Turkey Legs & Tunics Take Over Fairburn at the Georgia Renaissance Festival

Photo courtesy of Georgia Renaissance Festival

Photo courtesy of Georgia Renaissance Festival

Hear ye, hear ye! 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Running April 18- June 7 this year, this Georgia festival truly has something for everyone!

Located just north of I-85’s Peachtree City exit, the event offers all the excitement of a 16th Century circus plus there’s free parking. Your ticket gets you entry to all of the festival’s entertainment shows, jousting tournaments, Children’s Play Kingdom, and the Royal Petting Farm.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Renaissance Festival

Photo courtesy of Georgia Renaissance Festival

Though they have an ATM available, you’ll want to be sure to bring cash to pay for the 1 ½ lb smoked turkey legs, pork loin on a stake, giant pretzels, macaroni and cheese on a stick, and meat pies you plan to eat.  Yum… turkey legs. They also will have available a wide variety of desserts as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage options.

Kids (and admittedly, adults) will enjoy the themed rides and games at the festival and those cost some extra dollars too. To save time and hassle in having to say “no,” in my family we give the kids a budget and let them decide how to spend their money on the rides and games.

To save some money, plan on visiting the first weekend of the festival, April 18th and 19th, when adult admission is BOGO when you purchase your tickets online or at the gate.

Have I mentioned that costumes are encouraged? They are and it’s one of the hallmarks of an event like this. Your eyes will be busy all day looking at fair maidens, knights, peasants, and much, much more

Photo courtesy of Georgia Renaissance Festival

Photo courtesy of Georgia Renaissance Festival

Each festival date is people-friendly but there are special dates that are also pet-friendly. On April 25th and 26th, dogs or cats are admitted for $5 each with proper proof of vaccination.

Additional themed dates during this year’s festival include:

  • ·      April 25 & 26 – Roman Weekend
  • ·      May 2 & 3 – Kids Free Weekend
  • ·      May 9 & 10 – Highland Weekend and Mother’s Day
  • ·      May 16 & 17 – Time Warp Weekend
  • ·      May 25 – Deaf Awareness Day
  • ·      May 30 & 31 – Pirates Plunder Weekend

For more information about the festival and to purchase your tickets online visit garenfest.com.

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.

Malts & Vaults at Oakland Cemetery


What do a jousting match, exotic singing birds and the sun god Ra have in common? Why, everyone’s favorite malt beverage, beer, of course!

On Saturday, April 11 historic Oakland Cemetery invites you to explore the backstories of beer in Atlanta at the 7 p.m. special topic tour, Malts & Vaults: Where Beer Meets History. In advance of the tour, we present to you some little-known facts about Oakland Cemetery’s connection to Atlanta’s earliest days as a brew hub:

  1. In the southern frontier days, hops were a rare find. Instead, Atlanta’s first brewers used ingredients like persimmons, squash and molasses to ferment their suds.
  1. Some of Atlanta’s taverns in the late 19th century include the Rough and Ready Tavern in Forest Park, Irby’s Tavern in Buckhead and Whitehall Tavern in the West End.
  1. On July 4, 1866, Fulton Brewery opened its doors and was one of Atlanta’s first breweries. The brewery’s saloon, located in present-day Woodruff Park, sold lager and ale for 5 cents a glass. Oakland Cemetery resident Michael Kries owned and operated Fulton Brewery into the 1870s.
  1. The Kontz family marker at Oakland Cemetery is the cemetery’s only example of Egyptian Revival architecture. Christian Kontz is believed to be one of Atlanta’s earliest partners and brewers at Atlanta City Brewery, which opened in the late 1850s.
  1. One of Atlanta’s famous saloon-keepers was Oakland resident Michael E. Kenny. Though he passed in 1870, the Irish immigrant’s name lives on today in downtown Atlanta, where a statue of him can be found at Underground Atlanta’s Kenny’s Alley.

Although beer won’t be served during the tour, attendees are invited to visit Oakland’s neighbor’s for some special deals. With a Malts & Vaults tour receipt, attendees receive $5 off any purchase at Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House, and guests will also get coupons for $1 off purchases at My Friend’s Growler Shop.

maltsvaultscrowdMalts & Vaults: Where Beer Meets History is based off of the acclaimed book by Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle, Atlanta Beer: A Heady History of Brewing In the Hub of the South. Autographed copies of the book will be available for sale in Oakland Cemetery’s Visitors Center & Museum Shop.

Malts & Vaults: Where Beer Meets History is $12 for adults, $6 for students and seniors 65+ (with valid ID) and free for Historic Oakland Foundation members. To order tickets, please visit www.ticketalternative.com. For more information about this and other special topic tours at Oakland, visit www.oaklandcemetery.com.

