Paddle and Jam on the Yellow River

Yellow River Jam 2015

The stage is set for a new music festival on Oct. 3, 2015. Yellow River Jam fills the senses with a unique combination of outdoor adventuring on the Yellow River, live musical performances, football fans and local treats.

Georgia Conservancy kicks off the festivities with a 7-mile paddle down a mellow stretch of the Yellow River. Guides and locals point out wildlife and historic sites along this slow, sandy-bottom section of the river that makes a laid-back trip for families and new paddlers. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the scenic stops on the way. Music fills the air as paddlers approach Porterdale’s Yellow River Park. The park is a picturesque place to enjoy the live bands, local foods and brews.

Paddling the Yellow River in Porterdale, Georgia

Paddling the Yellow River in Porterdale, Georgia

Floating to Yellow River Jam in a canoe or kayak isn’t the only way to get there. Paddle, bike, or drive to Yellow River Park and be greeted with the sounds of music from the riverside stage. Bring your blankets and jam the day away with a variety of local bands including Sweet Harmony, Tedo Stone, and others.

Bring the whole family and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of historic Porterdale. Don’t worry about missing the Georgia-Alabama game! Gather with fans at the Company Store Deli and watch on the big screen, while the kids take on a round of disc golf in the park. The festival also includes a diverse selection of craft beers, as well as an assortment of restaurants and vendors to serve up delicious local fare for hungry paddlers and music lovers.

Register with Georgia Conservancy to participate in the Yellow River Paddle portion of the festival:

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Your State Parks Day and Ice Cream Social at Panola Mountain

Your State Parks Day at Panola Mountain State ParkJoin over three-hundred volunteers and help improve local greenspaces during one of the largest volunteer events in Metro Atlanta. To celebrate Your State Parks Day and National Public Lands Day several impactful volunteer events have been scheduled including planting native wildflowers, cleaning up riverbanks and removing harmful invasive plants from sensitive habitat.

Volunteers can help in two beautiful locations. At Panola Mountain State Park volunteers will plant native wildflowers and help restore native habitat. Afterwards, they will be treated to a picnic lunch and commemorative tee-shirt courtesy of the Friends of Georgia State Parks. They can also enjoy yard games and ice cream. Becky Kelley, Director of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites said, “Volunteers have enormous impact on the health and well-being of parks and bring these unique places into the hearts of the community.” At Wade-Walker Park a massive cleanup will be followed by a family fun day. Both locations will work on volunteer projects from 9 AM to noon and celebrate from noon to 2 PM.

This event was created through a new coalition of nonprofits including the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. However, the seeds for this volunteer bonanza were planted when Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a public-private partnership aimed at recruiting one million volunteers for public lands. “Magnificent landscapes and our strong volunteer ethic are part of what make America so special and unique,” Secretary Jewell said.

Group and individual RSVPs are still being accepted and everyone is encouraged to give back during this national day of service! Register for Panola Mountain State Park here or Wade-Walker Park here.

Follow the event live on Facebook and Twitter with hashtags #Yvolunteer and #MoveMountains!

If you can’t make it to Panola Mountain State Park or Wade-Walker Park, you’re sure to find a Your State Parks Day event near you!

Kimberly EstepWhen not putting her savvy communication skills to use at the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Kimberly Estep can most often be found wandering over hiking trails with her two dogs.  Most of all, Kimberly loves sharing her knowledge of the hidden gems of Georgia with anyone who will listen.

Gearing Up for Taste of Atlanta

Taste of Atlanta Food

Taste of Atlanta is one of my favorite food festivals! I’m really excited about this year’s event, because there will be several new restaurants added to the list of more than 90 top Atlanta restaurants represented. There will also be chefs from all over greater Atlanta serving up their specialties during the three-day festival. I also like the fact that I can watch free cooking demonstrations in The Kitchen Workshop, listen to some of Atlanta’s acclaimed chefs share their culinary journeys during The Chef’s Table, celebrate Georgia’s bounty at the EAT GA stage, and make a bid at the Share Our Strength silent auction tent.

This is Taste of Atlanta’s 14th year and will take place the weekend of September 26 and 27 with a sneak peek of restaurants on Friday, September 25. It’s located right in the heart of Midtown at Tech Square, encompassing Spring and 5th Street, so you can let MARTA doing the driving for you.

The main reason Taste of Atlanta is my favorite food festival is the diversity of food offered. As you walk through the rows of vendor tents, you have the delicious experience of tasting so many different foods right in the same area. For example, you can start with some BBQ ribs, and then try a Chinese dumping or maybe a meatball. Then, walk a block or two and give some cheese fondue a try. If sweets are your thing, you’ll be able to sample cupcakes, crepes, ice cream, pecan waffles and wash it all down with wine, craft beers, and artisan cocktails! Leave your skinny jeans at home because this is your chance to sample them all!

