Take a step back in time Oct. 13 and 14 with a visit to the Prater’s Mill Country Fair in Dalton. The fair focuses on mountain music, Southern foods, living history exhibits and the handmade crafts and original art of 165 talented artists and artisans.
Kids, and adults can learn so much from watching true artisans work. Craft demonstrations at the Fair include blacksmithing, spinning, quilting, woodcarving, and hand tufting, a cottage industry that evolved into the tufted carpet industry centered in Dalton. Everything at the fair is handmade of natural materials. This year’s festival includes 30 new or long missed exhibitors.
We attended the Fair several years ago when my sons were young. My brother came into town with his family and we went with my parents and in-laws. Everyone from two to 70ish had a great time.
At the fair, visitors can take self-guided tours of the operating gristmill, the country store, Shugart Cotton Gin and the Westbrook Barn complete with animals from Murray County Human Society. Across the road from the mill in the 1898 Prater’s store guests taste authentic Southern meals.
Elsewhere throughout the festival are specialty food vendors reminiscent of Appalachia, such as barbecue, catfish, jambalaya, apple cider, fried pies and churned ice cream. Food is always a fair highlight and there is plenty here to choose from.
Two of the highlights for my young boys were the pony rides. Families can also enjoy walking down the nature trail and educational exhibits including authentic Civil War relics and antique farm equipment. The Peach State Tractor Club has a large showing of restored antique tractors and is even raffling off a restored tractor on Sunday.
The farm equipment is located across the street from the main festival, so be sure to venture there too. This is also where you’ll find the pony and train rides, and the petting zoo for the kids.
My in-laws enjoyed sitting for a bit with the kids on their lap watching the stage shows. We saw everything from Appalachian-style clogging teams, country bands to gospel singers. And the entertainment isn’t just on the stage. On the Mill porch listen to rhythm bones and dulcimer players preform.
Prater’s Mill Country Fair Hours
Fair hours are 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $7 cash; military with ID plus children 12 and under enter free. There is no charge for parking or shuttle service. Visitors are urged to dress casually and wear comfortable shoes.
Directions to the Country Fair
Prater’s Mill is located on GA Highway 2, 10 miles NorthEast of Dalton and 30 miles South of Chattanooga, TN. Take I-75 to the Tunnel Hill-Varnell Exit #341, drive North 4.5 miles to the intersection with GA Highway 2 at Varnell, turn right (Dollar General) and continue 2.6 miles to the Mill.
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