Top 5 Must-Do Savannah Food & Wine Events

The Savannah Food & Wine Festival showcases restaurants, pubs, chefs, mixologists and the foods that make Savannah a true culinary mecca. With must-experience events like the World’s Largest Low Country Boil, Secret Speakeasy, Wine Tastings and Artisanal Dinners, this year’s festival promises to offer a tasty treat for everyone.

Lowcountry Boil at the Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Lowcountry Boil. Photo courtesy of Savannah Food & Wine Festival.

1. World’s Largest Lowcountry Boil, Nov. 7. Turn in your ticket, and you’re going to get a big plate of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn, Vidalia onions and garlic seasoned with Georgia-grown ingredients. The entire family can enjoy a heaping plate of Lowcountry Boil along with an “All You Can Eat Side Fixin’s Bar.” Shrimp eating contests and more provide plenty of fun for all!

2. Secret Savannah Speakeasy, Nov. 12. This event will take place in a secret location at the Georgia State Railroad Museum, and you must have a “Golden Ticket” to find out where. Once inside, sip hand-crafted cocktails and craft brews while enjoying a wide array of music and entertainment, reminiscent of Savannah’s prohibition heydays. Wear your best prohibition-era attire for a chance to win some great prizes!

oysters at the Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Photo courtesy of Savannah Food & Wine Festival

3. Artisanal Supper at The Landings, Nov. 13. In this luxurious setting, you will get the VIP treatment while rubbing elbows with the artists behind the art of culinary. Here you’ll meet James Beard Foundation award-winning and nominated chefs, Master Sommeliers, winemakers, regional and nationally recognized talent – all while enjoying expertly prepared Southern dishes washed down with perfectly paired wines and cocktails.

4. Master Class Series at the Mansion, Nov. 9-13. With several seminars spread over several festival days, you are bound to find a class that tickles your fancy. At the Mansion at Forsyth Park, let celebrity chefs, wine, spirits and beer experts that put this festival on the map guide you on a culinary journey into the 700 Cooking School or Wine Cellar tasting room. Here you will learn culinary techniques through smell, taste and touch.

Bartender's Challenge at the Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Watch the “Best of the Best” at the Bartender’s Challenge. Photo courtesy of Savannah Food & Wine Festival.

5. Bartender’s Challenge, Nov. 14. Back by popular demand, this is a staple at Taste of Savannah. Watch as your favorite bartenders compete in creating the most innovative and tasty cocktails of the year. This challenge will prove just who is the “Best of the Best.” Admission is only $10 at each competition round and comes with a free drink. The finals will take place during Taste of Savannah on November 14.

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 the Savannah Food & Wine Festival Nov. 13, when she will host a Master Class Series and sign books at the Artisanal Supper. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

4 Reasons Georgians should be Thankful for Mules

The Mule Show at the Calvary Mule Festival in Calvary, Ga.

The Mule Show at the Calvary Mule Festival in Calvary, Ga.

1.)  Mules helped grow Southern farms in the years following the Revolutionary War, establishing the South as a rich agricultural area. Northerners rejected mules, favoring oxen and horses instead. Southerners preferred mules. According to the American Mule Museum, “One farmer with two mules could easily plow 16 acres a day. Mules not only plowed the fields, but they harvested crops and carried the crops to market. On tobacco farms, a mule-drawn planter was used to set the plants in the ground.”

2.)  When World War II led to gas rationing, mules kept farmers profitable. Years after being replaced by gasoline-powered engines and tractors, mules (and their fuel efficiency) once again worked farms.

3.)  Without mules, there would be no city of Gainesville. Three years after the Georgia legislature established Hall County in North Georgia, the village of Mule Camp Springs was chosen to be the site of the county seat. The name of the town was changed to Gainesville in honor of War of 1812 hero General Edmund P. Gaines. Each year, the town honors its history with the Mule Camp Market Festival.

4.)  Without mules, there would be no Mule Day festival. For decades, the small town of Calvary, 20 miles from Tallahassee, Fla., has hosted the festival on the first weekend in November. It celebrates the Southern history of the mule and gives tens of thousands of visitors to the town a reason to relax and enjoy a parade (featuring mules, of course), more than 450 arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment, and a mule show.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen 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.

Explore Georgia’s Autumn Harvest Festivals

Georgia is known for peaches, but there is so much more than that harvested in the state throughout the year. Each autumn, communities come together to celebrate their heritage, the harvest and have a little fun.

Rocktoberfest at Rock City

Rocktoberfest at Rock City

Rocktoberfest (Oct. 3-25, Rock City) – Each year, Rock City celebrates its German heritage and the harvest on weekends in October. The fun also includes live German music, polka lessons, traditional German food, the Fall Fairy, the Troll King and live raptor shows.

Jeff Davis Cotton Festival (Oct. 16-17, Hazelhurst) – Traditional fair fun comes to Hazelhurst every year and includes a harvest carnival, vendors, food, a car show, a beauty pageant, music and a demolition derby.

Georgia’s Official Sorghum Festival (Oct. 10-18, Blairsville) – Sorghum smells as sweet as it tastes, and this festival is pretty sweet, too. In addition to celebrating the harvest, families can enjoy traditional fun, including log sawing, biscuit eating, pole climbing and rock throwing.

