Dancers enter the circle during the grand entry at the 2012 Indian Springs Native American Festival. (File Photo)
The Indian Spring Hotel-Museum and the area surrounding the historic structure are steeped in Native American history.
The hotel was built in 1823 by Chief William McIntosh, part Creek Indian, as an inn for visitors who came to drink and swim in the waters of the sulfur spring in the area that is now Indian Springs State Park.
Native Americans had made the trek to the spring decades before the inn was built. They believed the spring had medicinal qualities.
One weekend a year, for the past 24 years, Native American traditions return to the area with activities and ceremonies during the Indian Springs Native American Festival and Powwow.
The festival, hosted by the Butts County Historical Society, brings the dances, songs, music and art of Native Americans — as well as members of various Native American nations — back to Flovilla.
The event will be held Saturday, Sept. 7 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the grounds of the Indian Spring Hotel-Museum. Admission is a $5 donation for adults, and $3 for children 11 and younger.
Each year, up to an estimated 5,000 people converge on Flovilla to attend the two-day Indian Springs Native American Festival, according to Butts County Leisure Services Director Jim Herbert, liaison to the Butts County Historical Society.
“For a lot of people, it’s the history of the area. It’s just a calming refuge,” said Butts County Historical Society member and festival organizer, Trina Mansfield, referring to the draw of the festival.
The highlight of each day is the grand entry, when all of the Native American dignitaries and dancers — dressed in traditional full, colorful regalia — walk into the ring to drum beats and chants.
The grand entry will be at 1 p.m. on both days of the festival.
Aztec dancers will return this year to perform, and Dale Arrowood of the nonprofit organization Winged Ambassadors will educate and entertain with birds of prey, Mansfield said.
Native American dream catchers, flutes, arrowhead replicas, food and other items will be sold at the event by various vendors.
The Indian Spring Hotel-Museum will be open for tours during the weekend festival. A $3 donation is requested for the tour.
This year, the museum will have new display cases in the Native American artifacts room that houses artifacts found in the local area, some of which date back 15,000 years, said Butts County Historical Society Vice President Jimmie Hobgood.
In addition, sidewalks have been added from the hotel to the Elizabeth Harris Garden located on the hotel grounds, Hobgood said.
The garden is named for the wife of former Georgia Gov. Joe Frank Harris. It is tended by Historical Society members and local master gardeners.
“They’ve got it looking great,” Hobgood said. “This is the perfect time of the year to come see it, too.”
Proceeds from the Indian Springs Native American Festival and Powwow will go toward the upkeep and maintenance of the Indian Spring Hotel and future Historical Society projects, he said.