Granted, many people attend the annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Ga., for the music. But the annual festivities, which drew approximately 50,000 people last spring to the picturesque town in the foothills of North Georgia’s mountains, offer a whole lot more.

As in past years, an impressive lineup of Appalachian artists, as well as demonstrators and dance teams from the John C. Campbell Folk School, will highlight the Saturday and Sunday activities at the 2010 Bear on the Square festival’s Mountain Marketplace.

The upcoming 14th annual festival, scheduled Friday through Sunday, April 16-18, will benefit from having the renowned John C. Campbell Folk School as Marketplace sponsor for the second consecutive year. Open on Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., the marketplace will have a John C. Campbell Folk School section along North Park Street. In this area will be a tent where the work of the folk school’s demonstrating artists as well as work from the school’s Craft Gallery will be available for purchase. Those artists from the folk school who will be demonstrating their work include Jan Stansell, basketry; Helen Gibson and Carolyn Anderson, woodcarving; Mike Lalone, clay; Paul Garrett, blacksmithing; Joe Kilmer, chairmaking; and Nancy Jones, gourd art.

In addition, several Campbell Folk School dance teams will perform from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday only at the plaza in front of the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Visitors Center on South Park Street. Dance teams will include the Stix in the Mud Border Morris, Rural Felicity Garland, and Dames Rocket Northwest Clog Morris.

More information about the Campbell Folk School, located in Brasstown, N. C., is available at www.folkschool.org.

From an overall standpoint, the Mountain Marketplace will once again be made up of a remarkable collection of one-of-a-kind, handmade art and crafts. Held around the Historic Public Square in Dahlonega, it will continue its tradition of presenting the juried work from an impressive group of top quality artists.

Returning to the Marketplace this year is North Georgia folk artist Billy Roper, Heritage Sponsor for the festival, who plans to both exhibit and demonstrate his work. In all, there will be some 30 artists, including 10 who are new to the Bear on the Square Marketplace and 20 returning artists. There will also be a booth from the SouthEastern Bluegrass Association (SEBA).

Other booths will contain a wide selection of work from painters, including several folk artists, a blacksmith, crochet artists, a broom maker, furniture makers, a gourd artist, honey and soap makers, mixed media artists, a musical instrument maker, a pencil drawing artist, a photographer, potters, quilt makers, a stained glass artist, wood carvers, and exhibits from major sponsors of the festival.

A description of other Bear on the Square major events; schedules of things to see and do including Mainstage Tent music performances, the popular Gospel Jam, the old-time Mountain  Dance, the Live Country Auction, family activities, and music workshops; biographical information and photos of the music headliners, and listings of all participating artists and festival sponsors can be found at www.bearonthesquare.org. Corporate sponsor for the third straight year is Jim Ellis Audi of Atlanta.

This year’s Bear on the Square festivities will kick off with the first session of Master Class Workshops at 10 a.m. Friday morning.  Later that day, jamming around the Historic Public Square by local and visiting musicians will begin and will continue day and night throughout the weekend.

Friday night, the annual Live Country Auction, featuring extensive Appalachian folk art and crafts from many of the Marketplace artists and specialty items from Dahlonega shops and restaurants, will be held in a large tent in Hancock Park. Folk artist Billy Roper is donating four paintings and a wood carving to this year’s auction. Attendees will enjoy music from BlueBilly Grit prior to the start of bidding.

Performances by the Mainstage music headliners will take place on Saturday and Sunday at the MainStage Tent in Hancock Park with the lineup including Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys, The Dixie Bee-Liners, Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz with Kari Sickenberger, Curtis Jones & Mountain Gypsy Project, and John Lilly, as well as other acts.

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, Inc., which stages the festival each year, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit cultural arts organization with the mission of preserving and celebrating the culture of the Southern Appalachians through the presentation of music, traditional craft, and folkways. Tax deductible donations are welcome and can be sent to P.O. Box 338, Dahlonega, GA 30533.

Photos from top:

GOURD CHICKENS were created by Mountain Marketplace artists Tim and Karen Chambers of Highlands, N. C.

MORRIS DANCERS from John C. Campbell Folk School are expected to perform at the 14th annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega.

ALABAMA FOLK ARTIST Maurice Cook, who produced this painting, will return for this year’s Mountain Marketplace at Bear on the Square.

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Jimmy Booth

Jimmy Booth

Lifelong Georgia resident Jimmy Booth, who was a longtime Atlanta area journalist and public relations consultant, moved in fall of 2006 from Peachtree City, Ga., to Dahlonega, Ga. He and his wife Margo have become involved with several Dahlonega-based not-for-profit cultural arts and historical organizations working to keep alive the traditional mountain music, art and folkways which are a vital part of the area's heritage. Jimmy graduated from Emory University, where he served as editor of The Emory Wheel. During his journalistic career, he worked as publisher or editor of several Georgia weekly and small daily newspapers, and he was a section editor for The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Now officially retired, he handles publicity for some of the events and organizations in the Dahlonega area.