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Bear on the Square offers sights, sounds of mountain life
Dahlonega festival, now in its 20th year, continues Sunday
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Chase Wendell, 7, pans for gold Saturday with the help of Weekend Gold Miners’ member Don Vincent at the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega. - photo by HAILEY VAN PARYS

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival

When: 10 a.m.-6:15 p.m. today

Where: downtown Dahlonega

Cost: Free

More info: www.bearonthesquare.org

DAHLONEGA — Whether you’re a young ’un or an oldie but a goodie, the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival has something to offer.

The annual mountain cultural festival continues today in Dahlonega. The event blends the tunes of bluegrass music with various folk art for sale, as well as demonstrations on various folk art techniques.

The festival is celebrating its 20th year and sold a special 20th anniversary CD to guests.

On Saturday, Woodworker Tom Henry’s whirligigs were a hit, capturing the attention of most who walked by. Ayden Moreno and his grandfather, Doug Gerdes, looked at the whirligigs and how they were made.

Gerdes took his 9-year-old grandson to the festival to expose him to things he might not see on television.

“I’m trying to get him interested in something other than video games,” Gerdes said.

Both Gerdes and Ayden live in Dahlonega, unlike Beth Santiago, who traveled some 4« hours from Dixie in South Georgia exclusively for the festival.

“We came just for this,” Santiago said. “We are almost at the Florida line.”

Katie Phagan enjoyed her fudge from The Fudge Factory’s kitchens. The 5-year-old chose a peanut butter and chocolate fudge from the eatery.

“I like it,” she said.

She wasn’t the only kid enjoying the warm weather.

“The kids love coming here,” Tracy Wendell said.

She and her two children, Isabel and Chase, came for the kids’ activities, specifically the Home Depot crafts tables and gold panning.

Chase, 7, especially enjoyed his time panning for gold at the Weekend Gold Miners’ booth, where he got help from member Don Vincent.

“You have to shake (the pan) to get the gold,” Vincent said.

His 9-year-old sister Isabel wore her Home Depot apron with pride.

“It’s our third year coming,” Tracy Wendell said.

Pam Howard showed off her weaving skills for visitors in the John C. Campbell Folk School booth.

“You have to demonstrate something easy,” Howard said, explaining how it’s easier then to avoid making a mistake in front of a crowd.

Ann and Michael McCormack watched Howard as she wove. They live in Dahlonega, where Ann has her own art studio and displays her metal works, paintings and recycled glass pieces. She’s also attended art-related classes at the Brasstown, N.C., folk school.

“It’s really influential,” she said.

While the McCormacks came for the art, the Moores came for another reason.

“We came for the music,” Dee Moore said.

That didn’t stop she and her husband A.C. Moore from walking away with a soap dish and some homemade soaps from Etowah River Pottery. They’ve been coming to the festival on and off for 20 years.

Even dogs have been coming back to the festival year after year. Toby the Papillon rode around on his owner’s shoulders with his tongue out, accepting head scratches and pets from passers-by.

“It’s his 12th year coming,” his owner John Kelley said. He claims his dog is completely fearless, as he’s game for riding on the back of a motorbike and WaveRunner with his owner whenever the opportunity arises.

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