Arts and crafts festival brings thousands to Gold Hill

Published 12:10 am Saturday, July 29, 2023

GOLD HILL — Artisans from all around the area converged on Gold Hill to show off their wares during the Gold Rush Arts Festival on Saturday. The festival has been hosted since 2011 by the Gold Hill Merchant’s Association, whose membership is made up of owners from some of the stores in the village.

The event brought around 2,000 visitors to the small village in southeast Rowan County, according to Events Coordinator Sandy Hickman. Hickman also said that there were over 50 vendors who created a wide variety of homemade products. That has grown from the dozen vendors that the village hosted the first year of the event.

“We moved here in 2010 and that year it was called the Strawberry Festival, and the strawberries did not come in. And so in 2011 we switched it to the Gold Rush Arts and Crafts Festival, and so thats 11 years with one year off for COVID and it has blossomed,” said Hickman.

Hickman also pointed out that a few of the vendors put all of their earnings into non-profits. She specifically pointed to Fizzy Bath Bombs and Pawsitively Inspired. Cali and Cheyenne Rai Campos created Fizzy Bath Bombs and all of their profits from Saturday went to their charity, Giving Back Hugs, which buys backpacks and shoes for children that need them. Pawsitively Inspired sold scented candles and gives all their earnings to animal shelters.

Josh Flynn of Flynn’s Grill said that the day was the busiest they have had since they opened the restaurant. He and his wife Lynelle counted 347 people that ate at the restaurant itself, and Josh estimated that the family also sold over a hundred hot dogs at the cart they ran outside.

All of the shops in the village and Flynn’s Grill were open the entire day for the festival. One of the store owners, Amy Laws of Once In A Blue Moon, moved her store into town because of the festival itself. She first came as a vendor in 2017.

“Six years ago was the first time and then I did it the second year and then, I don’t know, I just fell in love with the town,” said Laws.

Darius Hedrick created the community over 30 years ago when he began to restore old buildings in the area and move them to create an authentic historic village. He credits Hickman with bringing the Gold Rush Festival up to its current size.

“She’s just tenacious when it comes to something I can’t even begin to do, details. Here’s what we’re doing here. Boom, we got to do this. We got to find places. We got to talk to people. So when the arts festival started we had like 10, 12 vendors and then the next year about 20 and now this year we had 58. And I can’t tell you how much effort and how much time goes into the events,” said Hedrick.

The next festival in Gold Hill is the Founder’s Day Festival on Sept. 23, held at the Gold Hill Mines Historic Park. Founder’s Day celebrates the history of the town and will bring in live music as well as a Little Miss and Little Mister Founder’s Day contest. The festival should also have over 80 art and crafts vendors according to Vivian Hopkins, the vice president of the Historic Gold Hill and Mines Foundation.