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Back in the golden days: Dahlonega event attracts hundreds
Kerry Soudijn looks at a display of fused glass sun catchers Sunday morning at the Steele Stained Glass Co. in Dahlonega during Gold Rush Days.

DAHLONEGA — The annual fall festival "Gold Rush Days," sponsored this year by the Dahlonega Jaycees, drew hundreds to the Northeast Georgia town this past weekend for a mix of arts and crafts and tasty food.

The town square and many of the streets leading away from it were lined with vendors under tents selling a variety of items and lots of different kinds of food. The festival also featured a parade through the square and gospel singing.

The fall festival is held every year during the third weekend of October to commemorate the nation’s first major gold rush, which happened in Dahlonega in 1828.

In addition to the variety of entertainment, food and other wares, several North Georgia College & State University sororities and groups also held fundraisers during the festival.

For vendors, the festival was a good opportunity for them to share their items.

Tracy Stephans sold long-sleeved T-shirts and sweatshirts fitted for women, all of which had been embroidered with holiday designs by herself.

"I’ve done this show for a couple of years," said Stephans. "It’s a lot of fun, and I like to talk to people. I just have a good time."

She also sells items for infants on which the baby’s name can be embroidered.

"I like being in Dahlonega," said Stephans. "It’s my favorite time of the year."

Brian Beals sold wooden puzzles that he carved himself.

"We were here last year, and we did quite well, so we’re back again this year," said Beals. "It’s a great show."

Beals said he started carving puzzles five years ago for his grandchildren. His puzzles are made from different kinds of wood such as maple and walnut. The puzzles were colored with food coloring approved by the Food and Drug Administration and coated with a sealer.

People came from across Northeast Georgia to experience the fall festival.

Stephanie Shoun of Gainesville said she decided to come to the festival "just out of the blue."

"It’s a nice day, and it’s something to do," said Shoun. "I enjoy just being in the mountains, looking at the different vendors, and seeing the talents of all of the people."

Matthew Milner came with his family from Hartwell to enjoy the festival.

"It’s a family tradition. We do it every year," said Milner.

He said he and his family like going to all the different fall festivals featured in Northeast Georgia every year.

Other festivals that take place in Dahlonega during the year are An Old-Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega, held in December, and Bear on the Square, held in April.

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