Don Carter State Park opened on Lake Lanier six years ago, but there are still many who don’t know the 1,000-plus-acre state park exists.
Friends of Don Carter State Park is looking to change that.
The fundraising group had a booth at Gainesville’s recent Mule Camp Market, and many people who stopped by didn’t know there was a state park so close.
“I'd say we had over 1,000 people stop by,” Steven Ellis, president of the group, said. “They were like, ‘State park? What state park?’ So, I mean there are still people out there that don’t even know that the state park is here. But even the people who do know that it's here, a lot of those haven't even been.”
One reason to visit, and another way the group is trying to get the word out about the park, is its annual music festival — something it’s done every year since it opened. On Nov. 2, that festival is coming back again.
The Chattahoochee Mountain Music Festival is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. at the park. Admission to the event is free, but there is a $5 per car entrance fee to the park. The event is held in the day-use part of the park
Chattahoochee Mountain Music Festival
When: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2
How much: Free with $5 admission to the park 5
“It's not your Mule Camp,” Ellis said. “It's the furthest thing from Mule Camp, and it's not Gold Rush either. It's really for people who just enjoy bluegrass music and the folk, Americana and gospel-type music that kind of resonate here in the Southeast.”
Ellis said it’s an “intimate” festival drawing up to 500 people each year.
Of course, there will be plenty of live music at the Mountain Music Festival. Ellis said new artists will take the stage throughout the day. The Pressley Girls will be there playing their authentic Appalachian music along with Brush Fire. Father-and-son duo Troy and Jimmy T. Harris will perform, too, before Troy Harris joins his band, Coyote Anyway, for a performance. Bill Long and Friends will close things out with some classic bluegrass tunes.
Ellis said Firehouse Foods will be there serving hamburgers and hot dogs, and if you’re looking for some craft vendors, there will be a handful on site.
“This event is our way to just kind of showcase the park to the public,” Ellis said.
Once you’re in the gate, you’ll have access to everything the park has to offer.
“It's really got something for everybody,” Ellis said. “People who like hiking, it's got plenty of trails. People who like horseback riding, it has more than enough trails. … There’s plenty of paved paths you could ride bikes on and whatnot if that was your forte. There's two different boat ramps; there's a beach down there. So there's a ton of stuff.”
Any money raised by the event funds things “that aren’t necessarily covered by the state budget” or don’t make sense to wait for approval. That could be something as small as buying a new vacuum cleaner or helping to beautify a certain part of the park.
In any case, Ellis is hoping the festival continues to grow and bring awareness to the park.
He’s been around the park since before it opened and wants others in Hall County to find the same joy there that he does.
“There's so much to do out there that you couldn't do it all in one day,” Ellis said. “I don’t think you could do it all in one week, really.”