The eighth annual Women’s Music in the Mountains festival returns to the North Georgia mountains this weekend, promising three days of camping, songs and fun.
Lesbian guitarist Ronnda Cadle organizes the festival each year at Swiftwaters, the “womanspace” campground near Dahlonega, Ga.
“If you have never been to Swiftwaters, you must plan to attend or camp at some point,” Cadle says. “The Festival is rustic as well as the camping. Tents are the main source for camping and there are no RV hookups. But the spirit of the grounds, its vision and longevity are priceless.”
Swiftwaters was founded more than 30 years ago by lesbian partners Dorothy (Dot) Osebold and Joyce Tree. After Osebold died, Tree kept the only campground for women open with the help of Pat Roberts, who also became Tree’s partner. Tree died in 2006 and friends and volunteers, such as Cadle, now help Roberts keep the space a destination spot for women, mostly lesbians
“This is the festival’s eighth year, my third coming back from Seattle,” Cadle says. “I do it because of my love for Pat and Joyce.
“Joyce was my biggest fan and supported my singer/songwriter series I was producing in Atlanta,” Cadle recalls. “She would send me $25 each month to help cover costs of flyers. I myself had never heard of Swiftwaters at that time, so I went to visit, meet and thank them. It was that meeting that inspired the Spring Fest and is something I hope to continue to do.”
The May 4-6 festival is a grassroots effort, much like the campground.
“Everything is pretty much run on a generator and women volunteer to assemble the stage and get the grounds ready,” Cadle says. “It truly is a community gathering focusing on good music, womanspace and having a good time.”
While dogs are allowed at the festival if they remain on leashes, men are not.
“The legacy of Swiftwaters was to create a safe space for women and we are honoring the vision of its creation,” Cadle says. “We have nothing against men and we are NOT man haters, we are just continuing with the original vision of the campground founders.”
Her top tips for camping at Swiftwaters this time of year?
“Bring sunscreen, a tube to float down the river, a cooler of your favorite drinks, ice and cash to buy the artists’ CDs,” Cadle says.
Swiftwaters is located at 830 Swiftwaters Road, Dahlonega, GA 30533. Call 888-808-5021 for more information.
2012 Festival Prices
• Early arrival to claim hold tent site $15 per night • Friday – Sunday: $65 per woman (2 nights camping + all music) • One night of camping Friday or Saturday: $45 (includes Saturday all day and either Friday or Sunday program) • Day pass Saturday: $25 per woman • Day pass Friday night or Sunday, music only: $10 (Day pass holders may stay one hour past close of evening program)
Top photo: Artists scheduled to perform at this year’s Women’s Music in the Mountains include (clockwise from top left) Hollin Gammage, Barb Carbon, Heidi Pollyea, Heidi Swan and organizer Ronnda Cadle. (Publicity photos)