This year’s Mule Camp Market has a new location, but the same festival feel.
Last year’s festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year, city organizers resolved to hold the three-day event rain or shine.
The festival runs from Oct. 8-10 and features food, live music and vendors selling everything from handcrafted jewelry to award-winning hot sauces.
After another soggy day that pushed back the start time, the weather was forecast to be sunny and clear on Saturday.
Visitors are encouraged to park at either the Main Street parking deck or the Hall County parking facility, though the trolley will only stop at the Main Street deck.
Traditionally held in the historic downtown square, the festival was moved this year to the Midland Greenway.
“The Midland Greenway will provide a more park-like feeling for our Mule Camp guests, which will make it easier to linger longer at the event,” Chris Wunn, a Gainesville Jaycees Mule Camp director, said in a city news release. The new location also provides more space and will make it easier to expand as the festival grows with crowds in excess of 75,000.
Jerald Sergeant Sr., a Gainesville resident who’s been attending the festival for some two decades, said the layout this year is “totally different,” and although he preferred the downtown location because “you can get around easier,” he was glad to see the festival return and to bring two of his great grandkids along.
And despite the wet weather, vendors were happy, too.
Roy Burns and his wife Lynn, who sell farmhouse furniture and home decor, were happy to cash in the payment they made for their booth two years ago. Both retired, the festival gives them a reason to stay busy.
“We enjoy staying busy and doing things,” Burns said. “We’re not couch people.”
And after you’ve purchased some handmade cabinets made with repurposed windows, you can head over to Petreaux’s Gourmet Hotsauce, where you can try the award-winning Peach Habanero or Dragon Sauce.
“We grow all of our peppers,” Craig Petraszewsky, which range from Carolina Reapers — one of the world’s hottest peppers — to Brazilian Morugas. He uses the Carolina Reaper in one of his hot sauces.
“We enjoy talking to people,” he said, “because I’m passionate about this.”