Best Georgia Fall Festivals for Shopping

If you’re shopping for the perfect gifts, new décor or tchotchkes for any occasion, Georgia has festivals that you won’t want to miss.

St. Simons Island Antique Show, Sept. 3-4, 2016

St. Simons Island Antique Show takes place in September under the live oaks in Postell Park

St. Simons Island Antique Show takes place in September under the live oaks in Postell Park

Each autumn, Postell Park in St. Simons fills with dealers from across the Southeast selling furniture, collectibles, primitives, jewelry, silver, glassware each year. Its proximity in the Pier Village area makes the St. Simons Island Antique Show a favorite, giving attendees plenty of shopping opportunities.

Yellow Daisy Festival, Sept. 8-11, 2016

You know fall is in the air when the Yellow Daisy Festival comes to Stone Mountain Park!

You know fall is in the air when the Yellow Daisy Festival comes to Stone Mountain Park!

More than two miles of festival grounds welcome visitors to Stone Mountain Park during this annual event. The Yellow Daisy Festival consistently hosts over 400 vendors selling their wares during the four-day event.

Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival, Sept. 16-18, 2016

See why Arts in the Heart of Augusta is a festival-fan favorite in September!

See why Arts in the Heart of Augusta is a festival-fan favorite in September!

The Arts in the Heart of August Festival, consistently ranked as one of the best arts festivals in the country, takes over Augusta each fall. It features a number of artists alongside art-centric experiences, a children’s area, and five stages of entertainment.

Cotton Pickin’ Fair, Oct. 1-2, 2016

Don't miss the pumpkin patch at the Cotton Pickin' Fair!

Don’t miss the pumpkin patch at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair! Photo from Facebook.

Happening each spring and fall, Georgia’s Cotton Pickin’ Fair features skilled artisans and antique specialists selling their wares. Popular items for sale include jams, watercolor paintings, jellies, clothing, sculpture, pottery, quilts, flowers, wood carvings, oil paintings and jewelry. 

Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival, Oct. 21-23, 2016

Explore art, antiques and much more in historic downtown Braselton in October.

Explore art, antiques and much more in historic downtown Braselton in October.

Festival-goers drive from hours away to attend this festival in historic downtown Braselton each year. Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival organizers advertise that shoppers will find antiques, rustics, repurposed creations, local art, furniture, vintage, salvage, primitives, architectural, vintage jewelry, repurposed materials, advertising pieces, ironworks, statuaries, glasswork, pottery, and wood workings for sale alongside locally produced food.

Indie Craft Experience, Atlanta

Shop the Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta for unique craft and vintage items. Photo by Bonnie J. Heath, from Facebook.

Shop the Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta for unique craft and vintage items. Photo by Bonnie J. Heath, from Facebook.

Throughout the year, Indie Craft Experience hosts various maker fairs and pop-up shops. Salvage, a vintage market experience happens each April and September (18, 2016). Summer ICE is set for June, while their Holiday Shopping Spectacular happens right as the holiday season is kicking off.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits, Music & More

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits | Courtesy of The Jekyll Island Authority

Since its inaugural year in 2006, the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival has been satisfying appetites and entertaining audiences with a variety of shrimp-and-grits-related merriment. Ranging from captivating guest chef demonstrations and never-ending variations on the classic shrimp and grits dish to live music by popular regional artists and an irresistible craft brew tasting experience, the schedule of activities for the upcoming festival (Sept. 16-18, 2016) promises a memorable long weekend for Southern foodies and other fun-seekers.

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Additional features for the 2016 festival include an expanded festival footprint, the addition of a third live music stage, two new lounge experiences, more than 50 beers in the Craft Brew Fest, and for the first time ever, a statewide professional cooking competition to name “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits.” Returning favorites include the Jekyll Island Experience Pavilion, a Southern Living Pavilion, family-friendly entertainment, and more than 100 hand-selected art and craft vendors.

The festival kicks off Friday evening (Sept. 16) with day one of the three-day Craft Brew Fest, along with live music and lifestyle demonstrations. Saturday is chock-full of exciting events, including live music from local and regional artists, wildlife encounters, and engaging family-friendly activities.

