Since its beginning in 1996, Dahlonega’s Bear on the Square Mountain Festival has been faithful in offering events and activities consistent with its mission of celebrating the Southern Appalachian region’s music, art and folkways.
Granted, the crowds were smaller in the early years, and the events and activities were fewer. But, as the years have passed and the number of participants and attendees has increased, there have been numerous additions to the festival’s lineup. The 17th Bear festival, scheduled Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, in and around the Historic Public Square of the city in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, is no exception.
A brand new event will be an Open Mic event emceed by Neel Pender with Dave Moser handling the sound. This will be held at The Pavilion Stage at Hancock Park from 1:30-3:30 on the Saturday of the festival.
On Saturday and Sunday, expanded events and activities will include free Workshops, Jams, Demos & More; a free Children’s Program, and Storytelling.
The Workshops, Jams, Demos & More are an ambitious schedule of workshops and activities each lasting 45 minutes and held at three different locations: the Workshop Tent in Conner Memorial Park, the Pavilion Stage at Hancock Park, and Searcey Underground, which is downstairs in Hall Block (106 Public Square North). Scheduled workshops and activities range from organized jams, to workshops on subjects ranging from buck dancing and hambone, to singing and stringed instrument lessons.
The Children’s Program will run from noon until 3 p.m. on both weekend afternoons. The program will be presented by Moira Nelligan of the Nelligan School of Traditionsl Music in Decatur and will take place in the Workshop Tent in Conner Memorial Park. Another activity for children will be a toy-making booth on North Chestatee St., presented by The Home Depot of Dahlonega and run by local store associates.
Storytelling, which served to entertain, educate and build community for early Appalachian settlers, will be going on both days at the Crimson Moon Café. Participating storytellers will include Connie Chancey, Sandy Dillard, Steven Rhymer, Pat Shields, Esther Culver, Breyanne Culver, Betsy Doty, Hannah From and Debbie Weston From.
Details and schedules of all of these events and activities can be found on the Bear on the Square website, along with information about other Bear happenings such as the MainStage performances, the jamming around the square, the Artist Marketplace, the Master Classes, the Gospel Jam, the Old-Time Mountain Dance, and the Live Country Auction/Silent Auction.