2015 Kids Racing Events in Georgia

First, my friend who NEVER runs stunned us all by running two marathons in one weekend. Then I learned about the IronKids Alpharetta event coming to our part of town in September. Is the universe trying to tell me something? Should our family expand our hiking adventures into the running realm?

IronKids Alpharetta

IronKids Alpharetta | Photo courtesy of Alpharetta CVB

I asked a few friends who run (and whose kids run) to give me their thoughts. I think the best advice I received was to start with the tot trot, move to the family one-mile run, and then branch out from there as their skillset and desire expands (keeping a jogging stroller at hand.)

It seems that some kids go at it full gusto without much prep. One kiddo reported that he wanted to train better for the next event though, because the medals looked so cool! A common theme during my unofficial interviewing? When kids are doing this for themselves it’s a confidence booster and an ideal way to show them true heart in organized sports.

If your kids are anxious to try their hand at a racing event, this sample list of triathlons and runs around the state will get you started. You won’t see us at any triathlon events this year, but maybe we’ll wave as you pass us on the next family fun run!

July 18
Clarkesville – Chopped Oak Triathlon

July 25
Dalton – Run for God – Dalton Parks Triathlon
Kennesaw – Georgia State Games Championship Run

August 8
Marietta – East Cobb Sprint, Super Sprint and Kids Triathlon
Columbus – Y Kids Tri – Youth Triathlon

Aug 22
Flowery Branch – KidFit & Adult Fit Triathlon

Aug 23
Norcross – 2015 Atlanta Kids Triathlon

Sept 13
Dawsonville – Bootlegger Super Sprint Triathlon

Sept 19
Alpharetta – IronKids Alpharetta
Rome – Roman Rumble 5k and 2 mile Health Walk

Sept 20
Rome – RACE Rome Youth Triathlon

Nov 26
Atlanta – Atlanta Half Marathon & Thanksgiving Day 5K

Dec 12
Atlanta – Jeff Galloway Race Weekend 5K and Kids Run

Strong4Life Super Hero Event

Strong4Life Super Hero Event

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.

Fourth of July in Georgia

Independence Day is right around the corner, and everyone is preparing for the most patriotic weekend of the year. Here is a list of fun July 4th festivities, from free fireworks to a scenic train ride on the SAM Shortline. So gather your family and friends and show off your red, white and blue at these exciting events all around Georgia!

4th of July Family Fun Day Celebration - Dahlonega

4th of July Family Fun Day Celebration in Dahlonega

Historic High Country
Villa Rica – The 9th annual Fireworks Display Extravaganza kicks off at 5:00 pm with the largest fireworks display in Northwest Georgia! Admission is free with concessions and on-site parking available.

Rome – You can be just as colorful as the fireworks with the Color in Motion 5k Run starting at 6:00 pm at Ridge Ferry Park. The party starts when you enter the park with live music, food and entertainment. There will be a fireworks show after the race. Race Day registration is $35.

Woodstock – Join the Stars & Strikes July 4th Spectacular with a parade starting at 10:00 am, a festival from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, a free concert with The Block Party Band and a thrilling firework show beginning at dusk.

Ringgold – Celebrate Independence Day with Red, White and Blueberry wine at the Georgia Winery! Featuring your choice of wine at $3 per glass.

Northeast Mountains
Dahlonega – Celebrate Independence Day family-style in Dahlonega on the historic town square with a fun 5k and 10k race, a patriotic ceremony on the lawn of the Gold Museum, a watermelon cutting by The Dahlonega Nugget, a classic car show and live music. The Independence Day Parade through the historic square begins around 5 p.m. and ends just in time to find a spot on the nearby drill field of the University of North Georgia to await the fireworks.

Helen – Come see Helen’s annual display of fireworks! View the beautiful show from the south side of Helen near the tubing companies at the Alpine Village Shoppes. Fireworks begin at dusk.

Sky Valley – This weekend event is fun for the whole family with a pancake breakfast and BBQ dinner followed by fireworks on Friday, July 3rd.  Saturday kicks off with a rubber duck race at 10:30 am and a parade through the park at 11:30 am.

