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Prater's Mill Country Fair, Oct. 13-14
Fall is in the air and it is time for the Prater’s Mill Country Fair October 13 and 14 at the old water-powered mill near Dalton, Georgia, which still grinds corn and wheat the old-fashioned way. The fai is always on the second full weekend in October.
Begun by volunteers in 1971 to raise funds to restore the 1855 mill and surrounding buildings, the rural festival offers fine art, handmade crafts, and Southern folklore. The event is a featured destination in the National Geographic MapGuide to Appalachia, www.nationalgeographic.com/appalachia.
The Prater’s Mill Country Fair focuses on mountain music, Southern foods, living history exhibits and the handmade crafts and original art of 200 talented artists and artisans. Crafts demonstrations include blacksmithing, quilting, wood carving and hand tufting, a cottage industry that evolved into the tufted carpet industry centered in Dalton.
At the fair, visitors take self-guided tours including the operating grist mill, the country store, Shugart Cotton Gin and Westbrook Barn, complete with farm animals and a petting zoo. Across the road from the mill is the 1898 Prater’s Store. In a cabin near the store, Dalton Pike Church of God members serve authentic Southern meals of chicken and dumplins, collard greens and cornbread cooked on a wood stove. Elsewhere throughout the festival area are other specialties, such as pit-cooked barbecue, apple cider and churned ice cream.
During the fair, families enjoy canoeing on the Coahulla Creek and pony rides for the children. Educational exhibits include working antique tractors, antique cars and “Peacock Alley,” a clothesline display of handtufted bedspreads. Continuous entertainment on stage Appalachian style clogger, a wild animal presentation, the play “The Legend of Charles Prater”, as well as c ountry and gospel artisits. Wandering musicians, dulcimer players and storytellers perform through the festival area.
The Prater’s Mill Country Fair is sponsored by the Prater’s Mill Foundation, a nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to historic preservation and education.Thirty-seven civic clubs, churches and schools also participate in the community event.
Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $7.00, children 12 and under free. Visitors are urged to dress casually and wear comfortable shoes. Parking is free.
Prater’s Mill is located on Georgia Hwy 2, ten miles northeast of Dalton, about3 0 miles south of Chattanooga, TN. Interstate travelers should take I-75 to the Tunnel Hill-Varnell Exit #341; drive north 4.5 miles to the intersection with Hwy 2 at Varnell; turn right and continue 2.6 miles to the mill, a total distance of 7 miles from I-75.For more information, call 706-694-MILL (6455) or e-mail pratersmill@ PratersMill.org. Visit the web site at PratersMill.org.
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