, pottery, basketry and woodturning.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m July 20 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 21

Where: Meeks Park, 490 Meeks Park Road, Blairsville

More info: http://www.butternutcreekfestival.com/

Fall

Mule Camp Market

Mule Camp Market is one of Gainesville’s largest festivals and draws crowds from all over. Guests walk up and down the streets surrounding the downtown square, looking at handmade goods and other items for sale. You won't be able to walk far without smelling some of that good fried festival food and good luck pulling the kids away from the carnival rides.

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 11-12 and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 13

Where: Gainesville square

More info: www.gainesvillejaycees.org/about/projects/mule-camp/

Oktoberfest

If you can’t make it to Germany, try the next best thing: Helen. The Bavarian town will transport you to the streets of Germany and during Oktoberfest you’ll feel like you’re truly there. The 49th year will bring German music, dancing, food and plenty of beer, of course.

When: Sept. 5-8, Sept. 12-15, Sept. 19-22, Sept. 26 - Oct. 27

Where: Helen Festhalle, 1074 Edelweiss Strasse, Helen

How much: $8 Monday through Friday; $10 Saturdays; free Sundays

More info: www.helenchamber.com   

Gold Rush Days

Celebrate Dahlonega’s discovery of gold at the city’s annual Gold Rush Days. As the leaves are turning their best shades, the festival — and the drive to it — brings out the best of the little mountain town. You’ll find over 300 art and craft exhibitors along with food vendors, live music and activities for the whole family.

When: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19-20

Where: Historic Dahlonega Square

More info: goldrushdaysfestival.com/

Chattahoochee Mountain Fair

The Clarkesville Mountain Fair has been around since 1975 and it is a true mountain festival. There are classic festival events like carnival rides, a petting zoo and a cake walk. There’s even livestock judging, a tractor exhibit and a rodeo. If you make your way to cClarkesville for this festival, you’re sure to find something thjat excites everyone in your family and you may even find a new interest.

When: Sept. 6-14

Where: 182 Highway 17, Clarkesville

How much: $5 for adults; $3 for ages 5-12; free for children 4 and younger

More info: www.chattahoocheemountainfair.org

Big Red Apple Festival

Cornelia’s Big Red Apple Festival always pleases with its arts and crafts as well as hayrides. There’s plenty of live entertainment, food vendors, a kids' zone, corn hole tournament and a classic car show, too, at the festival’s 32nd event. The biggest draw, though, is that big red apple monument. Be sure to snap a photo in front of it for all your friends to see.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 28

Where: Downtown Cornelia, 181 Larkin Street, Cornelia

More info: www.corneliageorgia.org

Mountain Moonshine Festival

The Mountain Moonshine Festival is in its 52nd year and is one not to be missed. The festival features a car show, live music, food, arts, crafts and everything else you could want from a fall festival.

When: Friday Oct. 25 - Sunday Oct. 27

Where: Downtown Dawsonville, 415 Highway 53 E., Dawsonville

More info: http://business.dawson.org/events/details/mountain-moonshine-festival-15021

Cumming Country Fair and Festival

Celebrating its 25th year, the Cumming Country Fair offers live music, festival food and carnival rides along with a bit of history. The City of Cumming Fairgrounds is a location not to miss as Lady Houdini, a human cannonball, puppet shows and a petting zoo will all make an appearance.

When: Oct. 3-13

Where: Cumming Fairground, 235 Castleberry Road, Cumming

More info: cummingfair.squarespace.com/cumming-country-fair-festival

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