By David Zunker
Alot is being written about Dahlonega lately and, although we might seem like we’re showing off, really, we’re quite simply proud and pretty darn grateful.
In the last couple of years, Dahlonega has been the recipient of some very significant awards and third party endorsements, which means we’re not out there claiming something. Instead, others are speaking, writing, broadcasting and sharing — in glowing terms – their discovery of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County.
One of the most recent high honors was being chosen as a 2016 Great American Main Street winner by the National Main Street Center, Inc., which annually selects the best of the best from among communities across the country, all of which are exceptional examples of how towns and cities should be managed and maintained.
Dahlonega was chosen because “Dahlonega’s downtown district, art galleries, restored theater and courthouse stand out in North Georgia, making Dahlonega a truly distinctive shopping and dining destination and a charming place to call home.” We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves.
The discovery of Dahlonega isn’t confined to awards. The proliferation of “best of” lists has become a cottage industry for media outlets that canvas their subscribers, in print and online, asking them to vote their recommendations. Time and again, Dahlonega is popping to the top.
Smithsonian Magazine just included Dahlonega in its top 20 “Best Small Towns to Visit” and we were among the top 10 “Best Historic Small Towns,” “Best Southern Small Towns,” “Best Small Town Weekend Escapes,” and “Best Summer Weekend Escapes” – all published and promoted by USA Today. Garden and Gun Magazine called Dahlonega a “Best Wine Town.”
Individually, local favorites like Paul Thomas Chocolates, LeVigne Restaurant at Montaluce Winery, Shenanigans Restaurant and Bourbon Street Grille are earning praise by being named “best ofs” – and that doesn’t even count the dozens of individual statewide, national and international wine awards being brought home by local wineries.
The business of festivals and events is one of those things that keeps Dahlonega top of mind, contributes to the destination’s overall energy and ambiance, and ultimately leads to all those folks saying nice things about us. You can pretty much count on something special going on in Dahlonega every month — usually around the third weekend – or in the case of Dahlonega’s Old Fashioned Christmas, starting in November and into January.
October brings great fall color and a huge festival celebrating Dahlonega’s heritage, the nation’s first major gold rush. Appropriately enough, the festival is called – wait for it… Gold Rush! It’s a nice, little weekend gathering of a couple hundred thousand people, October 15 and 16. The festival features music, art, crafts — and plenty of food, of course.
In November, Dahlonega’s environmental roots turn toward the business of saving hemlocks – those lovely, southern Appalachian trees that have been assaulted by pesky insects. Saving the hemlocks is the cause and music is part of the cure. Hemlock Fest takes place November 4, 5, and 6.
Some folks call the Friday after Thanksgiving “Black Friday.” In Dahlonega, it is just the opposite. That’s the day residents and visitors gather in downtown Dahlonega to watch as thousands of holiday lights are lit, bathing the Dahlonega Public Square in welcoming warmth, just as Santa Claus arrives to usher in the season.
It’s a busy place, Dahlonega!