Hop Harvest Festival (Oct. 24, Athens) – Terrapin Beer Company invites Athens residents, guests and their families to their annual celebration of the hop harvest, which includes the unveiling of their latest hoppy brew. 

Crane Creek Vineyards Annual Harvest Festival (Oct. 24, Young Harris) – Hayrides, grape stomping, tours of the winery, and a kid art tent are all on the agenda when Crane Creek Vineyards opens its property to revelers each year to celebrate the end of the grape harvest season.

Chiaha Harvest Fair (Oct. 24-26, Rome) – Artisans and craftsman from North Georgia come together each year at harvest time to raise money to support local arts initiatives, and you’re invited!

Hunters Harvest Fall Festival Arts & Crafts Show (Oct. 31, Douglasville) – Hunter Memorial Park is the home to this festival, which includes a pumpkin pie cook-off, costume competition, kids carnival, and pumpkin carving competition.

Cotton Gin Festival, Madison

Cotton Gin Festival, Madison

Bostwick’s Cotton Gin Festival (Nov. 7, Madison) – Celebrate the heritage of Georgia with a festival featuring a parade, arts and crafts for sale, traditional fair food and visits to Madison’s shops and restaurants.

Toccoa Harvest Festival (Nov. 7-8, Toccoa) – Head to Toccoa to get a taste of regional and international foods, enjoy a classic car cruise-in, check out the petting zoo, enjoy a horse and buggy ride, see farm displays and more. There will also be live music, arts and crafts for sale, and rides specifically for kids.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen 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.

Halloween in Georgia State Parks

Trick-or-treat at spooky campgrounds, hike haunted trails, and tell ghost stories around the campfire with Georgia State Parks this Halloween.

Roasting marshmallows on Halloween

Roasting marshmallows on Halloween. Photo by Candy Cook

Moonlight Madness – General Coffee, Oct. 24 1 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Get spooky during Moonlight Madness at General Coffee State Park. The all-day Halloween Festival on Oct. 24 features a haunted house, haunted hiking, and ghost story hayrides.

Kids Halloween Carnival – George L Smith, Oct. 24 6-8 p.m.
Get your tickets an eerie evening of trick-or-treat, spooky fun and ghoulish games during George L Smith’s Kids Halloween Carnival.

Panola Trunk or Treat & Incognito Night Hike, Oct. 30
Decorate your trunk and come in costume for an afternoon trunk-or-treat with spooky contests from 2 – 4 p.m. Stay for a sunset hike starting at 6 p.m., followed by a lakeside campfire with tricks and treats.

Red Top Mountain Halloween, Oct. 31
Plan a full day of fun at Red Top Mountain. Kids kickoff Halloween at 10 a.m. creating ghoulish crafts, followed by building bat boxes after lunch. When evening falls, dress up in costume for a trick-or-treat around the campground.

High Falls Spooky Halloween, Oct. 31 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Come in costume to explore the park on a creepy crawly evening hike in search of bugs, spiders, and bats. Afterward, enjoy campfire stories and smores.

Halloween sparkler

Halloween sparkler. Photo by Candy Cook

Vogel Halloween Festival, Oct. 31 4-8 p.m.
Come trick-or-treat Vogel’s haunted campground and stay for Halloween games, crafts, and costume contests.

Octoberfest – Florence Marina, Oct. 31 6-9 p.m.
Florence Marina invites all the ghosts and ghouls to Octoberfest on the 31st from 6-9pm. Dress up for the costume contest, and enjoy a haunted hayride. Games & vendors serve up food and fun.

Cloudland Canyon and Tallulah Gorge State Parks both invite trick-or-treaters to seek treats from decorated cars at their Halloween night Trunk-or-Treat events.

Pumpkin Carving Contests
Get into the Halloween spirit with pumpkin carving contests at Fort Yargo and Providence Canyon State Parks on the 31st.

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.

5 Things Not to Miss at the Georgia National Fair

Georgia National Fair

Georgia National Fair. Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

All the animals – At the Georgia National Fair, whether you’re set on spending serious time in the petting zoo or watching the pig races or mutton bustin’, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to bring cash for the petting zoo so you can grab some chow for the goats, yak, camel, zebras and African Watusi.

The food – When I was there this week I grabbed a smoked pork chop sandwich from the Houston County FFA booth, but I was sure to leave room for funnel cakes, sausage and cotton candy. You’ll want to be sure to leave room, too, because the fair offers much more than what you’d typically find at similar events.

The arts and crafts – You don’t have to be shopping to glance inside the air-conditioned buildings, where you can marvel at the talent Georgia’s artisans and artists possess. The vendors there prefer cash but will accept credit and debit cards.

Ride the rides – For those with sensitive stomachs there’s the Ferris wheel, but as your tolerance gets higher, take a ride on the swings, the Wild Mouse mini-coaster and several rides that will spin you upside down as you rotate in a circle.

The competition – Students and adults work hard throughout the year, and the fair is their opportunity to show off their horses, cows, pigs and sheep. Head to their competitions in the ring and the barn to take a peek at the animals. The kids will especially love seeing the animals in the barns.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen 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.