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19th annual Lighting of the Fall Fires kicks off holiday season in Gold Hill

GOLD HILL — The 19th annual Lighting of the Fall Fires, an event made to kick off the holiday season in this rural community, was held Saturday along the 700 block of St. Stephens Church Road.

The event, hosted by the Gold Hill Preservation Society, aims to provide visitors with a 19th century experience and is loosely based on life in the mid-1800s. It began in 2000 in order to celebrate the rebirth and restoration of the mining town which laid in ruins after the gold mining industry left a century ago.

“Originally, it was designed to be an event to give thanks and thank a lot of people who had a huge part in helping with restoration of the town and park. … It has kind of blossomed since then and rolled over into a kickoff for the holidays here,” said Vivian Hopkins, co-owner of the Montgomery General Store in Gold Hill. “There’s so much to see.”

Guests were given a bag of “gold nuggets” to pay admission to each of the village shops, and were escorted by vintage trollies from the Russell-Rufty Shelter in Gold Hill Mines Historic Park. The event featured live music at multiple sites to help set the mood for the holiday season, and each guest had the opportunity to enjoy food samples at various shops. Carl White’s “Life in the Carolinas” 2019 Christmas special also filmed Saturday’s event.

The Windsong Recorder Ensemble performed at Gold Hill United Methodist Church and there was bluegrass music at Montgomery General Store, bluegrass/country music at Mama T’s Restaurant and performances from the Salisbury-Rowan Choral Society.

“It’s great to see people walk around and enjoy a piece of history and things you can’t find or see many places,” said Darius Hedrick, owner of the Mauney’s Store. “I am one of many that placed a lot of effort in bringing the village back. I think that the crowd is growing even in the rain.”

Bonfires and pot-bellied wood stoves in each of the shops were used to keep guests warm.

Hopkins gave a brief history of the site in an interview with the Post. E.H. Montgomery’s Store and Mauney’s store are two of the only original buildings left on site in Gold Hill, and everything else has been rebuilt or restored to recreate what Gold Hill was or might have been in the 1800s.

“This is a huge celebration that celebrates all of that,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins said she’s “looking forward to continuing the good will of providing the community spirit and gathering and bringing people together for years to come.”

Joyce Cavanagh-Wood, caroler with the Salisbury-Rowan Choral Society, said she was looking forward to signing, visiting shops and having some good food.

“This is my first time attending this event, and I’m excited about it,” said Hunter Safrit, artistic director for the Salisbury-Rowan Choral Society.

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