DISTANCE: 50 MILES, ONE-HOUR DRIVE
Always the third full weekend in October, the Dahlonega Gold Rush Days Festival brings over 200,000 people to the sleepy little north Georgia town to celebrate the 1828 discovery of gold in them thar hills.
Tourism Society, the Gold Rush Days Festival features over 300 arts and craft exhibitors as well as food vendors around the Public Square and Historic District in downtown Dahlonega. Known as the first site of the Georgia Gold Rush, the town’s namesake gold deposit was the largest in the United States, resulting in a fever of mining and panning for the precious metal. The accidental discovery in 1828 soon spread through the North Georgia mountains, following the Georgia Gold Belt. By the early 1840s, the gold became scarce, and many miners moved west when gold was found in the Sierra Nevada in 1848, starting the California Gold Rush.
Much like the city’s tagline, Gold Rush Days are “pure gold.” The various festivities are perfect for the young and young at heart: a high spirited parade, handmade wares, plenty of live entertainment, a fashion show, hand wrestling tournaments, wheelbarrow races, gospel singing and, of course, panning for gold. Hosted annually by the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Jaycees, all proceeds benefit the community. As an added bonus, the Gold Rush Days Festival is the perfect time to glimpse North Georgia’s gorgeous fall leaf display.