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REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page.

15th Annual HemlockFest! Saving our beloved endangered Trees + Adventure, Live Music & optional Camping

The Basics:
Event Type:Volunteer
Event Location: ~60 mi. north of Atlanta, via GA-400 near Dahlonega   Volunteer: 15th Annual HemlockFest!  Saving our beloved endangered Trees + Adventure, Live Music & optional Camping  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Fri, Nov 1 2019  5:00 pm >> Sun, Nov 3 2019 3:00 pm
Registration Opens: Sun, Oct 6 2019 12:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Nov 1 2019 12:00 pm
Event Duration:All Weekend! Come & go as you please, Fri midday thru Sun PM.
Difficulty Rating:D1: Easy
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
Email Trip Leader(s)
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:20
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 7 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


IN A NUTSHELL: For many years Atlanta Outdoor Club members have enjoyed this amazing outdoor music and environmental education festival which benefits our beloved endangered native trees - esp. the Eastern Hemlock and the American Chestnut.  We urge you to take part in this 15th Annual HemlockFest as a registered attendee and/or volunteer.  On the first weekend of November each year the festival is expertly produced and hosted by a key AOC partner organization, the Dahlonega-area "Lumpkin Coalition," and as usual we're promoting it as an official AOC "participation event."  Its gorgeous venue is the "Starbridge Retreat," a 50-acre private lakeside resort in the foothills of the Appalachians, only about an hour's drive north of Atlanta.  Dozens of incredible activities & entertainment acts are scheduled all weekend, including live music on Friday and Saturday from midday till midnight!   If you enjoy Camping you're welcome to camp with or near our AOC "subgroup" on Fri and/or Sat night - see the "Camping details" webpage link info below.  In lieu of spending the night it's equally OK just to Drive Up for the Day on Saturday and/or Sunday, etc. as hundreds of festival attendees do each year.

IMPORTANT REGISTRATION DETAILS!  HemlockFest is NOT organized or managed by the AOC and no funds are handled through our Club.  Each Festival attendee (for any or all of the 3 days and 2 nights of the Festival) needs to pre-register via the Festival website linked: 

For Festival details click the various topics listed on the above-linked home page.  If you register to Volunteer for various festival assignments, as many of us enjoy doing each year, your admission price will equate to only about a $5 per day parking fee.  Volunteers must pre-register for specific times (a.k.a. "shifts") and duties by going to the "Home" Dropdown Menu atop the Festival website's homepage and clicking "Volunteer."  On the "Volunteer" page hit "Click Here to Sign Up," which takes you to their "" volunteer signup screen and lets you register for any of the remaining shifts.  (If you want to Volunteer you should do this on SignUpGenius ASAP,!   The shifts fill up quickly and many were already full at the time this article was formally posted!)

Please ALSO register at the base of this article if you wish to be included in our AOC participant roster and for trip leader email updates, photo sharing after the event, and to be recorded in our Club archive writeups We festival "veterans" welcome your suggestions and questions and will be glad to assist you, esp. if you're a first-timer.  Each year we AOCers like to set up our folding chairs near one another on the lawn, about 100 feet out from the center of the Festival bandstand.  This is usually a good spot to hook up with one another, esp. on Friday and Saturday afternoon & evening when the most popular bands are playing.

LIVE MUSIC GALORE! + OTHER FUN and EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS:  The festival features an amazing lineup of fine musicians and bands all weekend performing live music on its outdoor stage, with plenty of seating on the huge lawn in front of the bandstand - in our own camp chairs and with warm festive "campfire barrels" burning all around us at night.  Other wonderful activities include guided nature walks, archery, tree-climbing, canoeing on Burgess Lake and much more - all virtually free of charge.  Experts are on hand to answer all your questions about the endangered trees.  Also there are a wide variety oexhibits, arts & crafts demonstrations, and a silent auction.  Festival merchandise and "auction items" include clothing, souvenir items, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, woodcarvings, furniture, Native American crafts, framed oil paintings, watercolors & nature photography - also potted hemlock saplings and herbs.