Dillard – Come enjoy the free live band from 4:30 pm. to 8:30 pm, and BBQ from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the historic Dillard House. A fantastic firework display is scheduled for Saturday, July 5, at dusk at the north end of Rabun County.

Atlanta Metro
Lanier Islands – Gather at LanierWorld for a weekend celebration! Enjoy live entertainment on Thursday, July 2nd. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday splash around at the water park while dancing to the music and watch the firework spectacles at 10:00 pm every night.

Atlanta – Show off your patriotism at the AJC Peachtree Road Race. The largest 10K in the world, it is the 46th running, and a Fourth of July tradition for thousands of people throughout the metro Atlanta area and beyond. The race starts in Buckhead near Lenox Square Mall and ends in Piedmont Park.

The Georgia Aquarium – This Fourth of July, celebrate with unlimited beer samplings, food, live music and fireworks! Red White & Brew will be held in the Oceans Ballroom, with views of our beluga whales, manta rays and whale sharks. After dinner and drinks, head up to the Aquarium’s parking deck rooftop for the city’s best view of the Centennial Olympic Park firework show. The event lasts from 7:00 pm to 10 pm.

Centennial Olympic Park – Centennial Olympic Park’s 4th of July Celebration will offer fun and entertainment for the entire family, including free music and Atlanta’s number one fireworks display. Gates open at 6:00 pm.

Stone Mountain Park – Don’t miss the four day Fantastic Fourth Celebration, July 2-5! Stone Mountain Park and Star 94 present ‘Rockin the Rock’ featuring American Authors and Rachel Platten. The concert will kick off the Fantastic Fourth Celebration on July 2nd. The Lasershow Spectacular and extended fireworks finale will begin at 9:30 pm.

AJC Peachtree Road Race - Atlanta

AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta

Historic Heartland
Madison – This free celebration features live music by the Athens Classic City Band. Bring a picnic, blankets, tables or chairs and join family and friends for the festivities. Music begins at 7 pm, but come early to grab a spot on the lawn or rent a table from the Center for $20 each. Don’t forget to decorate your table; prizes will be given for “Most Patriotic” table decorations.

Athens – Foundry Entertainment & Yuengling present the 7th annual Classic City American Music Festival featuring Dom Flemons, Grassland String Band, Little Country Giants, The Skillet Lickers, Art Rosenbaum and more. This event is family-friendly with 10+ bands, two stages, fried and grilled food, great drinks, BBQ, and fireworks. Music begins at 3:00 pm.

Juliette – Put on your red, white and blue, pack a picnic, and spend a day on the farm. Hear the Declaration of Independence at noon and compete in sack race, three legged race, egg toss, and other events. Watch blacksmiths, woodstove cook, quilters, and other skills of the past at the Jarrell Plantation Historic Site. Events run from 10:30 am until 3:30 pm.

Watkinsville – Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department and Ellis Pain Center present the Oconee 4th of July Spectacular!  Come out for this star spangled celebration and listen to live music and good food. Activities begin at 6:30 pm and run until the fireworks show at 9:30 pm.

Classic South
Augusta – The Annual Yankee Doodle Dash will feature a 5K and 10K race on Augusta Canal Tow Path. The race begins at 8:00 am on Saturday, July 4th. Registration is $15.

Appling – Decorate your bicycle or golf cart and dress-up your best furry friend for a patriotic pet parade through the campground of Mistletoe State Park. Participants of all ages are welcome! The parade begins at 9:30 am.

Waynesboro – Celebrate your independence with Mad Anthony’s Fireworks Show at the Waynesboro-Burke County recreation department. Bring your family and friends and gather around to watch the night sky light up with red, white, and blue from 9-9:30 pm.

Reynolds Plantation Lake Oconee – Reserve your spot at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge for a weekend full of family fun with something for everyone. Activities kick off on Thursday, July 2nd and run until Sunday, July 5th with a concert and fireworks display on Friday night beginning at 7:45 pm!

