The newly released 2010 Census data shows the county's population hit 214,346 last year, a 51 percent increase from the 141,903 reported in the 2000 count.
Cherokee welcomed 72,443 new residents during the 10-year period, which averages out to about 20 newcomers a day.
Buzz Ahrens, chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, said the growth parallels projections used for recent efforts like the comprehensive plan update.
That, he said, is important as it "means the assumptions and plans we made are in line."
"In spite of the economy, we're still growing," he said, adding he's thankful to everyone for participating in the Census. "A good base response is important."
While Cherokee's overall increase kept it among the fastest-growing communities in the country, it's the cities where the numbers are most staggering.
Canton's population growth rate topped the county's cities at 198 percent, as its residents numbered 22,958 last year as compared to 7,709 in 2000.
"That's a little fast - a lot fast," Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said of the pace. "The greatest impact was almost uncontrollable annexation. The city needs to grow more from within now."
Hobgood said annexations of huge areas - such as the land now home to the Great Sky, Laurel Canyon, Prominence Pointe and River Green neighborhoods - spread the city out too far for comfort.
"It puts great burdens on your services. It's more efficient to have your population more dense," Hobgood said, noting he's not opposed to annexations except in such great amounts. "When the economy turns around ... we need to put some pressure to steer growth into downtown."
Canton City Manager Scott Wood said the population growth is a "compliment" to the city since so many people want to call it home.
But it also means an "increased burden" on the city to meet service needs like land use, water and public safety.
"It's a constant challenge to balance needs and demands with resources," he said. "We work every day to meet that challenge."
Following Canton was Holly Springs with 188-percent growth, also aided by annexations. The city's population was at 9,189 during last year's count as compared to 3,195 in 2000.
Woodstock also grew fast with both annexations and infill development, but Mayor Donnie Henriques said the 2010 Census numbers likely underreport the totals.
The Census figures show 138-percent growth to 23,896 people last year up from 10,050 a decade ago.
A labeling error sent out Census forms with the correct zip codes, but the wrong city (Holly Springs instead of Woodstock), which Henriques estimates resulted in 5 to 7 percent of residents being missed by the count.
Henriques said he never received his own form by mail, but was counted by door-to-door Census workers.
"How many people didn't get the mailed form because of the situation and then missed the Census counters? It's hard to say," he said, noting the undercount has negative implications for the city.
Long considered the largest city in the county, Woodstock now is "just barely ahead" of Canton, which Henriques said could affect its role in countywide and regional decisions.
"It's not a big number, but in these times, when you're scrounging for every dollar, you look to help from Washington, D.C." and population can be a factor in gaining federal monies, he said. "It does hurt for awhile."
While growth has its benefits, Henriques said in some respects "it's a good thing," the rate has slowed in the last couple of years to allow the city time to catch up on infrastructure.
"We can always hire more police and fire and public works employees, but it's the infrastructure you fall behind on. We've been trying to keep up with that," he said noting projects like the Interstate 575 interchange at Rope Mill Road and improvements to downtown now under way. "We're keeping our heads above water."
The City of Ball Ground knows the sting of an undercount.
In 2000, the Census reported the city was home to 730 people - a figure city officials argued was way too low.
City Manager Eric Wilmarth said they learned the hard way the "tremendously difficult" challenge of convincing the U.S. Census Bureau to change a total.
So for the 2010 count, the city government was very involved: the staff provided Census workers with address listings for every residential structure in Ball Ground and the status of each one; Ball Ground City Hall was offered up as a satellite office for the workers; and street addresses were provided for residents who receive mail via U.S. Post Office boxes.
Wilmarth even did his own count multiplying the number of occupied homes by the average population rate of 2.7 people per dwelling.
And the work paid off, said Wilmarth, who let out a whoop when told the new numbers. The city's 2010 population was 1,433, according to the Census, a 96-percent increase over the past decade.
His own total, Wilmarth noted, was only 20 people off from the Census tally.
"I'm ecstatic," Wilmarth said. "I'm very, very happy with that number. We do believe we were low in 2000, but now that's water under the bridge."
Being undercounted in 2000, Wilmarth said, hurt the city as some grants factor in population as do initiatives like the Georgia Department of Transportation's local road resurfacing program. Some fees like annual insurance licenses also are impacted when your population count is less than 1,000, he added.
Nelson, which is in both Cherokee and Pickens counties, grew at the same rate overall and in Cherokee: 109 percent. The entire city's population was 1,314 last year with 599 of those residents in Cherokee, as compared to 626 overall and 287 in Cherokee in 2000.
Nelson Mayor David Leister said the city's "hometown atmosphere" that's both quiet and comfortable draws residents into its limits. But, he said, the city still needs to provide acceptable services for a community of its size.
"We're at a pivotal point in government infrastructure modifications and services," he said. "We need to be thinking about better, more efficient ways of serving the people."
Nelson's size now far out shadows Cherokee's other smaller city: Waleska.
The town, which is home to many part-time residents enrolled at Reinhardt University, added only 28 full-time residents in the last decade, rising to 644 Waleskans last year, according to the Census.
Waleska Mayor Doris Jones said while the news of additional residents is "wonderful," she had not yet reviewed the accuracy of the numbers with city staff.