Let’s face it. Fall festival season won’t be the same this year.
The pandemic is flowing into the approaching cooler months, causing large crowd-drawing events to shut down in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mule Camp Market
Gainesville’s beloved Mule Camp Market is one of many festivals not coming to Northeast Georgia this year. Matt Smith, Gainesville Jaycees executive board member, said the city of Gainesville denied the permit request for the event.
“This will be the first time since 1993 that we haven’t had a Mule Camp Market in Gainesville,” Smith said. “I think we did a pretty good job of putting enhanced safety and sanitary measures in place, but the city wasn’t comfortable permitting it.”
Organized by the Gainesville Jaycees, Smith said the event uses its sponsorships and vendor fees to support the community service group’s Empty Stocking Fund, which provides Christmas gifts each year to around 250 children in need throughout Hall County.
Smith said the charity helps fulfill kids’ holiday wish-lists, which include items like jackets, shoes and socks.
“We literally have kids that say they’d love to have a coat or hairbrush,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out something else to recoup those funds because for us, it’s not about making money but where it’s going. We're going to buy Christmas for kids one way or another.
And it’s not just Mule Camp getting canceled.
Lula Fall Festival
Chris Lusink, Lula’s city clerk, said she has helped organize the Lula Fall Festival — which includes food and craft vendors, live music and a talent show — for the past eight years and has decided to cancel it for October.
“I don’t want to be responsible for more COVID cases,” Lusink said. “Unfortunately, I’ve told everybody, ‘Sorry, we’re not having it.’”
Helen has also put the brakes on its annual Oktoberfest event, which would’ve celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. The alpine town plans to postpone the event to 2021.
The Greater Area Helen Chamber of Commerce made the announcement Friday, July 24, in a press release, expressing that the choice was an “extremely difficult decision.”
“Despite our wishes and best efforts, we do not believe we would be able to provide an appropriate 50th anniversary celebration for our visitors and still maintain required safety protocols,” the release stated. “It would not be possible for the Festhalle experience this year to come close to what we are known for or what is expected."
Gold Rush Days
Dahlonega won't be celebrating its 66th annual Gold Rush Days festival this year. 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.
“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.”
Each October, the festival attracts thousands of visitors to celebrate the city’s 1828 discovery of gold. People gather in the Historic Dahlonega Square to explore hundreds of craft booths, as well as enjoy food vendors, live music and other family-friendly activities.
After prayer, careful planning and observing the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival's organizers 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.”
But while many places have tapped out for the season, others have not. To stop you from showing up to a nonexistent shindig, The Times has compiled a list of fall festivals and event cancelations around Northeast Georgia.
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Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, Gainesville
Mule Camp Market, Gainesville
Gold Rush Days, Dahlonega
September first Friday concert, Gainesville
Flowery Branch Fall Festival
Lula Fall Festival
Clermont Days 2020 Festival
Big Red Apple Festival, Cornelia
Chattahoochee Mountain Fair, Clarkesville
Snake Day, Elachee Nature Science Center, Gainesville
Jaemor Corn Maze
This event also provides hayrides, farm slides, a petting zoo, pumpkin train and many other family-friendly activities.
When: Oct. 5-23: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1-7 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, and 1-6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8
Where: Jaemor Farms, 5340 Cornelia Highway, Alto
Tickets: $14 per person
Buford Corn Maze
This attraction will additionally offer a pumpkin patch, duck race, hayrides, pony rides and a play area for children. For those wanting a scare, the Haunted Forest will creep into the venue Friday, Sept. 25.
When: Various hours Sept. 5 through Nov. 15
Where: Buford Corn Maze, 4470 Bennett Road, Buford
How much: $15 Corn Maze, $15 Haunted Forest and $25 combo
More info: bufordcornmaze.com
Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival
Running 18 years strong, Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival will showcase a plethora of items including antiques, furniture, artwork and other handcrafted pieces. The free event will include live music and eight food trucks for people to purchase alcoholic beverages, meals and desserts.
When: Noon to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25
Where: Braselton Park, 115 Harrison St., Braselton
How much: Free
More info: vintagemarkets.net
Gillsville Pottery Festivals
Known for its rich history of pottery, Gillsville is welcoming two clay-centric festivals this year. People can expect to see a spread of face jugs and other folk ceramic creations made by local artists for sale at both the Ferguson Family Pottery Show and Craven Family Pottery’s October Fall Festival.
Ferguson Family Pottery Show
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3
Where: Ferguson Family Pottery, 6468 Old Gillsville Road
How much: Free
Craven Family Pottery’s October Fall Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3
Where: Craven Family Pottery, 6616 Ga. Highway 52, Gillsville
How much: Free
Braselton Concerts on the Town Green
Live music will fill the open air as people lounge in lawn chairs and blankets on Braselton Town Green. Food trucks and drink tents will be stationed on site. The country rock group Creston Maxey Band will perform Saturday, Sept. 19, and the Vintage Vixens, a group who plays hits from the ‘60s and ‘70s, will take the stage Friday, Oct. 16.
When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, and Friday, Oct. 16
Where: Braselton Town Green, 9924 Davis St., Braselton
How much: Free
Mountain Moonshine Festival
This year’s Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville is moving forward after some back and forth between event organizers and the Dawson City Council. The event will have some precautions, including recommendations that vendors and visitors wear masks. The council gave the go-ahead Sept. 10.
When: Oct. 23-25
Where: Downtown Dawsonville