Waycross – Join in the Independence Day Fun at Laura S. Walker State Park all day long! There is a parking fee of $5.

Savannah – Come celebrate American patriotism at the River Street Fourth of July Celebration! Live music will be featured on the Arbor Stage throughout the night. Grab your chair and get there early to watch the sky light up for the 2015 Fireworks Extravaganza. The event is free and runs from 4:40 pm until 10:00 pm.

St. Simons Island – The Annual St. Simons Island Sunshine Festival held in the Pier Village on St. Simons has been an island tradition for over 60 years. The family fun starts this year on Friday, July 3, 2015, and runs through Sunday, July 5, 2015. Festival hours are 10 am to 5 pm. The fireworks display begins at 9 pm on July 4 in Neptune Park. Bring the family and run in a 1-mile fun run and 5K race. The 1-mile fun run begins at 7:30 am, and the 5K race starts at 8 am. Start/Finish/Registration for both races will be at Mallery Park.

Darien – The annual Independence celebration is on Friday, July 3. Bring your food, lawn chairs, and blankets so you can relax in the breeze of the Darien River while enjoying music by The Bushmen and fireworks at dark. The gates open at 5 pm and the entertainment begins at 6:30 pm. Admission is $10 for adults (beginning at age 13), $5 for children (6-12 years old) and under five years of age are free.

July 4th Festivities - Thomasville

July 4th Festivities in Thomasville

Magnolia Midlands
Dublin – Featuring live musical performances, a huge fireworks display, and lots of kid’s activities, Beach Blast is a free family-friendly event with cornhole and softball tournaments, eating contests, food, water slides, jumpers and more at Southern Pines Park. Stick around for the fireworks display lighting the night sky beginning at dark! Park opens at 11:00 am.

Fitzgerald – Visit Paulk Park on July 4 for fireworks, free Cokes, hotdogs, music and contests for all ages.

Douglas – Complete with vendors, live entertainment and some of the best fireworks in South Georgia, Freedom Fest is one of the premier Independence Day celebrations in the region. Tailgate or come into the stands at JC Adams Municipal Park to enjoy the show. Gates open at 4 p. on July 4, 2015. Admission is free.

Statesboro – Head out to Mill Creek Park for the July 4th Firecracker Fest! Complete with games and activities for all ages and a great selection of food, this celebration is sure to keep you busy. Starting at 3:00 pm with a tennis tournament, the park will host live music and a spectacular fireworks display starting at 9:00 pm.

Plantation Trace
Thomasville – Head over to downtown Thomasville for a community-wide Independence Day celebration, complete with food, fireworks and fun! Enjoy watermelon slices, fun activities, face painting, food vendors and more! Admission is free and festivities begin at 6:30 pm.

Adel – Spend your 4th of July weekend right whether it be camping at the park, spending the day out on the lake, or competing in the Corn Hole and Putt Putt Golf tournaments. Bring the kids out for a bike parade and face painting in the campground. Corn Hole Tournament begins at 1:00 pm at $5.00 a team. The Putt Putt Golf Tournament starts at 3:00pm with a $2.00 a person admission fee. The Bike Parade kicks off at 5:00pm and the decoration supplies for bikes will be provided!

Valdosta – Join in on the wild fun for fireworks and some all-American fun as we celebrate our country on the 4th of July!  Experience one of the South’s largest and most patriotic fireworks display. Wild Adventures honors the military during our Independence Day celebration with free admission, July 3 – 5 for all active or retired military, disabled veterans and reservists with a valid US military ID. Family and friends of members of the military receive $10 off one-day admission or $5 off two-day admission at the park when accompanied by a service member.

Albany – Downtown Albany is offering a plethora of different activities all around town starting on Friday, July 3rd! Many shops and restaurants are offering discounts and drink specials. Join everyone at Riverfront Park for an outside screening of The Lego Movie. Live music at Veteran’s Park begins at 5:30 pm followed by a fireworks display at the Albany Civic Center at 9:30 pm.

