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Weekend festival strikes gold
Dahlonegas Gold Rush draws thousands for food, contests, music and gold panning
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It’s that time of year again in Dahlonega — Gold Rush Days.

The annual festival held on Saturday and Sunday is a celebration of the discovery of gold in Dahlonega in 1828.

Gold Rush features more than 300 arts and crafts exhibitors and food vendors, along with children’s activities, gold panning contests and even a gospel singing.

"We have a fashion show, water balloon toss," said Allison Martin, Dahlonega Jaycees treasurer. "They have ... face painting and the parade. All of our food vendors are located in one area and other people that sell other goods are mixed in with the other vendors.

"We’ll have handmade jewelry, crafts, quilts, candles and soaps — a wide variety of things."

For children, there also will be pony rides and inflatable jumping toys.

Admission to the event is free and suggested parking for guests is at a paid lot located on the campus of North Georgia College & State University.

"Parking is going to be more difficult (this year)," said Hal Williams, director of the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We have about 200 parking spaces out of our inventory because of the construction of a huge parking deck behind Holly Theater.

"They will be parking cars on the drill field as they have done in the past for about $6 and that is the best alternative, especially coming from the Gainesville area because you come right in on Ga. 60, and parking is right there. And it’s about one block over to the festival."

Gold Rush Days, sponsored by the Dahlonega Jaycees, attracts about 200,000 people each year for the event.

"We certainly hope we will reach that goal this year," Martin said. "We have definitely seen an increase in the number of tourists ... We are beginning to see the leaves change just a little bit."

Guests can enjoy the coronation of the festival’s king and queen at noon on Saturday and the parade will follow at 2 p.m.

"They (the king and queen) are nominated by people in the community," Martin said. "It is for people that have worked in the community and have been involved in the county. We take them straight back from the coronation to put them in the parade."

The proceeds from Gold Rush Days benefit the Jaycees’ charitable projects throughout the year.

"The Jaycees is a service organization that teaches management to younger adults," Martin said. "We take the proceeds from Gold Rush and put it right back into the community with our Empty Stocking fund at Christmas and for the scholarship program, where we award six scholarships each year to high school seniors in our community."

Another Jaycees group, the Blairsville Jaycees, is also set to hold a festival in their mountain city.

This year will be the 38th year for the annual Sorghum Festival.

The event will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday and Oct. 26-28, with events at Fort Sorghum and the civic center.

For more information contact (706) 745-4745 or