5 Festivals That Kickoff Summer in Georgia

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kickoff for summer throughout the United States, and Georgia hosts numerous festivals throughout the weekend. Join the party at these family-friendly festivals across the state!

Hello Summer Festival (St. Marys)

The LandSharks, a Buffet/Beach Boys tribute band, will perform at the Hello Summer Festival in St. Marys.

The LandSharks, a Buffet/Beach Boys tribute band, will perform at the Hello Summer Festival in St. Marys.

Th annual Hello Summer Festival on the Georgia Coast mixes music, fun, food, arts and crafts together to make a full day of family-friendly fun. The 2016 festival will be held May 28. Admission is free.

Decatur Arts Festival (Decatur)

Decatur Arts Festival courtesy of Facebook.

Decatur Arts Festival courtesy of Facebook.

Downtown Decatur comes alive with live music, performance art, a children’s parade and festival, food, drinks and a juried Artist’s Market during the Decatur Arts Festival. The 2016 festival is set for May 28-29. Admission is free.

Spring Arts in the Park (Blue Ridge)

Spring Arts in the Park in Blue Ridge, courtesy of Facebook.

Spring Arts in the Park in Blue Ridge, courtesy of Facebook.

Downtown Blue Ridge transforms into a full-blown art festival each year during the Spring Arts in the Park festival, which benefits the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association. In 2016, the festival will be held May 28-29. Admission is $5 for adults, and children receive complimentary admission.

St. Simons Island Antique Show (St. Simons Island)

Postell Park, courtesy of The Golden Isles Facebook.

Postell Park, courtesy of The Golden Isles Facebook.

Postell Park is home to the annual St. Simons Island Antique Show, featuring antique dealers from across the Southeastern United States. The 2016 festival will be held May 28-29. Admission is free.

Alpharetta Arts StreetFest (Alpharetta)

Alpharetta Arts StreetFest

Alpharetta Arts StreetFest

Visit the newly renovated downtown Alpharetta during the annual Alpharetta Arts StreetFest, which features three days of revelry, including a showcase featuring nearly 100 artists, musicians and performers from throughout the U.S. The 2016 festival is set for May 28-30. Admission is free.

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.

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.

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.

From Fruit to Nuts, When to Pick Your Favorites in Georgia

Strawberry picking in North Georgia.

Strawberry picking in North Georgia.

Each season Georgia has a new crop ready to be harvested. When is the season for your favorite fruit?

Strawberries – Each April through July, strawberries ripen in fields across Georgia. Prime season is in May and June. Each spring, North Georgia’s Jaemor Farms celebrates the harvest with a family-friendly festival.

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Peaches – From early May to August, you’ll find ripe peaches on trees throughout the state. During the late summer, the City of Kennesaw hosts the annual Pigs & Peaches Festival celebrating the beloved fruit and some of the state’s best barbecue. Add to your peach-loving fun with a visit to Georgia’s Peach Blossom Trail.

Byne Blueberry Farms in Waynesboro grows organic berries.

Byne Blueberry Farms in Waynesboro grows organic berries.

Blueberries – From mid-April through the end of July, Georgia’s blueberry harvest is at its peak. If you prefer organic blueberries, visit Byne Blueberry Farms in Waynesboro, the oldest organic blueberry farm in the state and the third oldest in the nation.

Apples – You’ll find apples ripe in orchards from late July to October. Throughout that time, the state hosts numerous apple-themed festivals, including the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, which spans two weekends.

PecansPecans are in their prime in October through December in Georgia. According to the Georgia Pecan Commission, the state’s trees produce over 100 million pounds of the nuts each year. Stop into Ellis Brothers Pecans in Vienna (home to the Big Pig Jig annual barbecue cooking contest in November) and fill up on roasted, glazed, spiced, chocolate-covered, candied and any other variation of the nut you can imagine.

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.

Georgia’s Top Trout Destinations

Fish for trout in the Toccoa River at Horseshoe Bend Park in McCaysville, Georgia.

Fish for trout in the Toccoa River at Horseshoe Bend Park in McCaysville, Georgia.

It’s no secret that trout is becoming big business in Georgia. From residents and visitors wanting to fish the state’s streams and rivers to the featured protein on restaurant menus, the prized fish is impacting local economies in a big way. Here are the top places to find trout in Georgia.

Toccoa River – The Toccoa River, in Fannin County, has just the right conditions to warrant the growth of big fish. According to the Blue Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the river is stocked above Blue Ridge Dam “about every other week” during prime fishing times. Book a lesson with any of the fishing guides in Blue Ridge to learn some tricks for reeling in the big ones. (Before casting a line, review the Georgia Department of Natural Resources trout fishing regulations.)

Your Delta flight – Acclaimed chef Linton Hopkins, of Restaurant Eugene, cheeseburger hot spot Holeman and Finch, H&F Bread Co. and the forthcoming Linton’s at Atlanta Botanical Garden, has worked with the Atlanta-based airline to create menus with local flare for passengers flying from Atlanta to Europe. Along with regional cheeses, Carolina Gold rice and grits, local charcuterie and pork, travelers will find mountain trout being offered up.

Chattahoochee National Forest – Spanning a large part of the state’s northern region, the Chattahoochee National Forest is home to the Chattooga River, which features prime whitewater rafting opportunities and Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, a species that is not stocked by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Blue Ridge Trout Fest and Outdoor Adventures – Each year, the town of Blue Ridge plays host to a weekend of festivities celebrating its claim as the Trout Capital of Georgia. This year’s festival runs April 29-30, 2016.

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.