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Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega,1999
Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega, 1999.

Gold Rush Days/World Open Gold Panning Championship

Two events celebrating the country's gold rushes take place every year in the mountains of north Georgia in the historic town of Dahlonega. The town's name is derived from the Indian word, talonaga, which means "precious metal."

Founded in 1954, Gold Rush Days is held every October to commemorate the first big gold rush that occurred in Dahlonega in 1828. Over the years, the two-day festival has grown into one of the biggest events in the southeast, attracting 500,000 people in 1999.

During the festival, which opens on Saturday, all vehicle traffic is detoured from the town square, where 300 arts and craft booths are set up. Among the many festivities are a fashion show, featuring women in long dresses and bonnets and men wearing gold mining duds; a treasure hunt; carnival; and children's wheelbarrow race; and a variety of contests covering hog calling, story telling, crosscut sawing, and clogging. Other highlights include the coronation of the festival's king and queen, chosen for their community involvement, and a two-mile-long parade of bands, floats, horses, antique cars and fire engines. Master of ceremonies Gun Sharpe oversaw the festival events, including performing the coronation, in 1999, just as he has done since 1955. Other entertainment included an "old west" show and buck dancing.

The World Open Gold Panning Championship, which began in California in 1961 to commemorate the 1842 discovery of gold in Los Angeles County, moved to the Consolidated Gold Mine in Dahlonega in the late 1980s. At the turn of the 20th century, the mine was reportedly the largest gold mining operation east of the Mississippi River. In 1901, during a cleanup, 54 pounds of gold were recovered from it.

Documentation includes two project reports and photographs.

Originally submitted by: Nathan Deal, Representative (9th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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