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Sunday morning, chefs from around the state will compete for the title of “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits” and the honor of cooking for Gov. Nathan Deal. This fierce competition, in which recipe entries must consist of at least five “Georgia Grown” food products, will be judged by Executive Chef and Explore Georgia’s Official Culinary Explorer Jennifer Hill Booker; Southern Living contributor, Rebecca Lang; and CNN/HLN culinary journalist, Henna Bakshi.

So, what can you expect?

The Best of Local Restaurants and Caterers from the Golden Isles will show off their cooking chops with signature shrimp and grits dishes, along with other favorites, throughout the weekend. During Friday’s special Sample Night, festival attendees can get their first taste of each proprietor’s signature dish for only $5 per sample.

Live Entertainment abounds Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the main lawn, riverfront lawn, and at the Skeet House. Regional favorites take the stage throughout the weekend and are free for festival attendees.

Art and Craft Vendors, more than 100 of them, will be spread throughout the Historic District. These hand-selected, regional artists will have homemade goods such as jewelry, home décor items, handcrafted gifts, packaged foods, and other original artworks and products for sale.

Craft Brew Fest, presented by Southern Eagle Distributing, will be located in the historic Morgan Center. For guests age 21 or older, sample more than 50 varieties of beer from an assortment of breweries. Admission of $20 gets you 10 tasting tickets and a souvenir tasting glass. Tickets available online.

Kids Zone play area will offer a variety of activities for children of all ages to enjoy, including face painting, scrap exchange, rock wall climbing and zip-lining. Some activities may have a height requirement.

The Southern Living Biscuits and Jam Concert is an all new concert with Grammy-nominated headliner David Nail, Friday, Sept. 16, at the Jekyll Island Convention Center. General admission tickets are $25 and VIP tickets, which include upfront seating and a meet-and-greet, are $50. For concert tickets and information, visit www.jekyllisland.com/concert.

For more information about the festival, including live entertainment stage schedules, VIP, lounge, and Craft Brew Fest tickets, head to www.jekyllisland.com/shrimpgrits.

ScottJessica_150lJessica Scott is a marketing communications manager for Jekyll Island. As a native Southerner, she enjoys Southern coastal cuisine. Her favorite of these being the classic shrimp and grits dish of the low country. This makes her favorite event on Jekyll Island the annual Shrimp & Grits Festival, in which she gets to taste not only the Golden Isles’ best, but also “Georgia’s Best Shrimp and Grits” throughout the weekend.

Fall Festival Season in Georgia’s Lake Country

Georgia’s Lake Country may conjure ideas of long summer days spent fishing, golfing and splashing in the water, yet the communities surrounding Lakes Oconee and Sinclair are, in fact, year-round destinations. Eatonton, Greensboro, Madison and Milledgeville offer several fall festivals worth the trip. Put these events on your calendar immediately!

Eatonton

Join Crooked Pines Farm on Oct. 1-2 for their annual Pumpkin Festival! Traditional fall fun activities such as a pumpkin patch, hay rides, petting farm, pony rides and a corn-cob derby will be in full swing. 2016 brings the addition of bobbing for apples, face painting, crafts, a bounce house and more! Vendor booths will be offering homemade and original crafts, produce and festival treats.

Bring your appetite on Oct. 3 for the Taste of Eatonton. Enjoy samples from local favorite lake country restaurants at the area’s largest foodie event.

Shop for handmade crafts at the Briar Patch Arts Festival

Shop for handmade crafts at the Briar Patch Arts Festival in Eatonton

On Oct. 29, Eatonton hosts the spectacular Briar Patch Arts Festival. This unique arts festival hosts specialty arts and crafts vendors showcasing handmade soaps, photography, paintings, jewelry, pottery, wood working, handmade glassware, clothing, potted plants, children’s items and much more. Live entertainment on the music stage will keep you tapping your toes.

Greensboro

Why not kick back by Lake Oconee for a weekend of music, bourbon and BBQ?

Why not kick back by Lake Oconee for a weekend of music, bourbon and BBQ?

Garden & Gun is hosting a weekend of Music, Bourbon & BBQ at Lake Oconee on Sept. 23-35. Accommodations at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds will accompany an evening of bluegrass and barbecue with pit master John Lewis, culinary thrills from The Southerners Cookbook, and a bourbon master class with Seth & Justin Thompson of The Bourbon Review.

