My trip to the Dahlonega, GA Literary Festival

10 Mar


The Dahlonega Literary Festival

This past weekend I traveled to Dahlonega, GA for the Dahlonega Literary Festival. I had a wonderful time, traveled through some beautiful country, met some wonderful writers, and met some dedicated and inspiring “Aspiring” writers.

Let me first begin with the travels. I drove from Paragould, Arkansas, to Dahlonega, Georgia, driving through Jackson Tennessee, taking a loop through Franklin, TN, skipping Nashville, after passing through Chattanooga, I cut off at Dalton, Ga. And took US76 and then GA 52 through Ellijay to Dahlonega.

This route skirts the edge of the north Georgia mountains that I had never seen before. By the time I hit Dalton, it was dark, and the mountain vistas provided a special beauty as I watched the glimmering lights of life twinkling miles below in the canyon valleys. Eighteen miles west of Dahlonega is Amicalola Falls State park where I spent the night sleeping in the back seat of my truck. This was a minor inconvenience caused by my delay in reserving a hotel, but it also seemed to add to the experience. I couldn’t see the park in the dark, but travelled up to the lodge, which was awesome, and was told just to go park under a tree away from the lights and I’d be okay.
The next morning I was awake before dawn and traveling on to Ellijay. I didn’t have my camera, and I missed some tremendous opportunities. Being an old turkey hunter I had to stop at the top of several ridges and give a hoot-owl hoot down the mountain to see if I could get a turkey to gobble, and I was not disappointed.
Dahlonega is an historic college town with a town square laid out in the 1830’s. The town was a part of Georgia’s historic gold rush and one can still pan for gold in the area. The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is nearby at Amicalola, so the area seems to have a robust tourist economy as well as the steady presence of North Georgia College and University. The downtown area was littered with excellent, though a bit pricey, restaurants.

Ken Smoke and the folks at the Catholic Church did an excellent job of hosting and taking care of the needs of the writers. We had a good, though small turnout of readers and sight-seers. I served on a panel that talked about writing in general and experiences as a writer, and I was impressed with the questions and response.

If I had a criticism of the conference, it would be the lack of knowledge of the local community about the affair. Every place I went to eat or buy supplies, I mentioned I was attending the conference. Of the many locals, I met one that knew of the conference. Perhaps a bit more effort could be made to advertise the conference locally and to enhance its status as a local event. But that is not a criticism as much as a suggestion for the future.

I left early Sunday morning to return to Paragould, and arrived at Amicalola around 7:30. I paid the five buck fee again and travelled through the park and finally got to see its beauty in the daylight. I hiked to the base of the falls and then drove to the top of the falls. Beautiful. Majstic, Humbling. Awe-inspring. All words that came to mind. Then I enjoyed an eight dollar breakfast buffet at the lodge. The buffet included fresh fruit, drinks, any type of breakfast food you wanted, and even eggs cooked to order. It was an excellent value!

The rest of the trip home allowed me to see the mountains in the daylight and the beautiful apple orchards that populated the north Georgia terrain. Apparently the peaches are further south, but I’d love to return to Georgia during the apple harvest and bring back several bushels to put in the freezer of T-giving and Christmas.

Chattanooga is beautiful in the daytime or nighttime, and the trip through Franklin is always delightful. But on this trip I loved coming off the final ridge near Dyersburg and seeing the Mississippi River Bridge in the distant haze. The sun had set to where its bottom touched the top of the trees that lined the distant river bank, and by the time I reached the bridge, it had set below the horizon. But the haze of the distant river reminded me of those dog-days of summer coming soon.

            I will be returning to Georgia in June for the Southeastern Writer’s Conference on St. Simon’s Island, and then in August at the Decatur Book Festival. I am excited to see more of Georgia.

            Perhaps now, for the first time in my life, I truly understand the lyrics of the old song “Georgia on my mind.”


One Response to “My trip to the Dahlonega, GA Literary Festival”

  1. Kelly Boyer Sagert March 11, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    Sounds as though you saw plenty of beautiful scenery, round trip, which is a real bonus. I’d be tempted to stop at historical spots along the way!

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