Monday, April 18, 2011

Bear on the Square

Every year for the past 15 or so years, the third weekend of April has been dedicated to celebrating the life of a small bear cub found wandering around the town Square in Dahlonega,Ga. The bear is probably dead by now, and knew nothing of his infamy. His mammy probably gave him a dope slap or two going where he had been forbidden to go. My mama had to do the same on more than one occasion.

The Bear on the Square Festival was the brainchild of Glenda Pender a and her late husband, Nick. They envisioned a gathering of musicians and true Appalachian crafters and artisans around the Dahlonega Gold Museum. The museum houses memorabilia from what was the first gold rush in America. Dahlonega was the site of first Federal Mint established away from Philadelphia. It's a pretty. old brick courthouse set on an old town square. Perfect for the festival Nick and Glenda put together. It's become the seditious hot bed of Old Time and Blugrass in North Georgia. We had people from FL, PA, VA NC SC MS AL, all wanting to get out in the spring air and play some tunes. I was not warm on Saturday, people.

There were many amongst us wanted to come out of hibernation all at once...in shorts T shirts and sandals, a bit iffy in the foothills of North Georgia in mid April. I saw a lot of chattering teeth, blue legs, and whining. I wasn't warm enough for me to play music, and I came dressed for it. I have learned something about weather in my years in West Virginia. It'll fool you every time! Especially in the spring...if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes.

Festival goers leave Atlanta. The flatlands, where the sun could be shining and it's 20 degrees warmer. They drive 60 miles into the mountains and expect the heat to be on. That's what clothes are for this time of year, people. A couple of us sit in the pottery booth in bluejeans and fleeces, with a cup of coffee and watch the Frigids walk by. That's what I call 'em. They are not interested in buying ANYTHING but appropriate clothing...which they have at home. Good for the outfitters, bad for the artists.

The magic temperature is about 50...that's the temperature the fiddle cases open. The fiddles aren't happy about getting out in the cold air. They complain bitterly by refusing to stay in tune. Banjo players have solved the problem by investing in plastic heads that aren't affected by weather...' course banjos aren't really instruments, they're machines.

Eventually, at about noon, it's 60 degrees and  the music begins rock. The sun begins to heat things up and everyone looks for shade and the instruments complain once again...about being in the shade.  But who cares. Time to loosen up the fingers, find your voice, see old friends, trade stories about the winter, inquire about what strings people are using,  trade an instrument, or two, show off a new one...just be people having fun after a long cold winter in the South.

Pottery? what pottery, there's music to play. IT"S SPRING AGAIN!

Winter in the South...my West Va friends always get a chuckle out of that!

1 comment:

  1. On October 31, 2005 I was doing an inspection job on top of Walnut Mountain near Ellijay, GA. I had the truck radio on WSB Atlanta and the weather lady said that it was a sunny 48F and the radar was clear. As I was finishing my work, I knew that I needed to get off the mountain soon, 'cause it was 32F and snowing steady. Flat land weather, "Yes indeedy" as Grannie used to say.

    BB

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