Presidential Pathways
Callaway Gardens – The celebration begins early and lasts well into the night at our annual July 4th Star Spangled Beach Party at Robin Lake Beach. There will be live music, bands, fireworks and lots of fun. All events are at Robin Lake Beach area unless otherwise noted, are weather dependent and subject to change. Admission fee is required to enjoy the festivities!

Columbus – Florence Marina State Park invites you to attend the annual 4th of July activities on July 4th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. There will be boat rides, crafts and games available for the whole family! Cost is only $1-$5 for craft fee, $5 for boat ride and there is a $5 parking fee.

Manchester – Gear up for an elaborate evening at Manchester Mill on July 3. This is an annual event featuring great food and activities for all ages. Entertainment is on tap throughout the evening until the celebration begins. A spectacular firework show at 10 pm will start your Independence celebration here in Meriwether County. Please join us for the county’s largest event on July 3 with free admission!

Cordele – Catch the SAM Shortline at the Georgia Veterans State Park to enjoy a July 4th BBQ dinner  over beautiful Lake Blackshear then sit back for an exciting evening train ride through the Sumter County countryside. Upon your return, you’ll watch the fireworks from the train while parked on the Lake Blackshear trestle. Ticket price includes meal. The trip will run from 7:30 pm until 10:00 pm.

For more ideas, visit Explore Georgia’s Fourth of July Events listings!

Independence Day on the Georgia Coast

When you head to Georgia’s Coast this Independence Day holiday, there’s much more to do than just see fireworks. The state’s coastal towns have their own annual Fourth of July celebrations in addition to other family-friendly festivals and events planned.

Independence Day on the Georgia Coast

Photo Credit: Nancy J. Friedman Public Relations, Inc.

Summer Classic Movies at the Ritz (July 2, 2015) – Get into the patriotic spirit by stopping by The Ritz Theatre to see a showing of the classic James Cagney movie Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Brunswick’s Old Fashioned 4th of July (July 4, 2015) – Mary Ross Waterfront Park is home to an evening filled with family-friendly fun. There will be free watermelon slices, live musical entertainment, games and a fireworks display set to patriotic music to wrap up the evening.

Red, White & Blues on the Bluff (July 3, 2015) – Hosted by the Darien-McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce, this festival invites residents and visitors to the shores of the river to listen to live bands and chow down on food from vendors while they wait for the fireworks display to start.

Canons Across the Marsh at Fort King George Historic Site (July 4, 2015) – Artillery drills, musket firing and activities to get you better acquainted with a soldier’s life are on the schedule for this Independence Day at the Site. Also, free watermelon and lemonade will be served.

Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island Independence Day Celebration (July 4, 2015) – Jekyll Island will be celebrating the holiday all day on July 4th with beaches open and historical grounds begging for exploration. In the evening, gather near the Jekyll Island Convention Center to see the fireworks display.

Sunday Funday on Jekyll Island (July 5, 2015) – Bring a picnic from a local restaurant or snack shop and spend the afternoon on the Village Green where there will be a magician and face painter ready to entertain the kids.

Independence Day Colonial Faire at For Morris Historic Site (July 4, 2015) – Offering period appropriate games of skill, colonial music, musket firings, cannon firings and the usual park recreation opportunities, you family’s day at the park also comes with free admission in honor of the holiday.

Richmond Hill
Independence Day Celebration at Fort McAllister State Park (July 4, 2015) – Bring your family to the park to celebrate Independence Day like it’s 1864. There will be games, food, living history demonstrations, canon firing and musket demonstrations throughout the day in addition to the park’s other recreational activities.

River Street Fourth of July Celebration (July 4, 2015) – Starting at 4 p.m. town visitors and residents are invited to River Street to celebrate Independence Day, Savannah style. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at dark.

Starland District’s First Friday Art March (July 3, 2015) – Explore local art and culture by experiencing the monthly art walk. July’s March will include an indie market, kids art activities and free trolley service.

Sea Island
The resort community has family-friendly fun planned from July 1-5, 2015 including the Family Olympics, the Ice Cream Sundae Challenge, a fun run, barbecue, luau, parade, fireworks and much more! The entire schedule of events is available as a PDF here.

