Bear on the Square Coming to Dahlonega


It’s that time of year, again. Dahlonega’s beloved Bear on the Square festival celebrating Appalachian culture is returning this weekend, April 14-16, for its 25th year.

The volunteer-led festival features a variety of musical performances from dozens of enthusiasts of the Appalachian music tradition, who play instruments ranging from mandolins to hammered dulcimers. Additionally, attendees should expect dozens of booths hosted by local craftsmen who create artisanal products like jams, pottery and jewelry.

University of North Georgia Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Marie Graham says the festival will run all weekend, with “pick-up musicians jamming in the square on every corner.” The festival, Graham says, will feature “workshops, performances, food vendors and artists in Hancock Park and on the square.”

Dr. Chuck Robertson, psychology professor, who is the UNG co-liason along with Graham, says they still need student volunteers to engage with a number of available opportunities to help ensure the historically busy festival is well-organized. 

Senior psychology major Isabella Darwish says she enjoyed her experience volunteering for the festival last year. “It’s a really unique experience for students and people in general because the artists display things you may not find in a regular store,” Darwish says. She says the festival is not just a celebration of Appalachian arts and history, but also of local artists and their trades.

Senior cybersecurity major Annelyssa Destin, who will be the bear on the square, says she did not realize the festival involved a bear mascot prior to actually becoming the mascot for the event. “Students should go to Bear on the Square because it is a long-standing tradition in Dahlonega,” says Destin. Destin says Graham suggested she be the mascot, “I was honored to be asked to be the bear and I believe it will be such a fun experience,” says Destin. “My job at the festival is to greet patrons and be available for pictures.” As students, Destin says, we make up the majority of the population and should participate in this community-oriented event. 

Graham says Dahlonega is a prime setting for such a celebration of Appalachian culture in North Georgia given its “rich tradition of Appalachian folk music, old-time string bands, fiddle and dance.”