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Literary and science festivals will headline first weekend of March in Dahlonega

The Dahlonega Science Festival is set for March 1-3.

Love books? Enjoy science and technology? The first weekend of March in Dahlonega will feature two festivals organized by the University of North Georgia (UNG) faculty and other community members that will feed your appetite for both.

For science enthusiasts, NASA engineers will talk about jet propulsion systems and mark this year's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. For literature lovers, New York Times best-selling author Rebecca Wells will talk about her "Ya-Ya Sisterhood" series.

Pairing science and literature activities stems from the efforts of UNG faculty members who are the organizers for the 16th annual Dahlonega Literary Festival and the second annual Dahlonega Science Festival. The literary festival runs March 1-2, while the science festival is March 1-3. All science festival events are free on a first-come, first-served basis while the literary festival is mostly free but features three ticketed events.

The science festival will cover a wide range of fields including biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and the earth sciences.

Organizers stress that both festivals are community events with a wide array of partners within and outside of UNG.

"Our audiences are similar," said Dr. Donna Gessell, professor of English at UNG, who chairs the literary festival committee for the second time. It is a collaboration of the group Lumpkin Literacy with 14 book clubs in Lumpkin County. "They are people who want to have a learning experience that's fun and entertaining."

Dr. Donna Governor, assistant professor of teacher education, agreed.

"As an educator, if I can get people excited about science, it's easier to teach them," she said, explaining a wide variety of hands-on science activities that appeal to kids will be demonstrated and UNG students again will help with events.

Governor and Dr. Sonny Mantry, assistant professor of physics at UNG, head up the science festival efforts with assistance from departments within the College of Science and Mathematics, College of Education, and College of Arts and Letters.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers Trina Ray and Kim Steadman will headline the Dahlonega Science Festival. Ray will speak at 7 p.m. March 1 between a pair of shows at the George E. Coleman Sr. Planetarium at 6 and 8 p.m. She has been part of the Voyager and Cassini missions with NASA. Steadman has worked on the Mars 2020 Rover and the Mars Science Laboratory. Both Ray and Steadman will speak at a variety of other events during the weekend.

Rebecca Wells

"Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" author Rebecca Wells will perform "Divine Daughter of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" from 4:30-5:30 p.m. March 2 at Dahlonega Baptist Church.

Wells will perform the "Divine Daughter of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" from 4:30-5:30 p.m. March 2 in the Dahlonega Baptist Church sanctuary. Tickets are $20, with proceeds benefiting the new Lumpkin County Public Library.

Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of UNG, will hold a free "Children's Book Publishing from Start to Finish" workshop with Dr. B.J. Robinson, director of UNG Press, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 2 at Dahlonega Baptist Church. Jacobs published "UNG The Gold I See: The Legacy of UNG's Dahlonega Campus" in fall 2018.

Other literary events include:

  • Songwriters Café that will feature Arthur Hinds, Erick Jones, Judy Linn, Paul Pelt and novelist Ray Atkins
  • Buffet lunch with the festival's 14 featured authors, who include Terry Kay and Phil Hudgins
  • Author panels and workshops

For a full list of literary events, view the event website.

Other speakers and events at the Dahlonega Science Festival will include:

  • Marshall Shepherd, a University of Georgia (UGA) meteorologist and climatologist and host of the award-winning "Weather Geeks" talk show on the Weather Channel
  • UGA entomologist Marianne Shockley
  • Georgia Tech's John Wise, who specializes in black holes
  • Larry Young from Emory University's Center for Translational Social Neuroscience
  • Russell Cutts, Emory University anthropology faculty member
  • Kid-friendly shows and hands-on activities including planetarium shows, forensics lab, makers fair, science of the circus, discovery center, and an escape room.

For a full list of science festival events, view the event program.

While the literary festival is a mainstay, the science festival took place for the first time in 2018 through a $5,000 Presidential Innovation Award from Jacobs. The two festivals have partnered to help provide the best possible weekend for visitors. They have even used a smartphone app, Attendify, to provide a combined schedule for people with science and literary interests. The UNG Foundation is providing $1,000 to support the literary festival.

"We're doing this to try to raise science awareness in the community and get people excited about science," said Dr. Lesley Simanton-Coogan, physics lecturer and planetarium director at UNG.

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