Bear on the Square, held in and around Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square, is an authentic Appalachian festival featuring bluegrass and old-time music, free music workshops and demonstrations, an old-time mountain dance, an open mic event, storytelling, a juried Artists Market Gallery featuring traditional mountain crafts and more.
While the 21st Annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23, any local will tell you that the festivities kick off on Friday afternoon, when musicians start gathering in the city square and acoustic jams form in every nook and cranny. Folks bring guitars, fiddles, mandolins, banjos, basses, dulcimers and more to join in country, bluegrass and old-time tunes. If you’re worried about having to carry your instrument around all day, fear not! The Bear on the Square Information Booth performs “Instrument Sitting” services and “just like a coat check at the fancy clubs,” you can leave your instrument and show your token later to pick it up.
By nightfall on Friday, the MainStage Tent gets fills up with folks there for the annual Live and Silent Country Auctions which serve as primary fundraisers for the festival. Enthusiastic attendees enjoy catered food, wine and music by Curtis Jones and Matt Mundy while entering bids on auction items which include works from local and juried artists participating in the Artists Marketplace and a variety of goods, services and experiences contributed by regional businesses, organizations and individuals. As the festival date approaches, a preview of items will be available online.
Saturday and Sunday are jam-packed with activities including local, regional and national artists who perform on the MainStage. The 2017 lineup includes The Georgia Crackers, Crooked Mile, Ugly Cousin, The Howlin’ Brothers, April Verch Band and Horsehoes & Hand Grenades. The Sunday Morning Gospel Jam hosted by Glenda Pender is a festival favorite and organizers suggest arriving at the MainStage Tent early if you want to get a seat.
The juried Artist Market Gallery features dozens of artists and artisans showing, selling and demonstrating their works. Storytelling at Bear spotlights the Southern Appalachian oral art of storytelling activities with a full schedule of participants throughout the weekend. Activities also include jams, a variety of Appalachian music workshops and dance exhibitions.
Visitors to Dahlonega for Bear on the Square are encouraged to check out some of the wonderful spots in the city including the Choice Street Arts Complex, the Holly Theatre, the 1884 Lumpkin County Jail and Museum and Dahlonega Gold Museum. Music fans should readhttp
Candice Dyer’s Georgia Music blog “Dahlonega’s Eclectic Mountain Music Scene is Pure Gold” for recommendations on music-oriented spots to seek out.