DALTON, Georgia—Fall is in the air, & it’s time for the Prater’s Mill Country Fair October 12 & 13 at the old water-powered mill near Dalton, Georgia. We still grind corn the old-fashioned way! The fair is always on the second full weekend in October.
Begun by volunteers in 1971 to raise funds to restore the 1855 mill & surrounding buildings, the rural festival offers fine art, handmade crafts, & Southern folklore. The event has been a featured destination in the National Geographic Map Guide to Appalachia.
Historic Prater’s Mill is owned by the people of Whitfield County but operated and maintained by the Prater’s Mill Foundation. As a non-profit volunteer group, the foundation relies heavily on the revenue from the annual Country Fair. This is our primary fundraising event. All proceeds go back into maintaining the site. The mission of the foundation is to protect, preserve and present the heritage of the Prater’s Mill Site for future generations. For more information, visit pratersmill.org or call 706-694-MILL.
The Prater’s Mill Country Fair focuses on mountain music, Southern foods, living history exhibits, & the handmade crafts & original art of 170 talented artists & artisans. Crafts demonstrations include blacksmithing, quilting, wood-carving, weaving & hand-tufting, a cottage industry that evolved into the tufted carpet industry centered in Dalton.
At the fair, visitors take self-guided tours including the water-powered, operating grist mill, Shugart Cotton Gin, 1898 Prater’s Store, Doctor Lacewell’s Office, Caboose, Westbrook Barn, & Goodner-Smith Farm Collection. Across the road from the mill is the Prater’s Store. In a cabin near the store, Dalton Pike Church of God members serve authentic Southern meals of chicken & dumplings, collard greens, & cornbread cooked on a wood stove. Elsewhere throughout the fair are other specialties, such as barbecue everything, fried pies, apple cider, & churned ice cream.
During the fair, families enjoy pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, & “Little Texas” kids’ train ride. Educational exhibits include working antique tractors, antique cars, antique plows, & “Peacock Alley,” a clothesline display of hand-tufted bedspreads. Continuous entertainment will be on stage with Appalachian-style cloggers, as well as country, blue-grass & gospel artists. On the porch of the Mill, you can find dulcimer player Pat Bryant & grandchildren performing.
The Prater’s Mill Country Fair is sponsored by the Prater’s Mill Foundation, a nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to historic preservation & education. Twenty-five civic clubs, churches, & schools also participate in the community event.
Fair hours are 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Saturday & 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Adult admission is $7.00 cash per person per day for adults; children 12 and under, free; military with ID, free; parking & shuttle service, free. If you don’t have cash, we now have a card option. Text PMTIX to 44321 on your smartphone to purchase advance online tickets ($7.50), or visit pratersmill.org/fair/. Visitors are urged to dress casually & wear comfortable shoes.
Prater’s Mill is located on Georgia Highway 2, 10 miles northeast of Dalton, about 30 miles south of Chattanooga, TN. Interstate travelers should take I-75 to the Tunnel Hill-Varnell Exit #341; drive north 4.5 miles to the intersection with Highway 2 at Varnell; turn right (at Dollar General), & continue 2.6 miles to the mill, a total distance of 7 miles from I-75. Follow the signs.
For more information, call 706-694-MILL (6455) or visit pratersmill.org/fair/.