Independence Day on the Georgia Coast

When you head to Georgia’s Coast this Independence Day holiday, there’s much more to do than just see fireworks. The state’s coastal towns have their own annual Fourth of July celebrations in addition to other family-friendly festivals and events planned.

Independence Day on the Georgia Coast

Photo Credit: Nancy J. Friedman Public Relations, Inc.

Brunswick
Summer Classic Movies at the Ritz (July 2, 2015) – Get into the patriotic spirit by stopping by The Ritz Theatre to see a showing of the classic James Cagney movie Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Brunswick’s Old Fashioned 4th of July (July 4, 2015) – Mary Ross Waterfront Park is home to an evening filled with family-friendly fun. There will be free watermelon slices, live musical entertainment, games and a fireworks display set to patriotic music to wrap up the evening.

Darien
Red, White & Blues on the Bluff (July 3, 2015) – Hosted by the Darien-McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce, this festival invites residents and visitors to the shores of the river to listen to live bands and chow down on food from vendors while they wait for the fireworks display to start.

Canons Across the Marsh at Fort King George Historic Site (July 4, 2015) – Artillery drills, musket firing and activities to get you better acquainted with a soldier’s life are on the schedule for this Independence Day at the Site. Also, free watermelon and lemonade will be served.

Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island Independence Day Celebration (July 4, 2015) – Jekyll Island will be celebrating the holiday all day on July 4th with beaches open and historical grounds begging for exploration. In the evening, gather near the Jekyll Island Convention Center to see the fireworks display.

Sunday Funday on Jekyll Island (July 5, 2015) – Bring a picnic from a local restaurant or snack shop and spend the afternoon on the Village Green where there will be a magician and face painter ready to entertain the kids.

Midway
Independence Day Colonial Faire at For Morris Historic Site (July 4, 2015) – Offering period appropriate games of skill, colonial music, musket firings, cannon firings and the usual park recreation opportunities, you family’s day at the park also comes with free admission in honor of the holiday.

Richmond Hill
Independence Day Celebration at Fort McAllister State Park (July 4, 2015) – Bring your family to the park to celebrate Independence Day like it’s 1864. There will be games, food, living history demonstrations, canon firing and musket demonstrations throughout the day in addition to the park’s other recreational activities.

Savannah
River Street Fourth of July Celebration (July 4, 2015) – Starting at 4 p.m. town visitors and residents are invited to River Street to celebrate Independence Day, Savannah style. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at dark.

Starland District’s First Friday Art March (July 3, 2015) – Explore local art and culture by experiencing the monthly art walk. July’s March will include an indie market, kids art activities and free trolley service.

Sea Island
The resort community has family-friendly fun planned from July 1-5, 2015 including the Family Olympics, the Ice Cream Sundae Challenge, a fun run, barbecue, luau, parade, fireworks and much more! The entire schedule of events is available as a PDF here.

St. Marys
4th of July Celebration (July 4, 2015) – Family-friendly fun lasts all day long on Independence Day in the quaint Georgia town of St. Marys. From a parade to arts and crafts to food vendors to rides for kids to a street dance, there’s something for everyone. At night, there will be one of the largest fireworks displays in the Southeastern United States lighting up the sky.

St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island Sunshine Festival (July 3-5, 2015) – Pier Village is home to the festival that highlights the region’s best art including painting, pottery, jewelry, woodcraft, photography and garden art in addition to the annual 1 mile fun run, 5K race and July 4th fireworks display.

A Little Light Music Concert featuring Mason Waters and the Groove Allstars (July 5, 2015) – Locals and visitors are invited to gather on the grounds of the historic St. Simons Lighthouse for an evening concert before heading to face the workweek.

Tybee Island
Fourth of July Fireworks on the Pier (July 3, 2015) – You can spend your day on the beach, visiting friends, and taking advantage of local dining but be sure to leave enough time to head to the Pier on Tybee Island where they’ll shoot off fireworks around 9:00 p.m. on Independence Day.

