Shake Off Boring and Rattle Down the Road to Claxton

By Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources

This side of the Chattahoochee River you’re unlikely to find another festival dedicated to celebrating a poisonous snake quite as fun as the Claxton Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival.

15,000 visitors from all over Georgia, and beyond, flock to Evans County, halfway between Vidalia and Savannah, each year for the family-friendly festival which features captive rattlesnakes, snake handling demonstrations and wildlife educational programs from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Southern University Wildlife Center, Let’s Get Wild, Quails Unlimited, and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Running March 14th and 15th this year, the festival, which has been voted one of the “Top  Twenty Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society, also features a Miss Rattlesnake & Wildlife Pageant, parade, arts and crafts, vendors selling their wares, and more.

While you’re in town visiting the city known as the Fruitcake Capital of the World, be sure to stop by the world-famous Claxton Bakery company store in downtown Claxton.

Want to make a stop at the festival part of your weekend but also want to visit another Georgia city? Vidalia is 40 minutes from downtown Claxton and Savannah is just shy of an hour away by car.

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.

Brunswick Gets All Shook Up 

By Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Photo Courtesy of  Georgia Elvis Festival

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Elvis Festival

Brunswick is about to be all shook up by the annual Georgia Elvis Festival, coming to town March 12-15, 2015.

Locals and visitors are invited to put on their blue suede shoes and stroll along downtown Brunswick where shop windows will be decorated featuring the King of Rock and Roll and stop to listen to live performances in Brunswick’s town squares and Mary Ross Park for ol’ times sake. Additionally there will be two Vegas-style Elvis shows.

While you’re in town for the festival, you’ll be sure to be shoppin’ around at the locally owned stores in the Brunswick Old Town Historic District and on Mallory Street in St. Simons Island or going beyond the reef dining at one of the local seafood restaurants. My favorite laid-back restaurant in the area, Half Shell, is just across the causeway on St. Simons Island.

Heading to Brunswick with your sweetheart? Be sure to snap a selfie at Lover’s Oak (at Prince and Albany Streets), a 900-year old tree said to be the place where Native Americans would meet their romantic partners before England’s colonization of the land.

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.

10 Finger Licking Good Georgia Barbecue Festivals

By Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Photo courtesy of Atlantic Station

Photo courtesy of Atlantic Station

The temperatures are rising and so is the smoke! This year festival gates will open across Georgia for annual these barbecue infused festivals in 2015:

  1. Crowds will gather at Atlantic Station in Atlanta on February 28th for a day offering unlimited tastings of 60 beers and 40 bourbons while noshing on whole hogs of barbecue. Tickets for the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival are on sale now.
  2. In Tifton on March 6th and 7th, the Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival will take over Fulwood Park. Organizers promise a BBQ competition, children’s games, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and entertainment.
  3. Upson County is home to the Smoke on the Water BBQ Festival on April 3rd and 4th in Thomaston. Set on Bickley’s Lake, the event promises a weekend full of fun for your entire family.
  4. The Bikes, Blues, & BBQ Festival at Douglas Municipal – Gene Chambers Airport in Douglas is set for April 10th and 11th in 2015. The annual event will include a BBQ competition, popular blues bands, motorcycle show and poker run, car show, aircraft displays, arts and crafts vendors, and more.
  5. May 1st and 2nd the Barnesville Battle of the Bones Festival takes over the streets of downtown Barnesville with an event is sanctioned by the Florida BBQ Association that is also an automatic qualifier for the Jack Daniels Invitational a.k.a. The Super Bowl of BBQ World Championships.
  6. Atlanta Bar-B-Que Festival is set for August 14th and 15th at the Atlantic Station special events area in Atlanta. The type of festival you better get to early before all the food runs out, the event will feature many of the city’s top barbecue restaurants as well as a “bourbon experience.”
  7. Each year, crowds gather in downtown Kennesaw each year for their Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival. The event features a barbecue competition, tastings, free children’s activities, live concerts alongside arts, crafts and general merchandise vendors.
  8. Head up to the mountains for the annual Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival, scheduled for early autumn in downtown Blue Ridge. This event is the perfect excuse to get away from home and see the fall foliage.
  9. One of my favorite events, The Great Miller Lite Chili and BBQ Cook-Off happens the first weekend in October each year at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers. Benefitting Camp Twin Lakes, the festival is a music and food extravaganza celebrating quirky team competitions.
  10. Professional and amateur BBQ teams will be cooking to compete for some big prize money and bragging rights at the Cornelia Apple Blossom BBQ Festival happening April 17 -18, 2015.

