We are striking it rich in 2018 with not one but two festivals celebrating our North Carolina gold history. They are held during the first weekend of June about 20 miles apart, an easy 20-30 minute drive east of Asheville. One is the Official North Carolina Gold Festival in Old Fort and the other is hosted by the owners of the Lucky Strike Gold Mine, located near Marion. Both are free to attend.
North Carolina was the biggest gold producer in the country in the early 1800s, when gold was discovered in California in 1848. The mines in this area employed nearly 5,000 people. Nearby, the Bechtler Mint created the first gold coins. You can also visit other mines and stops on the NC Gold Trail.
June 2, 2018
The Official NC Gold Festival in Old Fort is held on the banks of Mill Creek at the Mountain Gateway Museum (24 Water St, Old Fort). Activities include gold and gem panning contests, gold vendors including a display by the Reed Gold Mine, demonstrations, exhibits, a Bechtler Gold Coin Exhibit, a Bechtler Museum House Exhibit, games, jewelry, live music, and food. At 2 PM, country music comedian Cledus T. Judd takes the stage. The festival runs 10 AM until 4 PM. The museum will be open for free tours.
June 1-2, 2018
The Lucky Strike Gem Mine, in the Vein Mountain region of McDowell County, hosts their gold festival about 7 miles south of I-40 near Marion (251 Lucky Strike Dr, Marion). Find a variety of vendors, including the latest in gold mining equipment. A lapidarist will demonstrate the fine art of gem faceting. Watch as they stamp a Vein Mountain Gold. Also enjoy live music, smoked BBQ, nugget races, horse shoes, and more. At the mine, learn to sluice and crevice the river or pan for gold at the flume (buckets of ore are $10). 12-6 PM Friday and 9 AM-6 PM Saturday. Two miles away is Thermal City gold mine. About 13 miles south is the Becthler House Museum.
Become a gold and gem prospector with all the tools you will need! Find jewelry and a variety of non-gold related arts and crafts.
At the Mountain Gateway Museum, tour two historic cabins from the late 1800s.
The Livermush Festival (photo above) is that Saturday evening in nearby downtown Marion!
More stops for the day: See the NC Mining Museum at Emerald Village in Little Switzerland or tour the Carson House Museum (on the NC Gold Trail) in Marion. Read more about gem mining in Western North Carolina.