Market at the Light House (July 5, 2015) – Shake off the Saturday revelry for a relaxing morning browsing the food, goods and more at the market.


Eileen
Eileen 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.

Attack of the Killer Tomato Recipes

For the last six years, the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival has gathered Atlanta’s top chefs and mixologists together to create new dishes for a day of tasting. Each year attendees taste tomato-based food and drinks and while judges pick their favorites as winners. Festival proceeds always go to good causes and there’s some good food along the way.

Killer Tomato Festival

Killer Tomato Festival
Photo Credit: Emily Schultz

In 2014, Bloody Mary Ice Pops by Pastry Chef Chrysta Poulos, the master of pastry for all of Ford Fry’s restaurants, was a crowd favorite. Ready to try these for your next outdoor picnic? I snagged the recipe:

Bloody Mary Ice Pops

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups water
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
7 1/2 cups Bloody Mary mix
6 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cups of your favorite vodka
ZipZicle Ice Pop Bags

Method

  1. Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Refrigerate until very cold.
  3. Grab a large enough container so that all the ingredients can fit at once.  Pour in your chilled simple syrup, then whisk in Bloody Mary, fresh lime juice, and vodka.  Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  4. Find a tall sided container to hold your pops upright.  Using a liquid measure cup with a pouring spout or whatever you have around the kitchen, fill the Zipzicle bags and place upright in your container — they only need to remain upright until frozen, then they can be placed on their sides for easier storage.

Eduardo Guzman, beverage manager at JCT. Kitchen & Bar, The Optimist, and Marcel concocted the cocktail named “All in One Basket,” the 2014 Festival Judge’s Choice cocktail winner. Here is how you can make yours:

All in One Basket

Ingredients

32 oz. Crop Vodka
16 oz. Cocchi Americano
1 quart sun gold tomatoes
1 quart Georgia peaches, sliced and pitted
1/4 cup calabrese peppers
3 dill springs
3 cups lemon juice
Celery salt

Method

  1. Dry out the peppers in the oven for 20 minutes, then soaked the peppers and pulverize them.
  2. Then, combine tomatoes, peaches, and peppers with 2 cups of water in a blender.
  3. Strain out the mixture, and combine with the dill sprigs, about 3 pinches of celery salt, and the lemon juice.
  4. Let it rest for one hour before serving.

2015’s Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival is July 19 at Westside Provisions District in Atlanta. The festival will feature over 40 of the South’s top chefs, more than 20 mixologists, and over 30 farmers competing for prizes while music from Ill Communication and Five Bone Rack, Ford’s all-chef band, keeps the crowd’s spirits up. Festival proceeds benefit Georgia Organics and The Giving Kitchen.

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 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Georgia Peaches

Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge

Things are just peachy here in Georgia even when the beloved Official State Fruit is out of season. Here are ten things you might not have known about the peaches that call Georgia home.

1.) The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks Georgia as one of the top four peach producing states along with California, South Carolina and New Jersey.

2.) The peach is a member of the rose family.

3.) Peaches originally came from China. They were traded along the Silk Road and made their way to Europe before eventually gracing American groves. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, “Franciscan monks introduced peaches to St. Simons and Cumberland islands along Georgia’s coast in 1571.”

4.) During Reconstruction, Georgia farmers were forced to diversify their crops. As the boll weevil moved in and destroyed many cotton crops, farmers added pecans, onions, apples, and peaches.

5.) Georgia’s peaches mainly grow in Crawford, Taylor, Macon and Peach counties.

Dickey Farms

Dickey Farms in Musella

6.) Georgia peaches are used in some of the nation’s top restaurants. The fruit from Pearson Farms in Fort Valley is on tables at Per Se (currently the world’s third most expensive restaurant) in New York City, Hugh Acheson’s restaurants throughout Georgia, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, and Bayou Bakery on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C.

7.) Berckmans Nursery was a hub for horticulture in the mid to late 1800s in Augusta. At the complex, the Berckman family worked to develop breeds of peaches that would thrive in Georgia’s climate, leading to Georgia’s prosperous crops for generations. Prosper Berckman soon became known as the “Father of Peach Culture.”

