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Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Days is the latest festival canceled by the pandemic
Gold Man
Noah Andrews, Gold Man, waves to festival-goers during Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. Andrews requests donations for photos taken with him to go towards Rainbow Children's Home. - photo by Austin Steele

Like many fall festivals this year, Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega has been canceled thanks to the pandemic. 

The event’s board of directors made the announcement on its website and Facebook page Sept. 15, stating that 2020 marks the first time Gold Rush Days has been called off since 1968. 

Each October, the Dahlonega festival attracts thousands of visitors, who gather to celebrate the city’s 1828 discovery of gold. Attendees come together in the Historic Dahlonega Square to revel in the hundreds of craft exhibitors, as well as food vendors, live music and other family-friendly activities. 

“Our hearts are heavy with the burden of knowing how the community will react to the news,” the release stated. “We know some will applaud the decision, and others will denounce our actions. Whatever your position, please know we truly understand the frustration and we fought as hard as we could and will continue to fight for our community.” 

The Gold Rush Days event organizers’ statement on the cancellation was met with mixed reactions on social media. 

The event’s hosts said they gathered information from partners at the Northeast Georgia Health System, local schools, government departments and other festival organizers to help them weigh their decision.  

The organizers said that, after prayer, careful planning and observing the state of the pandemic, they concluded there was no safe way to carry on the event, especially since it draws large crowds. 

“One-by-one we saw the struggle of other festivals cancelling,” the released stated. “I am sure you have seen the list of cancellations spanning all across Georgia. We have been planning to have the event right up until this last moment and despite our efforts, the time has come to bow out.” 

Gold Rush Days
Crowds fill the streets during Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

The two-day event is run by the nonprofit, Gold Rush Days Festival, Inc. Last year, the organization raised $53,000 through booth space fees, parade entries, T-shirt sales and direct donations. All the proceeds went toward providing college scholarships, giving aid to families in need, contributing donations to other nonprofits and holding its Empty Stocking Christmas program.  

“This year, like many other groups, we are going to see a huge decrease in our revenue stream, however we are determined to make a positive impact to those in need,” the event organizers stated. “We will restructure our programs and continue to serve this community, regardless of a loss in revenue.” 

To find out which events are still going on this fall in North Georgia, read The Times’ article: “Your guide to 2020 North Georgia fall festivals. What’s happening and what’s canceled thanks to COVID.” 

This article was compiled from a press release. 

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