56th Annual Gold Rush Festival in Dahlonega, GA
- The Sands
photos by Tony Baggett
If you want to burst into Autumn 2009 on a run through the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia and soak up a little sunshine and Fall color, the Sands have just the outing for you. MCMC will be making a run down to Dahlonega, GA on Friday, Oct. 16 to participate in the 56th Annual Gold Rush Days Festival http://www.offbeattravel.com/dahlonega-georgia.html.
There is "Gold in them thar Hills!" You will find out that the first major U.S. gold rush just happened to take place around the Dahlonega area in 1828, some 20 years before California.The Gold Rush Festival is held the third weekend in October, when thousands come to see Fall colors peaking and to celebrate Dahlonega's gold strike.
Over 300 art and craft exhibitors gather around the Public Square and Historic District in support of this annual event, and it is estimated that a crowd of over 200,000 visit over the weekend to join in the fun and excitement! It has been voted one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Dahlonega's commercial district, including the public square, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Major wineries have discovered the rich, fertile hillsides of Lumpkin County with others scheduled to open up operation in the future. And, as with most MCMC trips, we've scouted about for some good chow.
As usual, getting there will be half the fun. We'll gather at the Cracker Barrel in Murfreesboro (I-24 @ Exit 81B) for Breakfast at 8 a.m. and take off for Chattanooga at 9 a.m. We'll head up through the Ocoee River Gorge and drop down into Blue Ridge, GA, where we'll stop off for a spell and visit Mercier Orchard (http://www.mercier-orchards.com/) at 8660 Blue Ridge Drive. If you've never visited Mercier's in the fall during peak apple harvest, you are in for a real treat.
From Blue Ridge, we'll drop even further down into GA on Hwy 60 through Suches & U.S. 19 into Dahlonega, where we'll check into the Econo Lodge http://www.econolodge.com/hotel-dahlonega-georgia-GA209 (706-864-6191) at 619 North Grove Street (a half mile from the center of town). The hotel features a Continental Breakfast and wireless internet service. The room rate is $110+Tax per night. NOTE: You do not need to contact the Lodge, as your reservations will be coordinated by the Sands. No room deposits will be required. There is a two-night minimum, with a two-week cancellation notice required. We would ask that, once you commit, if your plans change, please notify Gray or Candy, at once. Otherwise, the room/cabin is your responsibility.
Following check-in, we have plans for dinner around 5 p.m. at the famous Smith House http://www.smithhouse.com/ at 84 S. Chestatee Streetin Dahlonega. Platters are piled high with Smith House style fried chicken and sweet baked ham, with roast beef; fried okra, candied yams and a dozen or so different fresh, steamed vegetables; homemade yeast rolls and corn muffins that melt in your mouth...this is the kind of old fashioned home cooking that has made The Smith House a favorite for folks from all over the country.
Following dinner, we may find our way to Wylies Down Under http://wyliesrestaurant.com/aboutus.aspx, (706) 867-6324 at 19 N. Chestatee Street OR to Shenanigan's Irish Pub (20@7) (706) 482-0114 at 87 N. Chestatee Street for some live music before retiring for some much needed sack time.
Saturday morning, at around 9 a.m., following breakfast, we'll take in the Gold Rush Festival in the downtown historic district, as tens of thousands of people converge on the town from all directions. We'll slip out early at around 12 Noon for lunch (The Back Porch Oyster Bar at 93 Public Square, 706-864-8623) (Gabee's Cajun Kitchen at 90 Public Square, 706-864-4417) (Caruso's Italian Grille at 19B East Main Street, 706-864-4664) and for a 1:30 p.m. tour & taste of some of the best wine available in Dahlonega at the Frogtown Winery (http://www.frogtownwine.com/ 706.865.0687
at 700 Ridge Point Drive AND/OR at the BlackStock Vineyards & Winery http://www.bsvw.com/index.shtml 706-219-2789 at 5400 Town Creek Road.
Then at around 4 p.m., we'll head North out of Dahlonega back up to Suches, where we'll pick up Hwy 180 (a.k.a. "The Snake") to Hwy 17 and drop south down into Helen, GA for some Prime Rib, shrimp or Crab Legs at Paul's Steakhouse & Lounge (706) 878-2468 at 8537 Main Street, and a few hours exploring the unique little Bavarian Village of Helen, before returning to Dahlonega for a good night's sleep.
Sunday morning, we'll pack up and head due West on Hwy 52 toward Ellijay, GA. On the outskirts of Dahlonega, we'll stop for a spell at Burt's Pumpkin Patch Farm http://www.burtsfarm.com/ just outside of Dawsonville on Hwy 52. Check it out and you'll discover that Burt's is representative of "everything autumn" in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia. Then on to Ellijay, GA with an option of Brunch at The River Street Grille at 40 River Street (706) 69-RIVER OR at Corks & Crumbs at 5 Southside Square (706) 698-WINE. From Ellijay, we'll hightail it out of town, staying on Hwy 52 through Chatsworth & Dalton to I-75 and all points North.
Well, that's the scoop. In short, we have one heck of a fun weekend planned romping in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia at the peak of the Autumnal Equinox. Come along and help us celebrate life. Just RSVP to Gray/Candace at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 794-0852. Z~Z~Z
ZOOM ! ZOOM ! ZOOM !