Bear on the Square Mountain Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an auction, an artist marketplace and live music and storytelling.

“It’s hard to believe this much-loved festival started with a little cub getting stuck in a tree on the Square,” said Glenda Pender, founder and festival chair. “And now we’re planning our 25th event. Since the beginning, Bear on the Square has been a free event, run by volunteers who range from college students to retirees.”

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival will run April 14 and 15 at Dahlonega’s Historic Square. 

The festival aims to celebrate and preserve the culture of the Southern Appalachian region, including its music, art and crafts and folklife. 

The event will feature an Artist Marketplace, which will showcase juried work from more than 70 regional artists.

Every year, a local artist designs a logo for Bear on the Square. This year’s logo was designed by Alli Kirby. 

“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to create a piece for one of my favorite festivals,” said Kirby. “We look forward to being a part of Bear this year and hope the artwork will bring funding, life and awareness to this wonderful festival.” 

This year’s festival is also dedicated to the memory of long-time supporter and volunteer Leonard Gay who co-chaired the information booth for many years. 

“We are so grateful for our generous sponsors, volunteers and the community that have supported the festival since the beginning,” said Pender.  

Live auction 

The festival’s Live Country Auction will return to kick-off the event on April 14.

The auction will provide an opportunity to own an original sculpture of a bear carved out of the sycamore tree.

Local resident and sculptor Devante Young is carving a bear out of the tree trunk from a tree that was removed earlier this year. 

“This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to own a piece of Dahlonega history,” said Renee Conaway, festival co-chair. 

During the festival, Young will also be demonstrating his artistic skills and selling his pieces. 

Live music

The festival will feature the following musicians on the event’s main stage tent:

  • Mosier Brothers
  • Chuck Nation Band
  • BlueBilly Grit
  • Ugly Cousin
  • Thomas Cassell Band
  • Tom and Juli
  • Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin
  • Bells and Whistles
  • Curtis and Kim Jones Mountain Gypsy Music
  • Pick and Bow
  • John Grimm
Bear on the Square Mountain Festival
Credit: Supplied photo.

On Saturday evening, a contra dance will be held for all ages at 7:00 p.m. in the main stage tent featuring live music from the Glenda Pender Gold Town Pickers. 

Festival favorite, the Glenda Pender Gospel Jam, will also return on Sunday at 11 a.m.

The Bear’s Den 

In addition to jamming musicians, attendees can also enjoy storytelling, workshops and local wine and beer in the Bear’s Den. 

Storytelling will begin on the main stage tent at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday with an Appalachian Storytelling Sampler by Debbie From. 

Storytelling then moves to the Zack McConnell Stage in Hancock Park for the remainder of the day.

Numerous free workshops are avaliable on both days in Hancock Park and Woodrow’s Tent. Festival goers can learn about clogging, guitar, ukulele, singing and Irish music.

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival
Credit: Supplied photo.

The Bear’s Den offers alcoholic beverages for purchase. Food trucks will also be available alongside the park.

Admission to the festival is free. For more information about the Bear festival, click here

Rough Draft

Rough Draft Atlanta is the digital home of Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.