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Finally, it feels like fall. Here's 3 ways to revel in it this weekend
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Fall color at Tallulah Gorge State Park between Habersham and Rabun Counties. The gorge is one of the best, and most popular, places to take in autumn color. - photo by Scott Rogers

Beers in the garden, music in the hills, pig wrastlin’ — here are three ways to get out of Gainesville to enjoy this beautiful weekend.

Conditions are perfect: The bugs are (mostly) gone (sort of), and weekend forecasts call for sun, temperatures in the mid-60s and light fall breezes.

Georgia Mountain Beer Festival

When: Noon-4 p.m., Oct. 20

Where: Gibbs Gardens, 1987 Gibbs Drive, Ball Ground

How much: $55 at the gate, $45 in advance

More info: Website

It feels like no one is taking advantage of the weekend quite like Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, which this weekend has its Georgia Mountain Beer Festival.

The Saturday, Oct. 20, festival is serious beer business for North Georgia and includes more than 20 local and regional craft breweries, from big-time SweetWater Brewing Co. to the scandalous Scofflaw Brewing Co to the upstart New Realm Brewing Co.

For four hours beginning at noon, attendees will have the run of the gardens — sampling beer, grabbing some grub and catching tunes from The LooSe ShoEs Band (no, we don’t know why they write it like that).

Food vendors include Taco Bout It Food Truck, Pine Street Meats, Bratzeit German Restaurant, Arbor Cafe and Subshine Alchemy.

But serious beer costs serious money — as the guys buying $10 craft four-packs know well by now — so expect to pay $55 at the gate on Saturday, which covers the cost of beer but not food. Attendees must have a valid ID and be 21 and older to get access. Buying a ticket ahead of time does not guarantee access without some identification.

Ball Ground is about an hour west

If big beer and big money don’t fit on your calendar this weekend, slide up Cornelia Highway to Sweet Acre Farms, where a wrap-around porch and music ringing in the North Hall hills are calling our names.

Sweet Acre Farms Third Friday

When: 6-9 p.m. Oct. 19

Where: 7584 Bill Wilson Road, Alto

How much: No cost for entry

More info: Facebook

It’s the third Friday of the month this week, and that means food and tunes at Sweet Acre. A barbecue master by the name of Bo will be slinging meat and Georgia Rose, a four-piece gospel band, is set to perform from 6-9 p.m.

Bo is running an upstart barbecue operation, said Sweet Acre co-owner Matt Vrahiotes, and doesn’t have much of an online presence. He’s set up shop at Sweet Acre once before and sold out.

If you can’t make it Friday, the winery will have Hazel Creek performing from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20.

For those bored by the conventional, the modern, the hoity-toity: Let us present Old Fashioned Gold Rush.

Old Fashion Gold Rush

When: 8 to 11 p.m. Oct. 19, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Oct. 20, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 21

Where: 279 Radio Road, Dahlonega

How much: Free

More info: Facebook

Frustrated by the gentrification of Gold Rush Days Festival in downtown Dahlonega — that community’s version of Gainesville’s Mule Camp Market — Charlie Whelchel and Ron Cartledge have set out to recreate the festival of their youths.

That means greased pigs, tobacco-spitting contests, pie-eating contests and a full weekend beginning this Friday of other events on Radio Road in Lumpkin County, just a couple of miles from the Dahlonega square.

Gold Rush Days

When: Saturday-Sunday

Where: Downtown Dahlonega

How much: No cost for entry

More info: Facebook

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