St. Marys
4th of July Celebration (July 4, 2015) – Family-friendly fun lasts all day long on Independence Day in the quaint Georgia town of St. Marys. From a parade to arts and crafts to food vendors to rides for kids to a street dance, there’s something for everyone. At night, there will be one of the largest fireworks displays in the Southeastern United States lighting up the sky.

St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island Sunshine Festival (July 3-5, 2015) – Pier Village is home to the festival that highlights the region’s best art including painting, pottery, jewelry, woodcraft, photography and garden art in addition to the annual 1 mile fun run, 5K race and July 4th fireworks display.

A Little Light Music Concert featuring Mason Waters and the Groove Allstars (July 5, 2015) – Locals and visitors are invited to gather on the grounds of the historic St. Simons Lighthouse for an evening concert before heading to face the workweek.

Tybee Island
Fourth of July Fireworks on the Pier (July 3, 2015) – You can spend your day on the beach, visiting friends, and taking advantage of local dining but be sure to leave enough time to head to the Pier on Tybee Island where they’ll shoot off fireworks around 9:00 p.m. on Independence Day.

Market at the Light House (July 5, 2015) – Shake off the Saturday revelry for a relaxing morning browsing the food, goods and more at the market.

Eileen 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.

Women’s Sports in Georgia

Women’s sports teams often focus on providing to those communities that they call home, and empowering women and girls through the power of athletics. Fans so often go out and support their local school or college or little league teams, but don’t always realize Georgia has leagues and teams for adults. Here are some of the professional and semi-professional women’s sports teams that call Georgia home:

Atlanta Dream

Atlanta Dream

When the Atlanta Dream made it to the WNBA Finals in 2013 for the third time in four years, the team’s fans were ecstatic. While they have yet to claim that elusive title, the Dream are still one of the most successful teams in the Eastern Conference, reaching the playoffs every season since 2009. The Dream play at the top level and thrill fans with season promotions ranging from their Heritage Series to Kids Day, from Dream Pink to Faith & Family Night.

And in Augusta, the semi-professional Georgia-Lina Lady Hurricanes compete in the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL). Many of the players originally played school ball in the Augusta area and played college hoops in the South, competing with and against each other. The team hosted their first annual Season Kick-Off Tournament this year, featuring teams from the community.

Atlanta Silverbacks Women

Atlanta Silverbacks Women

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup currently occuring in Canada, women’s sports are on the world’s biggest stage. And while none of the Atlanta Silverbacks Women were called up to their national sides for this tournament, they are still providing quality entertainment for fans here in Georgia. The Silverbacks play in the highly competitive W-League, which they most recently won in 2011.

Georgia also has a presence in W-20, which is the adult-amateur under-20 women’s league associated with W-League. The Georgia Revolution in Conyers have increased their program to include a W-20 team this year, and the Atlanta Metros FC regularly field a side, though are focusing on local leagues for the 2015 season. Both programs offer extensive opportunities for player development in youth local and travel leagues.

Savannah Sabers

Savannah Sabers

Georgia hosts several women’s football teams across three different leagues. The North Atlantic Division of the Women’s Football Allliance (WFA) features the Atlanta Phoenix and Savannah Sabers. The Phoenix have experienced great success in the North Atlantic Division and enjoy a dedicated fangroup known as the Phoenatics. The Sabers were unable to field a team this season, but look forward to returning to competitive play in 2016. The Sabers say their “vision is a community of strong, independent, confident women and girls where the game of football with empower females.”

Focused on a drive to “empwer women through athletics and serve the greater Atlanta community,” the Atlanta Heartbreakers compete in the Women’s Spring Football League (WSFL). Between playing in the WSFL, and having orginally played in the WFA, the Heartbreakers have won three division titles.

