Dahlonega, as most readers know, is the site of the first major gold rush in the United States, with the first major find in 1828. There are many different versions of the discovery floating around, but the true story is not known for sure. Documentation is sparse, so all we truly have are rumors and speculation. That being said, the land was well-known for its gold well before the 19th century. The Creek and Cherokee peoples had known about the gold inside the mountains for some time – as a matter of fact, the name of our little town comes from the Cherokee “ta-lo-ne-ga”, and later “da-lo-ni-ge-i” – both meaning either “gold” or “yellow” (in my research, I have found the definitions and spelling to vary slightly from source to source, so please forgive any mistakes). To learn more, head to our page about Dahlonega's Native American history.
Gold Rush is, at its heart, a celebration of Dahlonega during its gold-frenzied heyday. It’s a chance for the everyman to replicate the spirit of thousands of hopeful prospectors, intrepid souls who risked everything for a chance at finding their fortune – their golden ticket (if you’ll pardon the pun) to the good life for themselves and their families. Young and old alike catch “gold fever”, the classic American feeling that lies at the crossroads of risk, opportunity, and adventure.
On the surface, however, Gold Rush Days is just as special. Such fun events as Beard Growing and Hog Calling Contests (the former making this baby-faced writer feel slightly ashamed) and of course the celebrated Gold Rush Parade are only a small part of the festivities. Spectators will also enjoy events showcasing skills and hobbies mastered during the Antebellum period, have a chance to tour the old jail, eat delicious snacks and meals, and meet vendors of all kinds. Visitors will enjoy all the sights and experiences of Dahlonega and Gold Rush itself, while locals will appreciate the inclusion of a hometown Festival King, Queen, and Grand Marshal!
The Gold Rush Days Festival is an annual production of the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Jaycees – an organization dedicated to the betterment of the community largely through developing strong, morally upright servant leaders. The Jaycees estimate a turnout of 200,000 people for the weekend – we hope you’ll be one of them.