Dahlonega

Kendra Cowart

Kincaid, A Small Place, creative assignment

If you come here, you will, as you have expected, find that we are indeed simple. You are probably here for leisure, maybe on a field trip, but probably on a small vacation… yes, vacation. Maybe you are here because of the town’s history. Maybe because you hate living in the city. Nonetheless, you are here to step away from your normal routine. So, you have chosen my town as your own personal getaway for whatever messed up reason you might have. You wanted something quaint, something that’s not the normal Myrtle Beach, or Panama City, or if you’re lucky, Jamaica. No beaches today; you’ve tired out of those from the past summer. Besides, it’s autumn. Who would go to a beach in the middle of autumn? You want to embrace this season and find some place that is the epitome of an autumn postcard. Some place with multicolored leaves, lakes, ponds, streams, mountains… mountains. I want to get away… into the mountains, you think. It’s quiet but vivid, full of nice people, full of history, but at the same time simple. Nice and simple.

Plus, it is a low cost vacation. It is a place with genuine people; not a place like the city, where people pick-pocket you for every penny that you have. Not that you don’t have money to spare. However, this is your second, third, or forth vacation this year and you do need to save money for that additional Colorado trip that you plan to take this winter.

Some of the locals here don’t even have money for one vacation. They are not successful business people like yourself. They might be involved in a business or have a business, but here the economy is not booming like the hustling and bustling city. This town has a college, but even so, many residents still have not attended college. You imagine that they envy you, with your successful lifestyle, not significantly tied down to a family at home. They just try to make ends meet. You come to the town to throw your money in the air for a trip that you don’t really need! But, you work hard, right? Of course you do. In fact, your back seems rather stiff from being cooped up in that office for what seems like forever. You make a note to yourself to see the local spa while you’re here, when you look out of the window of the nice town car that you are driving. You notice the college…

It has a nice, big, golden dome. But, is that real gold, or something else? As you learn, it is indeed real gold! How odd, you think. Then you remember the history, part of what drew you to this small place. Small Town, Georgia: part of the first gold rush in America. Sure, our history is “neat,” but are we, the locals, actually grateful for this cultural enrichment? Maybe when the annual Gold Rush festival comes around (it’s our own version of county fair). But for the rest of year, we locals barely recognize it. You see, we just want a place to linger around on the weekends (other than the notorious Wal-Mart). A bowling alley would be nice, or a skating rink, or maybe a movie theatre that actual plays the latest movie. But that’s out of the question; it might distract from tourism, i.e. the economy. That’s at least what I’ve been told. But if tourism is such a big revenue, then why do locals constantly need more money? Perhaps because they are trying to keep up with you, the wealthy tourist.

So you get the idea that this town is small and simple. However, you will never know what it means to the individuals here. Most grew up here. Those that grew up here find that they can never leave because of their nagging families, or their inhibitions of trying something new. This town is our routine. It’s beautiful, but we don’t realize it. Leaf season isn’t magical; it’s annoying. We wish tourists would scat so that we could have this town to ourselves. Let us live our daily routines in peace. You tourists think it’s cute; we locals just see it as a small place.

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6 Responses to Dahlonega

  1. hsherlock says:

    I like the cynical, or is it realistic, tone of the essay. I agree with your Kincaid like observations about life in Dahlonega. It is always interesting to put yourself in the place of someone elses thinking and rationalizations. Dahlonega is not unlike thousands of other small towns that are dependent on the resources of outsiders. As a native Floridian that has lived in the area for 27 years I know the flip side of being both the blight and the “adopted native” who does not like all of the change the “other outsiders” bring with them. Aren’t we all so funny?

  2. holliealexis says:

    Blairsville is also a small town with many people who have lived here for generations. It is a small town where most people know each other. It is not that busy at all. There is not much traffic and the crime rate is low. It does not even have a college. Many retired people from Florida visit Blairsville in the fall. Most people in Blairsville are not that wealthy. The country just does not have a lot of the high paying jobs that you can find in the city. Blairsville has Fort Sorghum in October as its festival. There is not a lot to do in Blairsville, but many people live here anyway.

  3. kateshar says:

    Kendra, I found many of my own feelings expressed in your blog. Like you I also come from a small town in which the locals have to deal with tourists who want to take the scenic route to Savannah or Augusta. Another thing that is similar to your blog is that there are many individuals from my home town who also cannot afford a vacation. What you observe in your home town and the way that you describe it is very much like Kincaid does. You draw attention to the harm that the visitors have brought to Dahlonega much like the harm brought to Antigua during its colonization.

  4. kukookoko says:

    Kendra,
    I love the humor envoked within your description of the tourist town of Dahlonega. I have been there quite a bit considering my twin sister attends North Georgia College and State University. The annual Gold Rush, with the majority of the events being sponsored by the College, is a huge part of the towns tradition. It is always packed full of people from locals to parents coming up to visit their children for the weekend. It brings together the tourists with the locals and that is what makes it so special. Sharing the historical history of this small mountain town with newcomers. I do agree that tourists can get annoying especially when you have a destination to get to within a tiny town.

  5. I have been through Dahlonega several times over the years. I consciously choose to avoid taking part in any of the “touristy” attractions because I know what it is like to be a local and to have to put up with the ridiculousness that tourism often brings. The one thing that I enjoy seeing in Dahlonega is the Holly Theatre. I am very fond of theatre, and in order to enjoy and take part in it, I usually go to Blue Ridge. Occasionally, though, I can convince my parents to get tickets to the Holly. I like it there because they usually produce more musicals than other places. The last two shows I saw there were My Fair Lady and The Wizard of Oz. They were fabulous performances.

  6. babyhouse89 says:

    Wow, Kendra…so angry! I really felt your frustration toward the tourists in your town, which I assume is Dahlonega. The irony of the façade of the rich town versus the actual local economy moved me. I also liked the fact that you brought up the irony of the college town atmosphere versus the education of the locals. I can definitely relate to your situation because I also lived in a “tourist town” and a “college town” during different periods in my life. Both presented the same ironies and atmospheres as Dahlonega does to you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog!

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