Things to Do in Augusta During the Masters Tournament

Photo courtesy of Masters Tournament

Photo courtesy of Masters Tournament

Fabulous food, music and Augusta history are all available for visitors to Augusta during Masters Week, and provide an opportunity to experience Augusta’s southern hospitality. There are a number of off-the-course attractions and activities open to the public.

Saturday, April 4th
Full Moon Hike
Phinizy Swamp
Augusta, Georgia

Admission: FREE
From the summer serenade of tree frogs to the soothing calls of Barred Owls, the sounds of the Swamp come alive at night! Join us as we celebrate a walk in the light of a full moon.
Visit PhinizyCenter.org for more information.
Monday, April 6th
Mayors’ Masters Reception
Augusta Common
Downtown Augusta, Georgia

Admission: $12
This annual event is held each year. Attendees are invited to sample food from local restaurants and enjoy family festivities. The program will honor those who have contributed to the game of golf. This year’s honoree will be Augusta native Carl Jackson. Jackson had caddied 53 times at the Masters Tournament and will be the first non-golfer to be honored during this event.
Call 706.823.6600 for details or go to VisitAugusta.com .
Tuesday, April 7 – Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jessye Norman School of the Arts
Downtown Augusta, Georgia

Garden City Jazz and the Jessye Norman School of the Arts combine creative forces to present JAZZ MASTERS, a pop-up jazz club in historic downtown Augusta during Masters Week 2015.
Visit GardenCityJazz.com for more information.

Tuesday, April 7th
Rock Fore! Dough Concert
Lady Antebellum Pavilion at Evans Towne Center Park
Evans, Georgia

Admission: $30 – 35
The 11th Annual Drive for Show, Rock Fore! Dough is Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at the Lady Antebellum Pavilion in Evans Towne Center Park. Darius Rucker returns to Augusta to headline the show, which will also feature performances from Sam Hunt, A Thousand Horses and Phillip Lee, Jr.
Visit RockForeDough.com for ticket and event information.
Thursday, April 9th
The Major Rager
The Augusta Common
Downtown Augusta, Georgia

Admission: $30 – 100
Get ready for an unforgettable night with Gov’t Mule, Lettuce, The Revivalists, and an After Party with Omega Moos.

Visit TheMajorRager.com for ticket and event information.
Friday, April 10th
Augusta Canal Moonlight Music Cruise
Augusta Canal Discovery Center
Downtown Augusta, Georgia

Admission: $25
Enjoy live music aboard a replica Petersburg Boat. Bring refreshments of your choice and be delighted by the sounds of Mike Frost and Lauren Maccia, an excellent Jazz Duo. Reservations are required.

Visit AugustaCanal.com for more information.

Saturday, April 11th
The Whigs
Sky City
Downtown Augusta, Georgia

The Whigs are an American garage rock band from Athens, Georgia, consisting of lead singer and guitarist Parker Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio and bassist Timothy Deaux and will be performing at Sky City the night before the final round of the 2015 tournament.

2015 Exhibitions:
American Dreams: Paintings by John Mellencamp
Morris Museum of Art
Downtown Augusta, Georgia
Tuesday, April 7th – Sunday, April 12th

This exhibition features fifty oil and mixed-media paintings, some of which have never been seen by the public, by legendary rock-and-roll star John Mellencamp. Mellencamp’s work seems to mirror certain aspects of the contemporary South and its past.

Visit TheMorris.org for more information.
In Celebration of Golf: Landscapes by Linda Hartough
Morris Museum of Art
Downtown Augusta, Georgia
Tuesday, April 7th – Sunday, April 12th

Perhaps golf’s leading artist, Linda Hartough graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1970. She made a living as a professional artist in Chicago until 1980, when she moved to South Carolina. She painted landscapes, portraits, and horses until 1984, when Augusta National Golf Club commissioned her to paint the famed thirteenth hole, which began her career as a golf landscape artist. Her work has since gained international fame. The only artist ever commissioned by the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews to do the annual, official paintings and prints for the U.S. Open and British Open Championships, she has painted golf courses from Scotland to China. Her paintings are in the collections of the Augusta National, Pine Valley, and Laurel Valley golf clubs and in many private collections, including those of Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones.

Visit TheMorris.org for more information.
Celebrating a Grand Tradition, the Sport of Golf
Augusta Museum of History
Downtown Augusta, Georgia
Sunday, April 5th – Sunday, April 12th

Explore the history of golf and its legacy in Augusta. Exhibit includes two galleries, totaling over 2,000 square feet.