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.

Discover Atlanta’s Black History Aboard the Atlanta Streetcar

By Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Photo courtesy of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Photo courtesy of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

With the recent addition of the Atlanta Streetcar as a transportation option for locals and tourists. Atlanta’s part in America’s black history is more accessible than ever.

Free to ride through March, 2015, the Streetcar has several pick-up points throughout Downtown Atlanta, the Old Fourth Ward, and Sweet Auburn districts of the city.  Here’s where to get off and explore history:

Edgewood at Hilliard – A few blocks south of this stop is Historic Oakland Cemetery, the centuries old burial place for people of Atlanta from all classes and races. Graves of Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African American mayor; Bishop Wesley John Gaines, founder of Morris Brown College; and Carrie Steele Logan, 19th Century founder of Atlanta’s first orphanage for black children which continues today as the Carrie Steel Pitts Home.

King Historic District – This stop is at the Martin Luther King, Jr, National Historic Site where visitors will find multiple sites paying tribute to the civil rights leader including the Birth Home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, The King Center, and the National Park Service Visitor Center.

Sweet Auburn Curb Market

Sweet Auburn Curb Market

Sweet Auburn Market – The Sweet Auburn Historic District is an African-American neighborhood centralized on Auburn Avenue.  On the list of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and as a registered U.S. National Historic Landmark District, Sweet Auburn offers up history alongside modern Atlanta foodie haven the Sweet Auburn Curb Market which offers up cuisine for every palate including my favorite place to grab a burger in Atlanta- Grindhouse Killer Burgers.

Auburn at Piedmont – Just a short walk from the intersection of Auburn at Piedmont you’ll find the APEX Museum, a museum dedicated to presenting history from an African American perspective.

Centennial Olympic Park – Pemberton Place, next to Centennial Olympic Park, is the home of the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and the recently opened National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The center connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements through interactive displays and a multi-cultural experience. Across the part visitors will find the College Football Hall of Fame which features an immersive experience surrounding the game including a special display about Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

On February 28, 2015 the annual Black History Month Parade will march alongside much of the Atlanta Streetcar route. The parade is the largest celebration of Black History Month in the United States.

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.

5 Ways to Make Your Savannah Book Festival Experience Spookier

By Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Colonial Park Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Flickr user MrTinDC.

Colonial Park Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Flickr user MrTinDC.

This year’s Savannah Book Festival (February 12-15, 2015) features acclaimed spooky stories author Anne Rice as one of it’s featured authors and if you’re coming to town for the event, here are five ways to enhance your trip with the city’s spooky surroundings:

1.)  Take a ghost tour. Savannah is famed for their ghost tours and there are several tour groups that take people around the city either on foot or by trolley.

2.)  Stay at a haunted hotel. Whether you’re booked at the Foley House Inn, a bed and breakfast where human skeletal remains discovered behind a wall have set off an otherworldly chain of events or The Marshall House which served as a Federal Hospital during Sherman’s March to the Sea, there’s a type of haunted lodging for everyone.

3.)  Have a beer at a local pub. Considered one of Savannah’s most haunted attractions, Moon River Brewing Company on West Bay Street, the building was originally the City Hotel, built in 1821. Today they brew their own beer with a rotating, seasonal selection on tap.

4.)  Walk through one of Savannah’s cemeteries. Though not all of Savannah’s cemeteries claim to be haunted, many are well worth a walk through.  Colonial Park Cemetery on Abercorn Street has the spookiest reputation and is the final resting place of most of Savannah’s original inhabitants.

5.)  See a house featured in a famous Savannah novel. The backdrop in the famous novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Mercer Williams House on Monterey Square was the site of the infamous murder, which resulted in in four murder trials in the 1980s.  Today, the house is home to The Mercer Williams House Museum.

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.