In Georgia, celebrate gold, state’s apple industry and NASCAR’s connection to moonshine
By Todd DeFeo
ATLANTA – From an appreciation of apples to celebration of moonshine, North Georgia is home to a number of colorful festivals every fall.
Three of the must-see festivals this October include the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega and the Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville.
Georgia Apple Festival, Ellijay, Oct. 13-14, 20-21
Ellijay and Gilmer County, located about 80 miles north of Atlanta, is known as the “Apple Capital of Georgia.” The county produces 600,000 bushels of apples every year. In celebration of its heritage, the area holds the Georgia Apple Festival every October.
The festival is complete with everything one would expect from a festival – from inflatable festival toys to arts and crafts to funnel cakes. Of course, there are also a number of apple delicacies, ranging from apple dumplings to fried apple pies.
For more information, visit www.georgiaapplefestival.org.
Gold Rush Days, Dahlonega, Oct. 20-21
Dahlonega’s fortunes changed forever in 1828 when gold was discovered in the area.
The U.S. Mint opened a branch mint in the city, which remained in operation until the start of the Civil War; the Confederate Treasury Department took over the facility following secession.
Today, the 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse located on the town’s square – the oldest in the state – is home to the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. The state park tells the story of the nation’s first major gold rush, which happened two decades before California’s major rush.
Each year, the city hosts “Gold Rush Days,” a celebration of the city’s past. On average, more than 200,000 people attend this annual festival, which features everything one would expect from a festival – from arts and crafts to food to a gold panning contest.
Dahlonega, a city of about 5,000, is located about 65 miles north of Atlanta. For more information, visit www.dahlonegajaycees.com.
Moonshine Festival, Dawsonville, Oct. 27-28
During the first of the 19th century, the city of Dawsonville grew as settlers and gold miners moved into the area in the wake of a gold rush in North Georgia. But Dawsonville earned its more storied, infamous reputation during Prohibition when the area became a focal point for moonshine production.
The cat-and-mouse game between the so-called “trippers” who transported moonshine and the “revenuers” chasing them served as the precursor to modern-day NASCAR. Many in the area claim Dawsonville as the (unofficial) “Birthplace of NASCAR” (the city is also home to Bill Elliott, better known as “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville”).
To celebrate its one-of-a-kind history, the city hosts the annual Mountain Moonshine Festival every year on the fourth weekend in October. The festival’s activities center on the downtown square and Dawsonville Municipal Complex. Highlights of the free festival include a car show, historical displays and a parade.
In addition, the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame is located in Dawsonville’s city hall. Racing aficionados may also want to stop by the Dawsonville Pool Hall to check out its extensive collection of racing memorabilia.
For more information, call (877) 302-9271 or visit www.dawson.org.
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