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