Hemlockfest is a unique 3 day music festival with a Woodstock vibe that happens the first full weekend in November. Since 2005 Hemlockfest has been raising funds to save the southeastern forests’ Hemlocks which are in peril and to reintroduce the American Chestnuts (more details below).
Festival guests have the option of purchasing passes to the events for 1 to 3 days. On site primitive tent camping sites are available for an additional fee- no trailers or motorhomes. Campers have access to pit toilets and primitive showers. Since it is an environmental festival campers are required to leave no trace and leave the campsite like they found it.
The Hemlockfest venue is Starbridge – a 50 acre private event facility east of Dahlonega (see map below) and provides an ideal location for the event. There is a nice 5 acre lake on the property for paddling canoes provided by Appalachian Outfitters. The event stage where the bands perform uses a sound system powered by solar panels.
As mentioned earlier the purpose of Hemockfest is to save the hemlock trees and reintroduce the southeastern chestnut trees. The hemlocks are being threatened by a parasitic insect called the wooly adelgid and festival proceeds are used to fund predator beetle labs at the local universities to raise the beetles for release in hemlock populated forests. Hemlocks are large evergreen trees that thrive in the shade and provide wildlife habitat and help with soil erosion on mountainsides and streams. They like acid soil and grow in higher elevations where other trees cannot survive. Ten years ago we visited western North Carolina near Grandfather Mountain and saw hundreds of miles of dead hemlocks, as far as you could see. The National Forest Service claims millions of hemlocks have been lost already. Such a loss is devastating to the eco system.
Since 2016 Hemlockfest has also raised money for the American Chestnut tree that has been wiped out by a fungal blight. 100 years ago the tree was a dominant hardwood species in the Appalachian forests. A blight resistant version of the tree is now being introduced in the forests.
Now for the fun part of this blog. When we attend Hemlockfest it seems like a small version of Woodstock. With live bands playing most of the day and into the evening, and attendees dancing and singing it is always a festive event. Food and local craft beer are available so you won’t go hungry or thirsty. Shenanigan’s is always there with a volunteer staff serving food and donating the proceeds to the cause. Artists are there selling their unique creations as well and we always seem to bring something back. Educational exhibits and talks about the hemlocks are also provided. A silent auction with unique items is located near the main stage area.
Come stay us and spend the day at Hemlockfest. Enjoy a unique festival while helping save the hemlocks and reintroduce the chestnuts.
For more information on Hemlockfest and to purchase tickets online visit their web site. http://hemlockfest.org/blog/