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Lighting of the Fall Fires sells out with 600 tickets sold

Just as a fire starts out small and gets bigger and bigger, the Lighting of the Fall Fires event grows every year.

Gold Hill kicked off the holiday season with its 15th annual Lighting of the Fall Fires on Saturday.

There were close to 600 tickets sold this year, which was just about the amount of people the event could handle, said Vivian Hopkins, vice president of the Historic Gold Hill and Mines Foundation, Inc.

“People really enjoy enjoying a slower pace. We’ve got people who drive two hours to get here to come to this event,” Hopkins said. “It’s such a fast-paced world in the city and to come out and find something like this, it’s unlike anything else. It’s just a nostalgic change of pace.”

On Saturday night, families, friends and couples, old and young, enjoyed a walk through Historic Gold Hill at Gold Hill Village. There were 18 stops along the walk.

There was a trolley to help get people to the village. There was also a jingle bell-clad horse and buggy ride.

The event started in 2000 to commemorate the restoration of the town. Originally founded in the 19th century as a gold mining boomtown, Gold Hill was later abandoned when the gold industry ended. Since then, the town has gone through a reawakening, while still keeping it’s old-fashioned charm and appeal.

After exchanging their tickets for brown sacks of gold nuggets, which were actually just gold-colored rocks, attendees walked all around the Historic Village. Each shop had something, usually finger foods, to give attendees in exchange for a gold nugget.

Shops were decked out in all of the holiday trimmings, including lights, wreaths with red bows and Christmas ornaments. The owners and employees of the shops were dressed in vintage clothing to keep with the old-timey theme of the event.

The different shops that participated included the Montgomery General Store, which had a line out of the door for a taste of Hopkins’ chicken and dumplings, Mauney’s Antiques serving piping hot apple cider and the Filling Station Artist’s Studio, where attendees received jingle bell necklaces.

Merchants said the event is a great way to get people to visit their shops and see what they have to offer.

There were also different bluegrass performers playing music at different stops.

“It’s just a fun, festive way to start the holiday season. We enjoy coming and spending family time,” five-time attendee Ann Shepard, from Salisbury, said.

Diana Holshouser, from Faith, said the event reminded her of her childhood.

“I like the ambiance of it being at night and the Christmas decorations, the Christmas music,” she said. “It’s a nice memory to share with my daughter.”

“It’s good for the locals to come out and explore and use their nuggets,” said Cassidy Holshouser, Diana’s daughter.

Attendees also enjoyed Brunswick stew, filled with plenty of barbecue pork, lima beans, tomatoes and corn, while warming themselves by either one of the two bonfires.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Gold Hill Historic Preservation Society, the organization that organized the event.

Hopkins said that without Arlene Kessler, the vice president of the Gold Hill Historic Preservation Society who spearheaded the event, and the different shop merchants who participated, the night could not have happened as smoothly as it did.

“I really think people love this little community. It’s unlike anything else in North Carolina, or you could almost say on the east coast,” Hopkins said.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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