5 Things You Didn’t Know About Lavender

Red Oak Lavender Farm in Dahlonega, Ga. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Red Oak Lavender Farm in Dahlonega, Ga. Photo courtesy Facebook.

It’s purple and pretty and plays a big part in Georgia’s economy as a crop, natural remedy and ingredient. Here’s what you didn’t know about lavender:

The scent deters pests. As a natural way to keep mice, mosquitos and flies away, plant it in your garden or harvest the flowers for in-home decorations.

It can help you get a good night’s sleep. Whether you’re at home or staying in one of Georgia’s beautiful historic hotels, bed and breakfasts, or resorts, having the scent of lavender in your room can help you rest more peacefully.

There’s a lavender farm in Georgia. The first and only North Georgia lavender farm is located in the heart of the state’s wine country and features over 850 plants. Red Oak Lavender Farm is open year-round for tours but recommends visitors come in June when the harvest is at its peak.

For added fun, save the date to attend the second annual Lavender Festival at Red Oak Lavender Farm on June 4.

It’s in the same plant family as mint. Though it’s not the same type of mint, it is worth noting that the Dahlonega Mint was a branch of the United States Mint established in north Georgia during the Georgia Gold Rush. Coins made in the Dahlonega Mint were produced from 1838–1861. 

You can cook with it! Use the plant to spice your cookies, pork or custard. In the past, Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah has made its frozen treat featuring lavender, and just down the street, Back in the Day Bakery has featured lavender shortbread cookies.

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.

Swainsboro’s Pine Tree Festival & Mill Pond Kayak Adventure

The parade at the Pine Tree Festival is quite a sight. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

The parade at the Pine Tree Festival is quite a sight. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

Swainsboro’s Pine Tree Festival & Southern Timber Expo continues its reign as Georgia’s longest running festival with outdoor adventures, live music and family-friendly events. My affinity for Georgia’s pines and the history of our connection with this natural resource brought me to Swainsboro for this classic Southern tradition.

Shrimp and grits at Berni's on West Main in Swainsboro. Photo by Candy Cook.

Shrimp and grits at Berni’s on West Main in Swainsboro. Photo by Candy Cook.

Mouthwatering meals at Berni’s on West Main go hand in hand with the The Rhythm & Pines Live Music Festival to kick off the weekend. Locally owned and centrally located, Berni’s serves up delicious Southern classics like shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, steak and wild alligator tail in a welcoming atmosphere with excellent service. Stages with live entertainment are within walking distance around downtown Swainsboro.

FMX Motocross Stunts. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

FMX Motocross Stunts. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

Downtown streets are closed to traffic and offer easy access to the Grand Parade followed by thrilling freestyle motocross stunts performed by Team FMX and an exciting lumberjack challenge. Festival-goers enjoy a great classic car and truck show, splash zone, kids activities, and beauty pageants all weekend. Everyone is encouraged to participate in a 5k, tennis tournament, and bike ride in the days before the big event.

Kayaking in George L Smith State Park with Mill Pond Kayak. Photo by Candy Cook

Kayaking in George L Smith State Park with Mill Pond Kayak. Photo by Candy Cook

There’s no better place to stay and explore than George L Smith State Park. Campsites at the park include full-service hookups right on the edge of Mill Pond, or a primitive hike-in experience. Experience the true beauty of the cypress and tupelo stands on the water with a tour from Mill Pond Kayak. This extraordinary journey leads visitors along 10 miles of beautiful blackwater trails you don’t want to miss.

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

5 Delicious Food Festivals to Kick Off Your Summer

Although summer doesn’t officially start for a few more weeks, don’t let that technicality get in the way of eating your way through these 5 delicious Georgia food festivals.

Eggfest in Hiawassee

Eggfest in Hiawassee

6th Annual Georgia Mountain EggFest, Hiawassee, May 13-14, 2016

Are you an “Egg Head?” Then the 2016 Eggfest is just for you. This foodtastic gathering is for Big Green Egg fans and experienced cooks alike to showcase their grilling skills. Held at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, cooks and tasters will enjoy a full day of amazing food hot off the grill.

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in Atlanta

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in Atlanta

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival, Atlanta, May 21, 2016

Atlantic Station welcomes the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival with 60 beers, 40 bourbons and lots and lots of BBQ to sample during this popular 10th annual event. Come early and sit in on seminars by Master Distillers, Brewmasters, and Pit Masters — and get a free BBBQ collectable bag.