Madison

The 12th chili-themed showdown held in Madison’s Town Park, Madison’s Annual Chili Cook-off & Fall Festival, is sure to be another spicy success. From chili sampling to bounce-houses, there’s something for everyone! If chili isn’t your cup of (sweet) tea, you can also check out the homemade cornbread contest. Whether you compete or simply sample, make sure to put Saturday, Oct. 8 on your calendar!

Crafts and tractors are two of the main attractions at Bostwick's Cotton Gin Festival

Crafts and tractors are two of the main attractions at Bostwick’s Cotton Gin Festival

Another most anticipated tradition is the Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival on Nov. 5. If you’ve never seen 100+ tractors motoring through town, then it’s time to head to Bostwick. The festival began in the late 1980s and is held in honor of Bostwick’s agricultural heritage. The festival features specialty craft vendors, cotton ginning demonstrations and the largest tractor parade in the Southeast. ​

Milledgeville

Take to the streets of Milledgeville for music, art, BBQ and more during Deep Roots.

Take to the streets of Milledgeville for music, art, BBQ and more during Deep Roots.

Deep Roots is a lively cultural arts and music festival that brings historic downtown Milledgeville to life like nothing else on Oct. 22. It beckons travelers with an antique car show, live entertainment ranging from bluegrass to rock-and-roll, artist market and a “LittleRoots KidZone.” Downtown streets are closed, allowing festival-goers to dine in their favorite establishments or try a pop-up vendor, shop the festival arts or merchants, and dance in the street with your partner or kiddo. The festival also plays host to a GBA-sanctioned BBQ cook-off contest featuring the ever-popular People’s Choice award that will draw BBQ connoisseurs from around the Southeast.

The majestic oak and pecan trees are a wonderful canopy for hundreds of guests lounging in lawn chairs, on blankets, and enjoying picnics for several hours of the best Bluegrass music to be heard anywhere. Andalusia’s Bluegrass Festival, held on Nov. 5, is an event for the whole family! Bring your instruments for porch pickin’, or enjoy the tunes of live bands.

Once the leaves start to change colors and temperatures begin to drop, Georgia’s Lake Country invites you to spend this off-peak season of swimming as a festival-goer.

bonnie-familyBonnie Simmons is the social media voice, website whiz and project coordinator for the Milledgeville-Baldwin CVB. Bonnie fell in love with Milly while she attended Georgia College and worked at the downtown staple establishment, The Brick. Now married and chasing a toddler, she appreciates Milledgeville’s family friendly adventures, from walking at the Oconee River Greenway to attending a First Friday.

Otis Redding Tribute in Macon: Respect, Tenderness, Passion

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When I learned of Otis Redding’s 75th Birthday Celebration Weekend, Sept. 9-11, 2016, my first reaction was to do the math. The man has been a pillar of the American songbook for so long that 75 seemed too low a number. It’s a humbling reminder of the remarkable amount the Georgia native accomplished before his tragic 1967 death in a plane crash at age 26 — three days after recording his iconic “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”

Otis Redding with the Bar-Kays

Otis Redding with the Bar-Kays. Most of the band died in the 1967 plane crash that took Redding’s life. One member survived. Photo courtesy the Otis Redding Estate.

Macon commemorates its King of Soul starting on Friday, Sept. 9 (Otis’ actual birthday) with live music and an official declaration of Otis Redding Day at 11 a.m. directly outside Terminal Station and the recently relocated Tubman African American Museum, which currently features an Otis Redding photography exhibit. Free screenings of the documentary “Unsung – The Story of Otis Redding” will be held at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Douglass Theatre, where Redding began his rise to fame by repeatedly winning their weekly Saturday Dance Party talent contests. Sept. 9 also happens to be First Friday in downtown Macon, so there will be no shortage of entertainment options.

The weekend’s flagship event is Sunday night’s “An Evening of Respect” tribute concert at the City Auditorium. Headlining the bill are Birmingham breakout soul revivalists St. Paul and the Broken Bones, whose new album “Sea of Noise” will be released that week. The deep lineup also includes legendary Redding compatriots Steve Cropper (who co-wrote “Dock of the Bay”) and Eddie (“Knock on Wood”) Floyd, plus Allman Brothers alum and Macon institution Chuck Leavell.

