Discovering painted rocks is bringing locals together
Dahlonega may look a little more colorful lately.
Since Pokemon Go is no longer in style, local residents now have a new reason to go walking around downtown.
Locals have spent the spring and summer hiding brightly painted rocks in spaces around town in hopes of bringing a little light-hearted joy to passers-by.
It's all part of the new Dahlonega Rocks movement that has been gaining speed around town.
The group's Facebook page is over 500 strong and growing as the craze sweeps the community.
More painted rock fans every day are finding decorated stones that have been hidden around the Public Square and in parks and other locations in town.
Anyone is in invited to participate by painting pictures, designs, and messages on rocks and hiding them in public areas where it would be safe for others to look for the rocks.
Painted rocks should also include "#Dahlonega Rocks" on the bottom. This tells folks who find them that they can see all the other designs that have been posted online.
The phenomenon began when Dahlonega resident Valerie West Fambrough saw an idea on Facebook from a community in Texas.
"I was looking for a way to bring some positivity to our community," said Fambrough who works in the University of North Georgia biology department.
"What could we do to incorporate downtown and connect with other folks?" she added.
The Brazoria County Rocks Facebook page gave her the idea to have a page for people to post photos of the rocks they find.
"Everybody is always excited to see their rock re-posted," said Fambrough who added that she likes to see people getting along better thanks to rocks.
"With all the division and hate in our world we need to come together," Fambrough said. "[There is] always something we can find in common"
Fambrough said she started the Facebook group in March and that the new painted rock activity is similar to Geocaching, but less complicated, she said.
Sometimes people post hints on the Facebook page of where to find their rocks, she said.
If people find rocks and want to keep them they are welcome to do so.
Of course, re-hiding rocks for others to find helps continue the fun.
Either way, people are encouraged to share what they did when they post a picture of the rocks online.
After Fambrough created the Dahlonega Rocks Facebook page she said Tammy and John Clower at Giggle Monkey Toys told her that they had been doing something similar.
Tammy Clower said they had seen the same activity going on at St. Simon’s Island during a visit and thought it would be a great thing to do here.
"We thought is was a perfect fit for our community and for our store, so we jumped right in!" said Clower.
All of the Giggle Monkey rocks are marked with "GMT" and some are marked as prize rocks. Clower said if someone finds one, they can bring it to the store to pick a prize.
Painting the rocks has become a family affair. Clower said a few have been painted by her husband John, his sister Mary, their granddaughter Alessa, and their daughter-in-law Rachel, but most have been painted by John’s daughter Stacey.
Approximately 50 rocks have been hidden since the folks at Giggle Monkey began painting rocks. For the rocks which still remain hidden, clues are posted on the store's Facebook page.
MOST WANTED ROCK
Also getting into the act is downtown business Outlaw Jerky, which hides just one painted rock, known as "Rocky the Kid."
According to employee Sherri Bales the store "wanted to support Dahlonega Rocks, get people out on the square and engage local businesses."
Outlaw has been participating for a few weeks and often posts clues on Facebook or the store's Instagram account @OutlawJerky, said Bales.
"The kids are having fun with it," she said.
Bales said they usually hide their prize rock in places that have some significance to them.
As of The Nugget's deadline, "Rocky the Kid" was still on the loose.
According to the store's Facebook page the painted rock was last seen "lurking around the Dahlonega Mint."
JOIN THE FUN
For anyone wanting to join the rock painting fun, Fambrough recommends adding a clear layer over each painted rock to prevent the weather from washing away the artwork.
And of course, don't take rocks out of the neighbor's flowerbed in order to decorate.
Now even The Dahlonega Nugget is getting into the act with its own painted rocks including a glittery golden prize rock.