The 2014 Legends Football League (LFL) Eastern Conference Champions also play in metro Atlanta. The Atlanta Steam began playing in 2013 and within two seasons were already playing in the title game. They join several other Georgia sports teams playing out of the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Soul City Sirens

Soul City Sirens

Roller Derby
The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), a leading organization for roller derby in the US and abroad, has a heavy presence in Georgia. The Atlanta Rollergirls were one of the founding leagues of the WFTDA and hosted the Champioinship in 2012. The league fields four home teams as well as three travel teams. The Classic City Rollergirls field two travel teams out of Athens and host biannual boot camps for anyone interested in learning to derby. In Augusta, the Soul City Sirens have partnered with local partners to benefit the community, all the while throwing down on the rink of the Columbia County Exhibition Center. And the Savannah Derby Devils feature two travel teams, as well as a junior team for theose female skaters aged 10-17 who are intersted in trying out the sport.

Outside of the ‘big-league’ derby teams, the WFTDA sponsors an apprenticeship program for aspiring member leagues. Here in Georgia, the Marietta Derby Darlins in Cobb County and the Muscogee Roller Girls in Columbus compete as apprentice leagues. Additionally, teams such as the Middle Georgia Derby Demons in Macon, Rome Rollergirls and War Town Bombshells in Warner Robins compete individually according to WFTDA rules.

Atlanta Harlequins

Atlanta Harlequins

The sport of rugby is quickly growing in popularity, and Georgia is no exception to the craze. Several mixed teams and an all-female team are members of the Georgia Rugby Union (GRU), the local branch of USA Rugby. Teams compete in tournaments here in Georgia – from Atlanta to Augusta, from LaFayette to Savannah – as well as all over the country. The Atlanta Harlequins, a member club of GRU, compete in the Women’s Premier League and hosted the 2014 Nations at Life University.

Attack of the Killer Tomato Recipes

For the last six years, the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival has gathered Atlanta’s top chefs and mixologists together to create new dishes for a day of tasting. Each year attendees taste tomato-based food and drinks and while judges pick their favorites as winners. Festival proceeds always go to good causes and there’s some good food along the way.

Killer Tomato Festival

Killer Tomato Festival
Photo Credit: Emily Schultz

In 2014, Bloody Mary Ice Pops by Pastry Chef Chrysta Poulos, the master of pastry for all of Ford Fry’s restaurants, was a crowd favorite. Ready to try these for your next outdoor picnic? I snagged the recipe:

Bloody Mary Ice Pops


4 1/2 cups water
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
7 1/2 cups Bloody Mary mix
6 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cups of your favorite vodka
ZipZicle Ice Pop Bags


  1. Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Refrigerate until very cold.
  3. Grab a large enough container so that all the ingredients can fit at once.  Pour in your chilled simple syrup, then whisk in Bloody Mary, fresh lime juice, and vodka.  Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  4. Find a tall sided container to hold your pops upright.  Using a liquid measure cup with a pouring spout or whatever you have around the kitchen, fill the Zipzicle bags and place upright in your container — they only need to remain upright until frozen, then they can be placed on their sides for easier storage.

Eduardo Guzman, beverage manager at JCT. Kitchen & Bar, The Optimist, and Marcel concocted the cocktail named “All in One Basket,” the 2014 Festival Judge’s Choice cocktail winner. Here is how you can make yours:

All in One Basket


32 oz. Crop Vodka
16 oz. Cocchi Americano
1 quart sun gold tomatoes
1 quart Georgia peaches, sliced and pitted
1/4 cup calabrese peppers
3 dill springs
3 cups lemon juice
Celery salt


  1. Dry out the peppers in the oven for 20 minutes, then soaked the peppers and pulverize them.
  2. Then, combine tomatoes, peaches, and peppers with 2 cups of water in a blender.
  3. Strain out the mixture, and combine with the dill sprigs, about 3 pinches of celery salt, and the lemon juice.
  4. Let it rest for one hour before serving.

2015’s Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival is July 19 at Westside Provisions District in Atlanta. The festival will feature over 40 of the South’s top chefs, more than 20 mixologists, and over 30 farmers competing for prizes while music from Ill Communication and Five Bone Rack, Ford’s all-chef band, keeps the crowd’s spirits up. Festival proceeds benefit Georgia Organics and The Giving Kitchen.

EileenEileen 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.