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. See her at Taste of Atlanta on the EAT GA stage Saturday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m., and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see more during the festival.

Click here for more content from Jennifer.

Can’t-Miss Fall Events for Family Fun

Fall beckons the family outdoors to enjoy festivals, fairs and crisp weather. From Ellijay’s Apple Festival in the mountains to Tybee Island’s Pirate Fest on the coast, fall events await families around the state.

Georgia Apple Festival, Oct. 10-18, 2015, Ellijay

Georgia Apple Festival, Oct. 10-18, 2015, Ellijay

Historic High Country

2015 Wings Over North Georgia Airshow (Oct. 3-4, Rome) – Rated North Georgia’s #1 family weekend event, this world-class air show festival features the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, GEICO Skytypers and USMC MV-22 Osprey demo teams.

Georgia Apple Festival (Oct. 10-18, Ellijay) – Over 300 vendors peddle handmade, hand-crafted items. Enjoy many on-site demonstrations of how selected types of crafts are made. This year promises many new crafts as well as favorites from past festivals.

Presidential Pathways

Fall Family Fun Days at The Rock Ranch (Sept. 26-Nov. 7, The Rock) – Every Saturday in fall brings a series of special events to The Rock Ranch beginning Sept. 26 with Hats off to Heroes Day. Other special Saturdays include Georgia’s Official Day of the Cowboy, a Hot Air Balloon Rally and a “Not So Spooky” Halloween Festival. The festivities come to a close on Nov. 7 with National Pumpkin Destruction Day.

Day Out with Thomas on the SAM Shortline (Oct. 16-18, 24 & 25, Cordele) – Thomas will visit the SAM Shortline Excursion Train at Georgia Veterans State Park in southwest Georgia. You can spend a whole day with the beloved storybook engine, Sir Topham Hatt and other friends.

The Coast

CoastFest 2015 (Oct. 3, Brunswick) – The 20th annual CoastFest highlights Georgia’s unique coastal environment in a family-friendly day of fun and education. Activities range from recycling to coastal weather … native plants to sea turtles … water conservation to archeology… herpetology to geology … sharks to shrimp!

Tybee Pirate Fest, Oct. 8-11, 2015

Tybee Pirate Fest, Oct. 8-11, 2015

Tybee Pirate Fest (Oct. 8-11, Tybee Island) – There will be fun for pirates of all ages; the littlest pirates can enjoy an entire area devoted to quality family entertainment, while adults can grab a drink, partake in pirate-themed carnival games and shop for fun souvenirs.

Plantation Trace

Berrien County Harvest Festival (Sept. 26, Nashville) – The Berrien County Harvest Festival features arts, crafts, food and entertainment. Roll up your pant legs and give grape stomping a try — just one of the many family-friendly activities available. Admission to the downtown festival is free to the public.

Spooktacular at Chehaw (Oct. 31, Albany) – Spend your Halloween with Chehaw from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Zoo plaza with Halloween themed fun for all ages! Come in costume for a chance to win prizes! Games, prizes, candy and animal encounters are all free with zoo admission.

Atlanta Metro

Halloween Hayrides at Red Top Mountain State Park (Oct. 9-24, Acworth) – The hayride loops through the Iron Hill area of Red Top Mountain State Park, providing riders with a trip through the mythical town of Ravenwood. Plenty of treats and cider are available following the stories for you to enjoy prior to the short walk back to your car.

Play the Play with Cat the Cat at Theatre for the Very Young, Alliance Theatre (Oct. 21-Nov. 15, Atlanta) – Based on Mo Willems’s beloved CAT the CAT series, this play explores the often terrifying experience of making a new friend. Using the rhyming and simple language of the books, this theatrical experience will invite our young audience to identify Cat the Cat’s parade of animal friends, mimic their animal sounds, and even learn a new language!

Historic Heartland

Deep Roots Festival (Oct. 24, Milledgeville) – As the official host for the Georgia Barbecue Association State Championship, this festival features delicious BBQ, over 100 vendors with handmade arts & crafts, Old Capital Car Club’s showcase of the best in all motorized transport and the KidZone — complete with the best collection of rides and inflatables.

Washington Farms Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch (Sept. 26-Nov. 1, Athens) – Pick larger-than-life sunflowers, explore the corn maze and pick the perfect pumpkin. Other fall farm activities include a petting zoo, pig races and s’mores around the campfire.

Northeast Georgia Mountains

Georgia Mountain Fall Festival, Oct. 9-17, 2015, Hiawassee

Georgia Mountain Fall Festival, Oct. 9-17, 2015, Hiawassee

Georgia Mountain Fall Festival (Oct. 9-17, Hiawassee) – Each October, the 9-day event features exciting musical performances, arts & craft vendors, educational demonstrations, a flower show and the ever-popular Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers’ Convention.

