The 45th annual Prater’s Mill Country Fair, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8-9, offers mountain music, Southern foods, living history exhibits and the handmade crafts and original art of 185 talented artists and artisans. Craft demonstrations include blacksmithing, spinning, quilting, rug hooking, woodcarving and hand tufting, a cottage industry that evolved into the tufted carpet industry centered in Dalton, Ga.
At the fair, visitors take self-guided tours of the operating gristmill, the country store, Shugart Cotton Gin and the Westbrook Barn complete with farm animals. Across the road from the mill in the 1898 Prater’s store guests taste authentic Southern meals. Elsewhere throughout the festival are other specialties such as pit-cooked barbecue, apple cider, fried apple pies and churned ice cream.
Prater’s Mill Country Fair
Where: 5845 GA-2, Dalton, Ga.
When: Saturday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 9, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $7 for adults, children 12 and under free.
During the fair, families enjoy canoeing on the Coahulla Creek, a walk down the nature trail and pony rides for children. Educational exhibits include an authentic Civil War encampment, working antique engines and “Peacock Alley,” a clothesline display of hand-tufted bedspreads.
Continuous entertainment on stage features Appalachian-style clogging teams, country bands and gospel singers. Wandering musicians, jugglers, dulcimer players and storytellers perform throughout the festival area.
The Dalton Pike Church of God serves authentic Southern dishes – chicken and dumplings, collard greens, and corn bread cooked on a wood stove – near the 1898 Prater’s store (located just across the road from the mill). Other regional favorites are served at various points on the festival grounds. These include delicacies such as John’s Family pit-cooked barbecue, Cochran Family fried apple pies, North Georgia apple cider, and even fresh-churned ice cream.