With thousands of visitors descending on Dawsonville this weekend for the 45th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival, local authorities are encouraging motorists to plan their routes and avoid the downtown area if not attending the festival.
"We've made several changes in road closures for this year's festival," said Greg Rowan, with the Dawson County Sheriff's Office.
There will be barricades set up at Perimeter Road on Hwy. 9 South to detour motorists not planning to attend the festival.
There will also be barricades on Shoal Creek Road directing traffic onto Perimeter Road and also at Tucker Avenue.
Motorists on Shoal Creek Road will only be allowed to turn right at Tucker Avenue between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The detour to Hwy. 9 South will be at Maple Street West. Take Maple Street West to Howard Avenue and turn left. Exit Howard Avenue right at Hwy. 9 South. Motorists will not be allowed to turn left onto Hwy. 9 from Howard Avenue.
Travelers also will not be allowed to turn left onto Howard Avenue from Hwy. 9 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The road will remain one way during these times.
New this year, Academy Avenue, from West 3rd Street to Hwy. 53 East will be closed during the festival.
To help alleviate some of the traffic, the following suggestions should be considered:
To bypass the festival if traveling from the west side, take Hwy. 53 East and turn right at Maple Street West, follow to Howard Avenue and turn left. Howard Avenue ends at Hwy. 9 South. Only right turns will be permitted.
Motorists traveling from the Amicalola area wishing to avoid the festival traffic should take Hwy. 136 to Hwy. 9 North or on to Ga. 400.
Those coming from areas north of Dawsonville, such as Lumpkin or White counties, to attend the festival should consider using Ga. 400 and exiting at Hwy. 136. Turn right onto Hwy. 136 and follow it to Hwy. 9, turn left and then follow it into Dawsonville.
Those coming from Atlanta, or any location south of Dawsonville, should head north on Ga. 400 and turn left at Dawson Forest Road. Follow Dawson Forest to the intersection of Hwy. 9 and turn right. Follow Hwy. 9 into Dawsonville.
More than anything, local authorities are asking everyone to minimize usage of Hwy. 53 from the intersection of Ga. 400 north on these days.
This road often fills to capacity and that creates long lines.
"By about 1 p.m., Hwy. 53 is bumper to bumper all the way into Dawsonville, so unless you're planning to go to the festival, avoid the area," Rowan said.