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Gold Rush Days Festival returns to Dahlonega third weekend in October
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

Gold Rush Days Festival is returning this fall to Dahlonega.

Held on the Dahlonega square, the two-day event attracts thousands of visitors, all gathering to celebrate the city’s 1828 discovery of gold. It is held by the nonprofit, Gold Rush Days Festival, Inc.

After putting it on hold last year, Dathan Harbert, treasurer of the organization’s board, said he and many others are thrilled to revive the tradition.

“We’re excited that Gold Rush is coming back to the Dahlonega square, and we’re excited to get things back to normal,” he said. “Everyone loves a good fall festival.”

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17. This year, Harbert said the event will have 230 art and craft exhibitors and food vendors. People can expect to see an area for gold panning and gemstone mining, run by the Consolidated Gold Mine, which Harbert manages.

The annual parade will kick off at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, and make its way through downtown.
Like past years, Harbert said the nonprofit will raise money through booth space fees, parade entrees, T-shirt sales and direct donations. He said all of the funds will go toward providing college scholarships, giving aid to families in need, supporting other nonprofits and holding its Empty Stocking Christmas program. In 2019, the organization raised $53,000. 

“We’re honored to be able to do that, and the Gold Rush makes that possible,” Harbert said.

Since the first festival was held in 1954, Harbert said it has grown to become a tradition shared by generations of families. He said it has become more than a commemoration of the town’s gold roots, but a big kickoff to the fall season for Northeast Georgians.

“It’s exciting to see everybody get together and enjoy the town,” he said. “It brings a lot of business to the downtown area. It’s like they rediscover what Dahlonega has to offer with all the different shops, restaurants and the quaintness of the town.”

The entertainment lineup for the festival is to-be-announced. For updates, visit goldrushdaysfestival.com or Gold Rush Days Festival’s Facebook page.

2021 Gold Rush Days Festival

What: Annual festival celebrating Dahlonega gold rush

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17

Where: Dahlonega square 

More info: goldrushdaysfestival.com