Rushing to Gold Rush


Photo by Emma Keisler

Dahlonega’s population grew by 200,000 for its Gold Rush Day Festival this past weekend. This October festival has been an ongoing tradition since 1954, celebrating the first findings of gold in Dahlonega in 1828. People from all over visit the festival for the food, vendors, and to explore the town. This festival was voted as one of the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Photo by Emma Keisler

The festival was kicked off Saturday with a Gold Rush 5k sponsored by the Dahlonega Rotary. Events that visitors enjoyed included an old time fashion show, live music, magic shows, and more.

The Heartbreak Chasers performed cover songs and original music in the food district of the festival. Members Katie Rose Johnson and Brittany Currans Johnson, both University of North Georgia alumnus, explained that they love the atmosphere of Gold Rush. They have been playing ukulele together at Gold Rush for the past two years, and enjoy networking during the festival.

Brittany Johnson says, “I love Gold Rush because there is just so much creativity from the music, the vendors, what’s offered here and even the festival goers. We just love putting ourselves out there and getting out of our comfort zone.”

Katie Johnson says her favorite part is the small town feeling, “It’s all just native. We were even looking at the set list and noticed there were a lot of people that we know.” They are available to reserve for events and can be contacted at [email protected].

Photo of Katie Johnson (left) and Brittany Johnson (right) by Emma Keisler

Craft vendors were also very successful in this year’s festival. Nickie Bryson, founder of The Repurposed Life, showcased her crafts. Bryson’s vision when creating her booth was to showcase her versatility.

She says, “This is my boutique line where I feature my sewings. I do everything from aprons, to kitchen boas, bull cozies, and I also refinish furniture, do upholstery, and antiques.”

This was Bryson’s first year in Gold Rush, but she says it’s been a great experience minus some weather mishaps on Saturday. She says, “The wind was crazy. I just wanted to make sure nothing blew across the street and we didn’t lose our tents. We had to rethink our setup a little bit.”

Bryson keeps busy participating in other festivals, selling her items on Facebook, and maintaining her two antique booths in Clarkesville, Georgia. Her inspiration when creating her products is the overall creativity and enjoyment she feels when sewing. Bryson says her favorite part of Gold Rush is, “interacting with the people, enjoying the weather, and showcasing her work.”

Photo from inside Canopy and the Roots by Emma Keisler

Local businesses in Dahlonega thrived this weekend with the abundance of people visiting. Kaley Bleakman, a junior majoring in Education at UNG and barista for Canopy and the Roots, said “We have had a steady flow. The people here for the festival have been walking in and so it’s been pretty busy.”

Bleakman explored the festival in her free time and says, “It was pretty fun. I found so many things that I wanted to buy. But I’m broke.” Employees at The Humble Candle agreed saying that they have had exponentially more business and are thankful for the crowds.

If interested, you can apply to become a vendor or to be featured in the parade for next year’s festival on Oct. 15 and 16.

Photo by Emma Keisler