Jeff Tilden Art Exhibition
Sacred Heart Cultural Center
Downtown Augusta, Georgia  
Known for his mastery of horticulture and gardening, Jeff Tilden has begun painting scenes that he wants to see. He seeks inspiration always, and hopes people feel good when in his places and looking at his work. Exhibit through April 30, 2015.

Visit SacredHeartAugusta.org for more information.

Trolley Tours:
Historic Trolley Tours of Augusta
Augusta Visitor Center
Downtown Augusta, Georgia
Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., Thursday at 10:30 a.m., and Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Admission: $15
Board the Lady Liberty trolley and explore Augusta’s Historic Downtown. You will see historic homes, hear about the bones in the basement of the Medical College of Georgia, see where a U.S. president lived as a boy, get a glimpse of the Augusta Canal and hear the legend of the famous Haunted Pillar. Price includes admission to the Augusta Museum of History, where you can explore Augusta’s journey through time. Advance reservations are required.
Call the Augusta Visitor Center today to reserve your spot at 706.724.4067
Augusta Golf Heritage Trolley Tours
Augusta Visitor Center
Downtown Augusta, Georgia
Mondays at 10:30 a.m.

Admission: $21.50
“All Aboard” for history, legends and more! Participate in an amazing sightseeing journey and discover grand hotels, golf courses and other historical sites that played key roles in Augusta’s transformation into the golf capital of the world.
Call SouthStar Trolley at 706.432.8883 to make your reservations today!
Augusta Black History Trolley Tours
Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History
Downtown Augusta, Georgia
Fridays at 10 a.m.

Admission: $15

The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History Trolley Tour is a one-hour experience that takes patrons to over 25 significant historic sites related to Augusta’s Black history. Price includes admission and tour at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History.
Visit LucyCraftLaneyMuseum.com to make your reservations today!
For more information about these and other events in Augusta, Georgia, please contact the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau at 877.AUGUSTA.

Celebrate a Georgia Legend at the Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival

Tab Benoit performs at the 2013 Blind Willie Blues Festival. Photo by Jason B. Smith.

Tab Benoit performs at the 2013 Blind Willie Blues Festival. Photo by Jason B. Smith.

Recognized as a top event by Southeast Tourism Society and the Wall Street Journal; the Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival debuted in 1993 and has been going strong ever since. Still staged in the same grassy field it debuted in almost 22 years ago. This year’s event is May 9, 2015.

The festival is named for Blind Willie McTell, one of the all-time greats of country blues guitar, who was born just south of Thomson, Georgia, in the area known as Happy Valley in McDuffie County. He was inducted posthumously into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1990. One of his most famous songs, “Statesboro Blues”, has been a staple for blues bands for decades and has been covered by artists such as The Allman Brothers Band and Taj Mahal. Many musicians consider McTell an influence, including Bob Dylan, who paid tribute to him with his song “Blind Willie McTell”.

From the beginning the festival wasn’t just about the blues, but rather a celebration of roots music. You could hear Americana, Cajun influences, Country and touches of Funk and Soul.  The kind of musical event Blind Willie himself would have really enjoyed. Many past performers have been American Music Award winners and Grammy nominees. The laid back vibe of the festival creates a great atmosphere to mix and mingle, get up and dance, or just seat back and sip an ice cold beer while enjoying some fantastic music.

Come for the music but you will get even more; there is a wide variety of food available from local food vendors, the local arts council has a booth with blues and music related art for sale; not to mention lots of camaraderie and people watching.

The 2015 lineup stars Marcia Ball, John Hammond, the Golden State-Lone Star Revue, Chris Smither, Mingo Fishtrap, and the Bruce Katz Band. Tickets will be on sale March 1st at www.blindwillie.com. Prices for tickets are $30 advance and $40 the day of. There is no charge for children, ages 12 and under. Gates open at 11 in the morning, with music beginning at noon.

TIP: You can visit the gravesite of McTell on Happy Valley Road adjoining Jones Grove Baptist Church. Pay a visit to the McDuffie Museum housed inside a former bank in downtown and see artifacts like the original tombstone of Blind Willie. Visit the gift shop for a memorable souvenir like a DVD documentary about the musician.  Free admission.

The Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival is held in a field one mile north of Interstate 20 at Thomson, Ga., Exit 172. (It’s about two hours east of Atlanta.)

Visit the festival website at www.blindwillie.com.

For more info about Thomson, visit www.exploremcduffiecounty.com.

15 Ways to Celebrate Easter in Georgia

Easter 2009 at Callaway Gardens. Photo by UGArdener via Flickr.

Easter 2009 at Callaway Gardens. Photo by UGArdener via Flickr.

Don your favorite bonnet and prepare to celebrate Easter in Georgia!