THE FESTIVAL'S worthy SAVE-the-TREES GOALS: The main goal of this delightful annual North GA mountain festival is to increase public awareness of the plight of our Eastern Hemlock trees and to facilitate methods of saving them for future generations.  Hemlock stands are among the only old growth forests in the east and are of great importance to wildlife, water quality, the economy, and our basic quality of life. Proceeds from the festival support means of combatting the destructive hemlock woolly adelgid, an Asian aphid-like insect that has already killed millions of these beautiful trees throughout the mountain regions of eastern America.  Some of the funds the festival raises also supports reintroduction into the wild of the almost-extinct American Chestnut.  Like the Hemlocks, millions of giant Chestnut trees once thrived throughout Appalachia and sadly were devastated in the early 1900s by a fungal "blight" that like the hemlock woolly adelgid was accidentally imported from Asia.  Decades of hard work by botanists and volunteers are producing specially bred American Chestnuts that are highly resistant to the blight.  The goal is to eventually repopulate Appalachia with the mature Chestnuts that are already beginning to grow from the hybrid seedlings.

CAMPING is available in the shady terrain on the hillside overlooking the main festival venue.  As discussed above it is included at no extra charge for those of us who earn a full-weekend pass (discounted to just $15) by volunteering in two or more shifts.  Click here for the festival's "Camping Info" webpage with all the rules and for a map of the campsite and the entire festival venue:

FESTIVAL  DINING and REFRESHMENTS:   Local restaurants have kitchens and covered dining areas set up on site with delicious food & refreshments available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.   Beer and wine are also available with proof of age.

2012 HemlockFest Photo:

Required Items to Bring:

- Comfortable Clothing and Footwear appropriate for the weather forecast.
- Gear of your choice including a lightweight Camp Chair (for enjoying the live music), a Headlamp for getting around safely at night, and if you're camping, a Tent (or Hammock System), Sleeping Bag, Pad, etc.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

- Compact Food & Drink Cooler with your favorite beverages, pre-prepared snacks, plenty of ice, etc. (This is totally optional since delicious food & refreshments can be purchased conveniently from the onsite vendors!)

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

DIRECTIONS to HEMLOCKFEST (Northward from the GA-400 / I-285 Interchange in metro Atlanta. It's only about a 1-hour drive with normal traffic.  A suggested spot for hooking up with friends for the drive is the Park & Ride lot at the GA-400 Mansell Rd exit in Roswell/Alpharetta - ~9 miles north of I-285.)

1. From the GA-400/ I-285 Interchange take GA-400 North about 47 miles to its official end at the GA-60 junction & traffic light near Dahlonega.
2. Continue straight ahead via "Long Branch Rd" (from the GA-60 traffic light) an additional 4.8 miles to the GA-52 junction.
3. Turn Right onto GA-52 East and drive just 1.5 miles to Starbridge Rd.
4.  Turn Left onto Starbridge Rd and look for the HemlockFest signs and volunteers.  They will facilitate your parking and entry into the festival. (Note that the entry gates are likely to be closed between about 1:00 am and 9:00 am each morning.)
5.  To hook up with other AOCers after you arrive:   During the live music gigs there are usually several of us in our camp chairs - usually about 50 to 100 feet out from the stage.  Also feel free to try reaching us via our mobile phones:  
Charlie: 404-921-4622. 

FOR an excellent ZOOMABLE MAP of the Hemlockfest venue click on the square blue & green "Event Location" icon near the top of this article. The "Satellite" view crosshairs are centered at our usual AOC seating spot on the lawn in front of the live-music stage.

GPS and USERS: Feel free to augment the above written directions by entering as your "Destination Address" the following Lat/Lon coordinates (as you would street address, being sure to include the comma and minus sign): 34.5203, -83.8957



* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.