Free Workshops

The Bear offers free workshops featuring some of the festival’s finest musicians, storytellers, and other artists who share their talent, experience, and knowledge. Below is a typical schedule of workshops in Hancock Park and Woodrow’s Tent.

Hancock Park


2:00   Old-Time Mountain Dance with John Kelley and the “Beary” Good Stringband

3:00   Ukulele Jam (Nancy & Charlie Hartness)

The ukulele is a wonderful instrument to learn, especially if you have never played another instrument. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to transport and have only four nylon strings so very easy to play chords and sing along. Come join the fun.

4:00    Bluegrass Banjo (Geoff Hohwald)

5:00    Clogging  (Cindy Barnes)

An introduction to clogging.

6:00   Old-Time Mountain Dance with John Kelley and the “Beary” Good Stringband


1:00    Ballad Singing (Sarrah Ellen McDonald)

Sarrah Ellen McDonald is a fine and powerful singer and plays piano, guitar, fiddle, and bass.

She is a founding member of the Georgia Pick & Bow Traditional Music School, as well as Site Director for the Lumpkin County Middle School. As a member of Barefoot Creek and a sometime Buzzard Mountain Boy (she’s the tall one), Sarrah Ellen has played and sung on porches & tailgates, in barns and kitchens, all over North Georgia and even parts of North Carolina.

Sarrah Ellen is a schoolmarm who makes her home in a little cabin in the National Forest above Dahlonega.

2:00    Beginning Penny Whistle (Jim O’Connor)

Whether you’d like to provide an additional melody instrument for your local jam or simply want to take on a rewarding challenge, the Penny Whistle Workshop is the place to be. Multi-instrumentalist Jim O’Connor will demonstrate beautiful tunes on various whistles collected on travels to Ireland, and will teach the basics of penny whistle playing.

A former founding member of the Shoal Creek Bluegrass band, Jim has spent the past 15 years with the popular trio, Mulligan Stew, playing Irish and old-time music. His contributions include mandolin, guitar, tin whistle and vocals. Bring along a “Key of D” penny whistle for active participation in the class, or just come and listen. Vintage Music, located on Dahlonega’s Historic Square, will have a supply of D whistles on hand for those who would like to stop by and purchase one

3:00    Pickin’ Porch Jam

Pick and Bow Tent

Saturday at 12:00 Noon:  Old-Time Slow Jam

Woodrow’s Tent


11:00    Bluegrass Slow Jam (Shaky Willow)

Join local bluegrass band Shaky Willow in playing your favorite bluegrass tunes! Shaky Willow is a family group of musicians from Dawsonville who love to pick and play bluegrass/acoustic music.

The band consists of four middle and high school-aged siblings who, with the accompaniment of their father, began playing in their living room. Eli has formidable talents on multiple instruments, including playing a driving 5-string banjo for the band. Sadie puts the rock in rock-solid rhythm for the group on guitar. She is an evolving presence on stage with her big personality and vocals. Adley is a jack of all trades. She is multi-talented on several instruments, sings heartfelt vocals, and a mandolin chop that will shake the ground. MaKale, the youngest in the band, has a love for singing and developing her talents as a well-rounded musician on the rise.

Working together, this bluegrass ensemble would make any bluegrass legend proud. With a love for porch picking, they have been invited off the porch into communities for listening enjoyment. They have participated in Pick & Bow as students. Eli, the oldest, is now one of our banjo instructors and Sadie, the next oldest, is an official assistant teacher for guitar.

12:00   History of Appalachian Music and Dance (Barry Whittemore)

1:00    Old-Time Fiddle (John Grimm)

2:00    Storytelling Workshop

3:00    Old-Time Bajo (Tom Ryan)

4:00    Appalachian/Irish Crossover Tunes (Chestatee River Ceili Band)

5:00    Irish Jam


1:00    Clawhammer Bajo with DADGAD Guitar: A New Old-Time Favorite (Debbielee and Joe Welchel)

2:00    Old Time Songs with Frank & Allie.

See you in 2022!

Tentative Festival Dates:
April 23-24, 2022

Tentative Opening Night Auction;
April 22, 2022

Previous schedule:
2019 Bear on the Square Program


Mailing Address

P.O. Box 1015
Dahlonega, GA 30533