East Atlanta Beer Fest, Atlanta, May 21, 2016

This year’s 13th annual East Atlanta Beer Festival will be held in Brownwood Park. Featuring over 200 craft beers, love music, local food vendors and a souvenir glass, this festival promises to be the perfect way to welcome summer.

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

Bavarianfest, Helen, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day weekend starts this celebration that parties well into the fall. A live Oompa band, dancing, and a festive Bavarian atmosphere in the Festhalle is the perfect backdrop to enjoy imported beer, traditional wines, wursts, sauerkraut and other German favorites. Active military and veterans receive free admission. All other adults are only $7 each.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Atlanta, June 2-5, 2016

Created in 2010, this multi-day food festival includes cooking, cocktail, pairings, and technique classes; unlimited samples in their International Tasting Tents; and specialty dinners and events, like the Wine Lunch and Sunday Brunch. You can buy your festival tickets a la carte or purchase the premier three-day Connoisseur ticket.

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. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

Attending Georgia’s Music Festivals with Kids

Attending 420 Fest in Atlanta with kids

Attending 420 Fest in Atlanta with kids. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

There are a few music festivals that hubby and I attend every year; we just love listening to music under the sun, experiencing the city, and chowing at the food trucks. This year, we did something different: We brought our kiddos!

Our 7-year-old and 3-year-old went with us to Sweetwater 420 Festival at Centennial Olympic Park. I’ll admit, we were nervous. This was our first large music festival with them, but we ended up having a wonderful time! There were a great number of other children there, too!

Thinking of bringing your own kids to one of the summer’s music festivals? Here are a few things we learned that made it an easy adventure.

  1. Bring ear protection. Even when you aren’t in the crowd near the stage, the music can be very loud. It’s important to protect little ears. We found that over-the-ear protection was easier to manage with little ones, and we found affordable solutions at the big chain home improvement stores.
  1. Plan an abbreviated visit. When hubby and I attend a concert, we usually arrive early and stay until the last song of the encore. That doesn’t work work with kiddos, especially young ones. This time, we studied the itinerary and picked the ONE concert we wanted to see each day. If we heard more than one band then that would be a special treat, but our expectations were set for no more than that.
  1. Shade and games are your friends. Pack a Frisbee or a Hacky-sack, and a blanket. Work to secure a spot under the trees so the kids can escape to a shady area when necessary. When they seem restless, offer an ice cream or King of Pops treat – and be sure to get one for yourself!
  1. Expect the best, plan for the worst. Chances are, your kids will be by your side the entire time, but just in case you are separated, make a plan. For older kids, plan a meet-up place, or point out the police and staff uniforms so they know where to go for help. With younger kids, pin your business card or phone number to the back of their shirt.

Trying to decide which Georgia Music Festival to share with your kids? Follow Glen Sarvady, Georgia’s Music Explorer, for more ideas.

LesliLesli Peterson is 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.

Discover May Flowers in North Georgia’s Fairyland

Rock City's Rhododendron Trail

Rock City’s Rhododendron Trail

Atop Lookout Mountain, high in North Georgia where the mountains touch Tennessee, a drive around town reveals street names like Cinderella Road, Red Riding Hood Trail, Pied Piper Street and Tinkerbell Lane. When you’re here, you’re in Fairyland.

Now known as Rock City Gardens, the town that is also an attraction celebrates its heritage and its flowers each year during the Southern Blooms Festival (May 14-15, 2016), an event celebrating Rock City’s founding gardener, Frieda Utermoehlen Carter. It was her vision that helped make Rock City into the attraction it is today.

In addition to seeing the flowers, the festival offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy live harp music, take a historical walking tour though the gardens, savor delicious Southern cuisine, make your own Fairy Garden, get a makeover from a Southern belle and see seven states.

Fireworks Gomphrena

Before you go, be sure to check out this 360-degree tour.

Can’t make it on May 14-15? On May 21, Rock City celebrates its 84th Founder’s Day complete with 84-cent German chocolate fudge.

Fun fact: Lookout Mountain Fairyland Club is the birthplace of miniature golf in the United States. The first course was called Tom Thumb Golf.

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.