Terminal Station and Cherry Street Plaza in Macon. Photo credit: Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Terminal Station and Cherry Street Plaza in Macon. Photo credit: Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Adding to the fun is a Saturday evening picnic on Coleman Hill featuring free screenings under the stars of classic music clips like Otis Live at the Monterey Pop Festival and the Stax/Volt Review Live in Norway.

Unlike many performers of his era, Redding profited from his stage work and writing credits, making solid business decisions that enabled his widow Zelma and three children to remain on their 300-acre Big O Ranch in nearby Round Oak (also check out the new roadside monument just up the road in Gray) and establish the Otis Redding Foundation to support his passions. “He wanted all young people to appreciate the value of an education while expressing themselves through music and the arts,” explains Mrs. Zelma — check out his 1960s public service announcement as proof.

The Redding Family: daughter Karla Redding-Andrews, Mrs. Zelma Redding, sons Dexter & Otis III. Photo by Maryann Bates.

The Redding Family: daughter Karla Redding-Andrews, Mrs. Zelma Redding, sons Dexter & Otis III. Photo by Maryann Bates.

The foundation has endowed a law school scholarship at Macon’s Mercer University as well as undergraduate and graduate scholarships in music and related fields, and funds Macon’s annual Otis Music Camp. Its latest endeavor is the DREAM Academy, a proposed state charter school that “intentionally and authentically integrates music and art with core subjects,” according to Karla Redding-Andrews, the foundation Executive Director (and Otis’ daughter).

Otis Redding’s musical legacy speaks for itself. His family’s legacy of giving back is getting a well-deserved louder megaphone.

glen-headshotGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org.

Pet-friendly Festivals Near Atlanta

Many city ordinances demand that dogs stay away from festival grounds. However, these pet-friendly Georgia festivals are especially for pups and their proud owners.

DogFest Walk ‘n Roll, Atlanta (Sept. 10, 2016)

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Photo from Canine Companions for Independence

The Atlanta Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence will host the annual DogFest Walk ‘n Roll in a new location this year: Atlantic Station. Attendees are invited to enjoy live musical entertainment, food, games, canine demonstrations, and a costume contest.

Woofstock, Smyrna (Oct. 1, 2016)

Billed as “Atlanta’s Largest Pet Party in the Park,” Woofstock is complete with canine contests, food vendors, live entertainment, and a fair amount of festival food. Dogs, cats and pets of all kinds are welcome, but all animals MUST be on a leash.

Howl-O-Weenie, Jonesboro (Oct. 1, 2016)

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Photo from DREAM Daschund Rescue, Facebook.

Each year, right before Halloween, the DREAM Dachshund Rescue hosts their annual Howl-O-Weenie benefit complete with dachshund-centric festivities such as races and contests. There are also microchip opportunities, food trucks, beer sales and abundant photo opportunities.

Boxerstock, Marietta (Oct. 23, 2016)

Boxerstock

Photo from Boxerstock, Facebook.

Four-legged family members are welcome to attend the all-day Boxerstock music festival, held each year at Jim Miller Park. Humans are, of course, welcome to attend, as well. This pet-friendly and family-friendly festival truly has something for everyone to enjoy!

Run for the Rescues 5K and Festival, Suwanee (March 25, 2017)

RunfortheRescues

Photo from Georgia SPCA Run for the Rescues 5K, Facebook.

Is your dog your running partner? Enter this pet-friendly race! Dogs are welcome to run, walk and sniff their way through the annual Run for the Rescues 5K and Festival benefiting the Georgia SPCA.

Georgia Renaissance Festival, Fairburn (April 15 – June 4, 2017)

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Photo from the Georgia Renaissance Festival

Alongside the meat on a stick and grog is a man’s best friend during the annual pet-friendly weekend at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Animals must be registered and have proof of shots to attend.

Tails on Trails at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs

Tails on Trails at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs

Can’t make it to a festival with your pup? Enjoy a hike on one of Georgia’s pet-friendly trails at state parks. Georgia State Parks offers a Tails on Trails Club, which allows members to earn a t-shirt for a human and bandana for a dog by hiking trails at seven parks around the state.

Find more pet-friendly trip ideas on ExploreGeorgia.org, and share photos with us using #exploregeorgiapup!

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.