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Gold Hill Founders Day unites Rowan County with diverse attractions

GOLD HILL — At the corner of Baptist Church and St. Stephens Church roads on Saturday, Mary Tinsley and Bonnie Tinsley gathered with Mary’s daughters, Clara and Rachel, to watch the Gold Hill Founders Day parade.

The Founders Day celebration has brought together residents of Rowan and surrounding counties for 28 years. It started in an effort to generate money for Gold Hill Mines Historic Park.

Over the years, the celebration has grown in participation and attendance, which explains why the Tinsley family was in position as the parade started.

The Tinsleys were nothing but smiles as they watched the spectacle pass. Mary Tinsley is a school counselor at the local Morgan Elementary School, and she spotted several familiar student faces as the floats passed.

“This is a really awesome way for the community to get together,” she said. “… It brings people from the school. I’ve seen a ton of my kids here from school but then brought my own children. It’s a little bit of everything. That’s what I love about it.”

Bonnie Tinsley agreed, saying she looked forward to seeing the rest of the attractions the celebration had to offer.

“We love our community. It’s wonderful to support local,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The parade’s participants represented a wide array of causes, pastimes and businesses. The Stanly County Shriners were out with their Hillbilly Tour Bus. Cooper Australian Shepherds had a float of dogs wagging tails rather than hands, and Buckle and Bell, a new shop in Gold Hill Village, walked stuffed animals on leashes.

Attractions, both preceding and following the parade, were equally as diverse.Hayrides, a Civil War skirmish re-enactment by the 63rd N.C. Troops, gold panning and a bluegrass mini-fest hosted by the N.C. Bluegrass Association were joined by a multitude of craft and food vendors.

Flint-knapper Greg Fisher and his sister, Greta Hatley, were among the vendors, peddling their handmade wares. Hatley crafts old-timey wooden toys, and Fisher carves arrowheads and knives out of obsidian.

For two artisans specializing in techniques of yesteryear, Gold Hill Founders Day offered an opportunity to share more than their products. They were sharing history as well.

“Kids have no idea about this stuff,” said Hatley, “We’re talking about history here, and I like to bring that out.”

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