By Ralph O. Dennis
Fall is a special time in north Georgia. It is a time looked forward to by many. The leaves are changing and bursting with color and it is festival time. Throughout the region, communities are having fairs and festivals. Talking Rock is no exception.
Talking Rock, the small town in north Pickens County, has its Heritage Festival. Always held on the third weekend of October it is special. What makes it special? The people in the town are the main ingredient. These folks take pride in their town and its history. The town was chartered in 1883 and has not changed much as far as its people are concerned.
Heritage Days is unique in several ways. First and foremost, it is free. Parking is free. They have a trolley and a bus to transport the festival-goers to and from the meadow parking lot. Or they can take a leisurely stroll through the park and enjoy the stream running along the banks of the park. The festival itself is on Main Street across from the Town Hall/Fire station building. The vendors are all different. All crafts must be handmade and the other booths are antiques. The antique dealers are on hand to compliment the antique shops wich already line Main Street.
As far as food vendors, the committee will only allow one of each type of food.. What you find is several non-profit organizations raising funds for their organization. These folks, whom you probably know, givesthe festival a personal touch.
The organizers have put a lot of thought into the “going ons” at the festival. Cheryl Sams, council member and former mayor, told the Progress that the festival started in 1995. It was begun to bring the community together in a time when there were no businesses in town.
She told us that the third weekend in October was chosen after much research. The research revealed that the third weekend in Georgia was the one weekend with the least rain. The community also decided it would be a good weekend to take advantage of the traffic on Hwy 515 going north to the other festivals.
Signs are placed along Hwy 515 to alert the travelers to the unique festival they are approaching in Talking Rock. The first year had three vendors and approximately 300 visitors. Since then the festival has grown. So far, for 2018 there are 45 booths and crowds anticipated to be between 6,000 and 7,000 (that was last year’s estimate). This is truly a community effort with the residents turning out in force as volunteers.
If you are a vendor and want a booth, visit the town’s website at www.talkingrockga.com/ for the form.
On Saturday, they bring in local blue grass groups and individuals for entertainment on the “main stage.” On Sunday, the festival visitors are treated to some good old fashioned, toe tapping, Southern gospel. They also have activities for the kids. The park is open for play time by the kids and the parents can rest in the shade by the stream.
The Heritage Days Festival was listed as one of the 13 top fall festivals in 2016. See the article online at www.onlyinyourstate.com/georgia/unique-fall-festivals-in-ga/.