One of the Southeast region’s most visited Fall
eventis the Prater’s
Mill Country Fair. A family-friendly jaunt through history, the festival
is centered around the old water-powered, still-operating gristmill which
was established in 1855 to grind wheat into flour and corn into meal.
The Fair has grown into a celebration of music, Southern food, history
exhibits and handmade crafts and original art created by over 185 talented
artists and artisans. Live demonstrations include blacksmithing, quilting,
woodcarving, rug hooking and hand tufting, the precursor to the famous
tufted carpet industry of Dalton, Ga.
Additionally, educational exhibits of interest include a living Civil
War encampment, antique engines in operation, and handcrafted beadspreads
In addition to self-guided tours of the mill, visitors may also enjoy
shopping in the country store, checking out the Shugart Cotton Gin or
acquainting themselves with farm animals at the Westbrook Barn. The whole
family can experience canoe rides on Coahulla Creek or take a short hike
down the nature trail, and pony rides are always at the top of kids’ to-do
A continuous entertainment schedule on two stages offers traditional
fare such as Appalachian Style clogging exhibitions, country bands, and
gospel singers as well as a contingent of wandering musicians and storytellers.
In many minds, the highlight of the Fair is the food. While the Dalton
Pike Church of God serves authentic Southern dishes near the 1898 Prater’s
store (located just across the road from the mill), other favorites are
served at various points on the festival grounds. These include delicacies
such as pit-cooked barbecue, fried apple pies, North Georgia apple
cider, and even fresh-churned ice cream.
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 regional event.
Fair hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $7, children 12 and under enter free. There is no charge
for parking. Visitors are urged to dress casually and wear comfortable
Prater’s Mill is located on Georgia Hwy. 2, 10 miles northeast
of Dalton and about 30 miles south of Chattanooga, Tenn. Interstate travelers
should take I-75 to the Tunnel Hill-Varnell Exit No. 341; drive north
4.5 miles to the intersection with Georgia Hwy. 2 at Varnell; turn right
and continue 2.6 miles to the Mill, a total distance of 7 miles from
For more information or to inquire about sponsorship and volunteer opportunities
call 706-694-MILL (6455) or visit PratersMill.org.