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Petals and paintings: Daisy arts festival returns for 41st year

Daisies bloom in bright bands of yellow along the rock outcroppings of Stone Mountain beginning in September.

Found only within a 60-mile radius of the dome, the flower species - Viguiera porteri - was first discovered in 1846 and christened the Confederate yellow daisy.

More than a century later, a small arts and crafts show was founded to celebrate the tiny blooms. For 41 years now, at the base of Stone Mountain, artists and crafters have showcased their work, which today includes pottery, paintings, sculpture, photography and jewelry.

In its 41st year, the Yellow Daisy Festival opened Thursday and is expected to draw about 200,000 visitors over the course of the four-day event to Stone Mountain Park, where the special events meadow will be filled with vendors, events and activities for the next three days.

Among the juried artists and crafters showcasing their work are 19 residents from around Gwinnett County.

Lawrenceville resident Andrea Bunker first attended the Yellow Daisy Festival as a child of 10 or 11. The Gwinnett native is now in her third year participating in the annual festival as a vendor. Bunker and her mother, Snellville resident Shauna Blount, and her sister-in-law, Lawrenceville resident Stacey Blount, create home decor items that include wood-crafted and custom signs.

Bunker was on her way to Stone Mountain at noon Wednesday to set up the trio's booth along the Azalea Circle.

"It just gets more crowded every year," Bunker said of the four-day event. "More and more people hear about it and more and more people come."

For Lilburn residents Jim and June Hamlett, this year's festival is their first as a vendor. The husband and wife duo have been creating holiday decor made with crushed cinnamon bark for about five years.

"It's a real nice home decor item for holidays," Jim Hamlett said as he took a break from setting up their booth along Blackberry Lane on Wednesday. "We have houses, we have gingerbread people, we have animals, dogs, cats, things like that."

Hamlett said he calls the crafts fragrant accents as they can be "re-scented" year after year using cinnamon oil.

Other Gwinnett vendors expected to showcase their arts and crafts at the festival this year are Snellville resident Monica Fulcher, who will be selling handmade dog collars, leashes and harnesses, Elizabeth Wanzor of Duluth, whose hand-cut and painted wooden puzzles and toys will likely attract the younger festival attendees to her booth along Blackberry Lane, and Suwanee resident Ladda Tongkumsai, who creates decorative clay flowers.

Along with the more than 500 vendors that will fill the special events meadow, live entertainment will be provided throughout each day beginning at 11 a.m.

Admission to this year's Yellow Daisy Festival is free with a $10 one-day parking pass at the park's gate. For more information, visit stonemountainpark.com.

SideBar: If you go

· What: 41st annual Yellow Daisy Festival

· When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

· Where: Stone Mountain Park, U.S. Highway 78 East, Exit 8, Stone Mountain

· Cost: Free with a $10 one-day parking pass

More information: Visit stonemountainpark.com