From Prater's Mill Country Fair Website:After almost 150 years of serving communities in northwest Georgia, Prater's Mill has been named an American cultural legacy by the United States Library of Congress.
Built in the mid 1800's, the water-powered grist mill is now the centerpiece of a country fair that showcases the cultural history of Southern Appalachia. The fall Prater's Mill Country Fair will be held Columbus Day weekend.
The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., developed the Local Legacies Project to document the cultural richness of American communities at the turn of the 21st century. Historical photographs, papers, oral histories and musical recordings that tell the story of Prater's Mill will be placed in the nation's library as well as in the University of Georgia Library in Athens.
The Prater's Mill Country Fair focuses on mountain music, Southern foods, living history exhibits and the handmade crafts and original art of 185 talented artists and artisans. Craft demonstrations include blacksmithing, spinning, quilting, rug hooking, woodcarving and hand tufting, a cottage industry that evolved into the tufted carpet industry centered in Dalton, Ga.
At the fair, visitors take self-guided tours of the operating gristmill, the country store, Shugart Cotton Gin and the Westbrook Barn complete with farm animals. Across the road from the mill in the 1898 Prater's store the Dawnville Community Club serves authentic Southern meals of pinto beans, turnip greens and dried apple stack cake. Elsewhere throughout the festival are other specialties such as pit-cooked barbecue, apple cider, fried apple pies and churned ice cream.
During the fair, families enjoy canoeing on the Coahulla Creek, a walk down the nature trail and pony rides for children. Educational exhibits include an authentic Civil War encampment, working antique engines and "Peacock Alley", a clothesline display of hand-tufted bedspreads.
Continuous entertainment on stage features Appalachian-style clogging teams, country bands and gospel singers. Wandering musicians, jugglers, dulcimer players and storytellers perform throughout the festival area.
The Prater's Mill Country Fair is sponsored by the Prater's Mill Foundation, a non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to historic preservation and education. Thirty-nine civic clubs, churches and schools also participate in the community event. The hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Visitors are urged to dress casually and wear comfortable shoes. Parking is free.
Prater's Mill is located on Ga. Hwy 2, ten miles northeast of Dalton and 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 GA. Hwy. 2 at Varnell; turn rightand continue 2.6 miles to the mill, a total distance of 7 miles fromI-75.