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‘So much to offer’

Festival aids tourism efforts in north Georgia

POSTED: June 15, 2011 4:00 a.m.
Michele Hester Dawson Community News/

Senia May Zajac, with mother Kara Zajac, has her first encounter with a Giant African Spurred Tortoise.

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There's no place like home, according to local tourism professionals who spent Saturday peddling dozens of "stay" and "day"-cation opportunities in the north Georgia Mountains.

"With gas prices the way they are, three day trips and ‘day'-cations have become very popular," said Marty Williams, vice president for travel and tourism for the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.

"North Georgia has so much to offer."

Sponsored by the chamber, the inaugural Mountains on My Mind Festival featured more than 30 vendor booths offering information, presentations and demonstrations on nearby destinations and activities.

Nearby tourism sites like the Len Foote Hike Inn near Amicalola Falls State Park, a petting zoo from Cleveland and local outfitters offering outdoor excursions were among the booths.

"I was real happy for the first year. I think we had good representation from different counties," Williams said.

"It wasn't just all things to do in Dawsonville, but all up and down Hospitality Highway."

Organizers said they hoped to capitalize on the traffic by holding the event at the chamber's office off Ga. 400, just north of Hwy. 53.

According to transportation figures, more than 25,000 motorists a day travel Ga. 400, which is known as Hospitality Highway.

"From a regional standpoint, we're located perfectly for those driving north to the mountains," Williams said. "The intent is to capture those travelers. So many people don't know what all we have up here."

Robin Butler of Forsyth County said she had planned early last week to attend the festival and was looking forward to finding a few destinations to take her family.

"I like to see what's going on in the area and I know there will be even more vendors here next year, too," she said.

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