Weekend festival brings art, wine, music and new open container rules
This is a test. And it’s also a festival.
For the first time in Dahlonega’s modern history, of-age festival-goers will be able to enjoy alcoholic beverages while wandering the grounds of Hancock Park at the Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival.
“It’s a test,” said Letty Rayneri, festival director. “The City Council asked us to be a test run for festivals to see how this will work.”
That means patrons will be able to drink wine without fences or barriers holding them in, while there will be a volunteer keeping an eye on the park, a visible police car and heavy signage to let people know that they need to stay “on the grass” and not wander into the streets with an open container. “The city kind of left it up to us to determine how we’re going to monitor this and keep people in the park,” Reynari said. “So I thought we better have volunteers on hand, as well as make a lot of signs and have them all around the perimeter to help make sure people obey the rules.”
City Councilman Mitchell Ridley is excited to see it happen.
“It’s been brought up for some time now and we wanted to see how it would work,” he said. “They’ve got extra volunteers coming in and there will be no fencing, so as long as everyone stays in the park area to enjoy their wine, we’re really looking forward to it. This is something the citizens have been asking for it so I don’t see anything wrong with letting them be in the park. Frankly, I’m excited about it.”
There is much more than wine though at the third annual festival, which takes place this weekend, May 19 and 20,. The event will feature plenty of arts, crafts, live music and a new focus on culinary arts, featuring crafters of specialized gourmet foods.
“More than 50 carefully selected artists and crafters will provide creative products for purchase during the two-day event,” said Rayneri.
“Come and see a variety of unique handmade items and original artwork in downtown Dahlonega.” The Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday (the full music schedule is included at the end of this story).
The Wine Garden, located just behind the Square in front of Hancock Park, will be available and offering tastings for a large variety of wines. Tasting tickets include 16 ounces of wine, as well as a collectible festival wine glass for $30 and couples are welcome to share a tasting if they wish. Wine will also be available by the glass for $8 and visitors can also purchase their favorite wine by the bottle. Wine tastings begin on Saturday at 11 a.m. and on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Montaluce Winery is the Wine Garden sponsor, while Etowah Meadery (a Silver Sponsor), Habersham Vineyards & Winery, Kaya Vineyard & Winery, and Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery are all participating in this year’s festival.
On the Zak McConnell Stage at Hancock Park, popular jazz performers will entertain guests sitting inside the Wine Garden or in the provided table seating. Visitors can bring their own lawn chairs to sit and enjoy the free music, while also enjoying a glass of wine. Musical groups will feature jazz, blues, salsa and many other genres. Carl Pirone, Music Chair, noted that, “Performers from the region and Atlanta will rock the festival with groups like Little Big Band Atlanta, led by the multi-talents of Rick Harris. A previous favorite, Brookwood Split, will also perform again this year.”
A new group this year is Influencia do Jazz, known for their Brazilian style jazz. Many other groups are also returning to entertain festival goers. These free performances begin at noon each day and continue during festival hours. This year, the first hour of music each day will begin on the Visitors Center Plaza, while the other acts will be performing in Hancock Park throughout the day and into the evening.
As in year’s past, Chestatee Artists will donate artwork for the public to “win” in an Art Raffle. Participants can donate $5 for one chance to win, $10 for three chances or $20 for seven chances to have their name drawn. Drawings will take place a 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day and winners will be called to come to the Information & Art Raffle tent to select one of the 10 donated art items. Artists donating their artwork include: Holly Adams, framed original acrylic; Anna Elrod, ceramic Asian vase; Judy Linn, framed woodcut print; Sue Miller, framed limited edition print; Jami Pederson, ceramic tray; Oscar Rayneri, framed limited edition print; Tom Slavicek, leather pouch; Beth Stull, framed original acrylic; Charlotte Smith, decoupage glazed bowl; and Wanda Smith, framed original oil. These items can be previewed on the Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival Facebook page.
“Art Rocks” will give children an opportunity to express their creativity by painting river rocks. Giggle Monkey Toys is sponsoring this art activity inside their store, 104 Public Square North, on Saturday between 10 a.m. and noon, and again between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Children can paint two “rocks,” so they can take one home and add the other one to an “Art Rocks Garden” display for festival attendees to admire.
Visit the Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival Facebook page to preview works by festival artists and crafters. Information has also been posted with details on the wineries in the Wine Garden, on jazz performances, and on local business sponsors.
Free parking is available in the University of North Georgia’s Parking Deck, with easy access to the downtown square. A variety of parking lots are also available off the square. For more parking details see dahlonegadda.org/parking