Here in a small North Georgia town of Gainesville, a fall festival is held each year called “Mule Camp Market.” More than 200 booths line up around the town square, a very nice town square with lots of local shops. In the center is a beautiful park area.
The festival began almost 20 years ago as an outdoor farmers’ curb market, and has expanded to an arts and crafts festival. Many locals from surrounding areas display their crafts, all kinds of wares by local artists and craftsmen. One young man displays his crafts made from old bottles. They are attractive items of sea horses, jellyfish, dragon flies and spiders. Other beautiful objects, like art created from home grown gourds, metal crafts for inside and outside the home, and handmade pottery, are showcased. Pottery making is a large industry here in North Georgia because of the availability of the red clay.
A local rock band entertains with music and the children enjoy wall climbing and  horseback riding. The festival features lots of great homemade food like fried apple pies, homemade candies and even chicken wing eating contests. There’s also local grown vegetables, fruits and nuts. There is something in the North Georgia soil that makes locally grown vegetables taste so good. I don’t know what it is, must be some mineral in the red clay.
The annual Mule Camp Market is sponsored by the local Jaycees and is a fundraiser for the Empty Stocking Fund, a volunteer organization that furnishes toys at Christmastime for those children whose families cannot afford them. It usually raises around $20,000 for the project.
Each fall time, all over North Georgia, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, many small towns hold fall festivals. One of the largest that attracts many tourists and goes on for days is Oktoberfest, held in the little town of Helen, Georgia. Many shops there sell items from Germany and Europe. However, all the other festivals go all out with local American and handmade items. Many local artists in the various towns rent a space at festivals to sell their creations. A number of people specialize in folk art.
I have two granddaughters, ages eight and ten, who are commercial artists and their style of painting is Jackson Pollack. Last year, they had a booth at the local Mule Camp Market and sold several of their paintings at the festival. It’s a wonderful experience learning how the free market system works and is a great lesson in the economics of the free enterprise system—the voluntary exchange of goods and services.
Local fall festivals are the free enterprise operating at its best. An environment is created where most anyone who wants to and has something they have created to sell, can rent a space, display their merchandise and sell to visitors who come to the festivals that usually draws large crowds. They are places for fun and profit. One of those wonderful features of life in America.
Let Freedom Ring!


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