HemlockFest- Dahlonega’s Little Woodstock

hemlockfest festival

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/

Gold Rush Festival- A Survival Guide

gold rush festival

Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Festival happens every year the third weekend in October. The event is the largest festival of the year in Dahlonega and probably the largest festival in the North Georgia mountains. Ranked as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeastern Tourism Society, you should come and experience it at least once.

It has been estimated that over 200,000 people attend the event over the two day weekend so festival goers need to be aware of crowds. This article will provide tips on surviving the festival with all of those people. Come and enjoy the festival atmosphere and work around the crowds unless you like crowds.

The Gold Rush festival does not begin until Saturday morning but you will see evidence of the coming event if you travel downtown Friday afternoon and evening. The Historic Dahlonega square is blocked off with barricades to vehicular traffic Friday evening and the East-West streets are closed from the UNG campus near El Jimodor restaurant to Pueblos Restaurant on the other end. Then the 300 or more vendors move in to set up their booths that will be displaying and selling everything from art to jewelry to hand made furniture. Many festival food vendors will also be setting up to sell drinks, bratwurst, pork rinds, funnel cakes and more.

The Gold Rush Festival also has a great small town parade on Saturday from the Walmart intersection to the square with a grand marshall, festival king and queen. Check the timing if you’re there or plan on driving that way.

Timing is Everything

If you are staying with us for the festival weekend we recommend you enjoy dinner in Dahlonega Friday night before the Gold Rush festival begins. If the streets are blocked the parking areas around the square are a short walk away from the restaurants.

Saturday morning after eating your scrumptious breakfast at the inn plan to head to town by 10:00 am to check out the Gold Rush Festival before the afternoon crowds arrive. Finish up by noon or 1:00 pm and head out of town to one of the five wineries in the area that are mainly located north of town not too far from the inn. For lunch and/or dinner choose one of the wineries (see related blog post below) or the Riverside Tavern at Turners Corner north of the inn.

Getting back into downtown Dahlonega Saturday afternoon can mean a long wait in traffic – at least by our small town country standards. Make your plans accordingly.

Most of the waterfalls, hiking trails and wineries are north of town away from the Gold Rush traffic. These can keep you busy for the rest of your Saturday and Sunday as well. If you want to stop by the festival after breakfast to see if that special item you wanted on Saturday is still there, Sunday morning is a great time to head back to town. Crowds tend to be light until after 12:00 noon.

For more information visit https://goldrushdaysfestival.com/

Dahlonega Wineries for Lunch (Frogtown and Montaluce also serve dinner) https://www.georgiamountaininn.com/2019/09/04/dahlonega-wineries-for-lunch/

Dahlonega TrailFest

trail fest festival vendor tents

Dahlonega TrailFest happens every year in early September.

The festival celebrates the outdoors and the Appalachian Trail which is nearby. It also celebrates Dahlonega as an AT Trail town and the southern terminus to the Appalachian trail.

Come stay with us in a room or a yurt  and attend the festivities.

The festival was started by the Yahoola Trails Conservancy who has promoted hiking in the Dahlonega area for years. They developed the popular walking trail around Dahlonega’s reservoir, Lake Zwerner. The trail is also featured in our blog post of Dahlonega favorite walking trails.

Earlier years the festival was focused on the Appalachian Trail. It later evolved into a festival of outdoor activities using non motorized outdoor recreation. Now you will learn more about and see vendors and activities featuring backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking, orienteering, and more!

Past festivals have had paddle boarding and kayak demos on Lake Zwerner,  downtown climbing wall,  downtown pump track for mountain biking, running shoe demos,  group led mountain biking rides at the Bull and Jake Mountain trails , service projects for trail maintenance, a 5k/10k run, outdoor trivia contests, kayaking/tubing/canoeing on the Chestatee River and non guided hikes to Preacher’s Rock. Dahlonega Trailfest has something for everyone!

Authors and speakers who write about the Trail or have hiked the Trail as thru hikers are part of the program. If you enjoy hiking or outdoor activities you should consider attending. Workshops on hiking and enjoying nature are usually featured as well as vendors of outdoor gear. Major sponsors vary from year to year and often include REI and Jekyll Brewing.

Music and food are also an integral part of the festival. Musical concerts are normally scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings.

Come stay with us in a yurt or room and attend the Dahlonega Trailfest festival.

For more information for the current year calendar of events visit Trailfest