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City ready for Mule Camp
Downtown streets close for annual three-day event
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Mule Camp Market kicks off today with live tunes at 10 a.m. as the first crowds partake in the annual festival hosted by the Gainesville Jaycees.

Directors are prepared for up to 100,000 people to amble around the square throughout the three-day event featuring music, Appalachian crafts, a playhouse raffle and of course, mule rides. But for those planning to take more modern transportation, event staff and local police are prepared for the onslaught of vehicles.

"Last year we had about 80,000," Mule Camp Market director Michael John Lovell said. "We expect 75,000 to 100,000 people this year."

The Gainesville Police Department closed all four streets of the downtown square — Main, Washington, Bradford and Spring streets — on Thursday afternoon to allow trucks and trailers to move into the area and begin setting up the two stages and 175 booths.

The roads will remain closed through Sunday afternoon.

Lt. Keith Lingerfelt of the Gainesville Police Department’s specialized services division said that he typically sees a steady flow of people coming in and out of the festival throughout the weekend, which allows for ample parking.

He said that the best places to park are at the Georgia Mountains Center parking deck off Main Street and the city parking lot across from the Georgia Mountains Center on the corner of Main Street and Jesse Jewell Parkway. Lingerfelt said that additional parking is located at the Hall County Courthouse parking deck off of E.E. Butler Parkway.

"Mule Camp is usually a real nice, laid-back event," he said. "We usually don’t have any problems."

Lingerfelt said festival organizers have a permit to keep the four streets blocked from Friday morning until Sunday after 5 p.m.