8.) When legendary golfer and Atlanta native Bobby Jones was working to create what is now Augusta National Golf Club, Prosper Berckman’s sons were helping to design the landscaping. The Club would eventually take over the Berckmans Nursery area and incorporate it into the Club with the Berckmans’ home, known as Fruitland Manor becoming the Augusta National Clubhouse. Many of the varieties of plants (including peaches) that were part of Berckmans Nursery still thrive on Club property.

9.) Most of the peaches sold in Georgia are sold fresh. Despite the large number of bushels picked each year, there are no major processing operations in the state according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

10.) The World’s Largest Peach Cobbler is made each year at the Georgia Peach Festival in Fort Valley. The enormously tasty creation is 11 by 5 feet and about eight inches deep. Tasting the cobbler is free.

 

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 Reasons to Rediscover North Georgia Wineries

CeNita Vineyards

Photo Credit: CeNita Vineyards

North of Atlanta, in Georgia’s Appalachian foothills and on your way to the Chattahoochee National Forest, you’ll find acres upon acres of vineyards. Here are five reasons why you need to make a trip to North Georgia wineries this summer:

1.)  Do it for the nostalgia. Wineries like Cavender Creek Vineyards in Dahloenga offer up wine with a side of mountain farm life. Cavender Creek’s unique location allows for hand-crafted wines to be sipped while you’re next to a cabin from the 1800s.

2.)  Experience local musical talent. Many vineyards offer live music in their tasting rooms and porches throughout the summer including Cartecay Vineyards in Ellijay, Chateau Meichtry Vineyards in Talking Rock.

3.)  Visit something new. The wine business in North Georgia is rapidly expanding. You can’t say “been there, done that” when new wineries are expanding and opening their tasting rooms. Stay tuned for news from CeNita Vineyards in Cleveland which already has a booming event space and soon will have their tasting room open and serving.

4.)  There’s more to the mountains than hiking. If you’re not much for the outdoors but your companion loves a good hike, a day hiking and sipping is a great compromise. Visit the peak of Brasstown Bald then head to local wineries in Hiawassee and Young Harris like Cane Creek Vineyards and Hightower Creek Vineyards for tasting with a view.

5.)  It’s not just wine- it’s festivals too! 12 Spies Vineyards & Farm, just north of the beloved Dillard House, features events and festivals on their grounds throughout the year including the Blessing of the Vines on June 6, 2015 and third anniversary celebration on July 25, 2015. This year’s Appalachian Wine & Jazz Festival is set for June 12 and 13 in Hiawassee. and Stonewall Creek Vineyards is set to celebrate the summer solstice on June 20, 2015 with an afternoon celebration. Later in the year, CrushFest comes to Yonah Mountain Vineyards and the Grape Stomp Festival comes to Paradise Hills.

 

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 Places to See Butterflies in Georgia

butterfly

Photo courtesy wallpaperswide.com

1.) Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens – No day at Callaway Gardens is complete without a visit to the multi-story, LEED-certified building, which features 1,000+ butterflies flying freely around visitors’ heads. Admission to the building is included with your admission to the gardens.

2.) Flying Colors Butterfly Festival – Taking place at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, this annual festival puts butterflies front and center, providing families educational experiences during a whole day of fun. This year’s festival is set for June 6 and 7.

Butterfly Festival 2014

Photo courtesy Dunwoody Nature Center

3.) Butterfly Festival at the Dunwoody Nature Center – Each autumn the Dunwoody Nature Center hosts a day of butterfly-centric, family-friendly fun. This year’s festival is set for August 15, and it is recommended that you purchase tickets ahead of time.

4.) Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center – While the central attraction to the Museum and Nature Center is the Savannah River’s rich boating industry, visitors have the opportunity to explore the grounds, including a butterfly garden that was restored in 2007.

5.) Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden – Located in the heart of Atlanta, the garden is managed by its surrounding community. With plenty of space to run and play within its 210 acres, the site is also close to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & 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.