Gold Rush Days Festival (Oct. 17-18, Dahlonega) – Over 300 art and craft exhibitors and food vendors gather around the Public Square and Historic District in support of this annual event. It is estimated that a crowd of over 200,000 visit over the weekend to join in the fun and excitement!

Classic South

Family Fall Fest at Mistletoe State Park (Oct. 10, Appling) – Welcome fall with a pumpkin scavenger hunt, face painting, children’s games, marshmallow roasting, hayrides, cake walk, a snake program, nocturnal animals program and more.

A Haunted Evening at A.H. Stephens (Oct. 31, Crawfordville) – Activities include a haunted hayride, treats, a movie on the lawn, Wii dance, campfire, costume contest and a campsite decorating contest for both RV and equestrian campers. Judging for the costume contest will be done by rangers, and the campsite contest will be judged by the public.

Magnolia Midlands

TroupCorn Maze & Halloween Fun (Oct. 3-24, Dublin) – With a huge corn maze and more than 20 additional attractions, TroupCorn Maze offers a fresh take on family fun and education in a rural farm setting. Certified Georgia Grown, TroupCorn Maze grows bushels of smiles for the whole family during October and November with acres of fun! Cheer on your team during College Football Saturdays with a huge outdoor movie screen, snacks from Mazey’s Restaurant, and a fire crackling!

Dublin Fall Fair (Oct. 7-10, Dublin) – Stroll under the bright lights of the carnival midway with fun games and exciting rides like Viper, Wipe Out, Drop Tower, Fireball, and lots of kiddie rides. Sample carnival food favorites like funnel cakes, corn dogs, and fried candy bars! Put a smile on their face with an unlimited ride pass and unlimited fun!

LesliLesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Petit Le Mans Drifts into Road Atlanta

Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Photo courtesy of YAER Productions

The 18th Annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda roars into action September 30 through October 3 at Road Atlanta. Before you go, here’s what you need to know:

Getting There
Location – Road Atlanta is located in Braselton, Georgia – easily accessed by I-985 or I-85 via the Highway 53 exit.

Parking – There is infield parking for $50 or, for free, you can park across the street and ride the shuttle between the track and the parking lot.

Schedule of Events
The 10-hour sportscar endurance championship race is on October 3. The other three days will showcase practices, qualifying and races for four additional feature series. Check out the full schedule here.

Who’s Racing?
Plenty of professional drivers competing in the race live locally. Bryan Sellers, Spencer Pumpelly, Andy Lally and Sean Rayhall will seek to be first past the checkered flag in front of their home crowd!

Where to Watch
Turn 1 Park your RV, car or camping chairs outside Turn 1 to watch all of pitlane, the front straight and up into Turn 1.

Turn 3 – This is a great location to make new friends while standing along the fence watching down into the famous Road Atlanta esses.

Spectator Hill – The most famous of Road Atlanta viewing locations, you can bring a picnic or choose food options from vendors and watch the action while sitting in the grass overlooking the esses.

Turn 7 – This is a great place to see cars try and close the gaps in Turns 6 and 7 as they shift through two technical corners before shooting down one of the longest straightaways in motorsports.

The Bowl – With terrace-style seating, this is another convenient location to watch great racing. Spectators can see down into Turns 9, 10a and 10b and under the Patron Bridge, all while being in close proximity to Vendor Village.

Paddock – Watch the hustle and bustle of teams bringing cars back to their transporters for repair. Lots of action on this side!

Pre-Race at Petit Le Mans

Photo courtesy of YAER Productions

Kids enter for free – All kids 12 and under are admitted for free with a ticketed adult!

Vendor Village – Fans can purchase food, drinks and plenty of souvenirs, and see displays from top manufacturers and the series.

Open paddock – The paddock is always free and open to fans. You can get up close and personal with the teams, cars and drivers.

Grid walk – Before the start of the race, fans can walk among their favorite cars and drivers immediately prior to the field taking the green flag.

Autograph session – Fans can take pictures and get autographs from their favorite drivers on Friday.

Petit Pit Stop – Families can bring their kids to get faces painted and play in the kids zone.

Picnic – With 750 acres of park-like green space, there’s plenty of room to find shade or sunshine and enjoy a snack.

Camping – With reserved and walk-up options, there’s plenty of space for all spectators to get a great view from their campsite.

Car corrals – See plenty of eye candy from your favorite manufacturers at Petit Le Mans.

Night practice and night racing – Fans can see the cars racing under the stars on Thursday night and once the sun goes down on Saturday night for the big finale.

Race Night at Petit Le Mans

Photo courtesy of YAER Productions

Visitors can grab food in the Vendor Village, or you can bring your own. However, while alcohol will be on sale at the track, it cannot be brought into the venue.

Tickets can be purchased at the gate or in advance. Check online for ticket prices.