Monday, October 3, 2011

A golden weekend in Dahlonega


             The first thing I needed to do upon visiting Dahlonega, a quaint town north of Atlanta in Georgia’s sleepy Appalachian mountains, is learn how to pronounce the name. Da-lon-a-ga was named for the Cherokee word Talonega meaning “golden.”
            The second thing I learned was that Dahlonega was the site of the first major U.S. gold rush, in 1828, hence the name.
            Celebrating this discovery of gold in them golden Georgia hills is the 54th annual Jaycees Gold Rush Days Festival Oct. 15-16, 2011. The two-day event will feature live musical performances by Lonesome Road Bluegrass Band, Kayla Armstrong and Heather Faraday; more than 300 arts and crafts exhibits; children’s activities; food and a 3 p.m. Saturday parade through downtown.   
            According to the Jaycees press release, festivities kick off around 9 a.m. each day and will include a number of special performances, such as Scotsmen playing tradition bagpipes on the square on Saturday. Festivities include a fashion show, treasure hunt, hog calling contest and a clogging contest where at 2 p.m. Saturday the clogging king and queen will be crowned. 
            If you can’t make the festival, be sure and visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum located in the courthouse in the center of town. Visitors will find a comprehensive film that explains the gold rush days and the formation of the town, plus exhibits on the history of Dahlonega.
            Visitors can also pan for gold at the The Crisson Gold Mine, which dates back to 1847. It’s open every day but Christmas.
            Outside of its golden heritage, Dahlonega is home to luxurious day spas, wineries, places to enjoy horseback riding and canoeing, accommodations that range from the Smith House Hotel with a gold mine in its basement and the elegant suites of the Park Place Hotel (shown below) to hidden cabins and retreats in the mountains. Dahlonega is also close to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail and a great place for hiking and backpacking.
            The perfect book for a trip to Dahlonega, especially during the haunting days of October, is “Dahlonega Haunts” by Amy Blackmarr. The book lists homes and businesses where folks refuse to leave with Blackmarr explaining the stories and psychic R. Brian Keith giving his take on the spirits. It’s an entertaining read and a great way to learn about the area.
For information about Gold Rush Days, visit www.dahlonegajaycees.com. For information on the Golden City, visit www.Dahlonega.org or www.facebook.com/DestinationDahlonega

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