Atlanta Meatball Festival Preview (With Recipe)

One of Atlanta’s premiere restaurateurs and a recent contestant on “Top Chef,” Ron Eyester knows a thing or two about pleasing the palate. His Morningside restaurant Rosebud is competing at this year’s Atlanta Meatball Festival, Aug. 30 in Sandy Springs, with a classic meatball that will remind you of the kind grandma used to make.

Feeling pretty confident about his restaurant’s chances of winning, Eyester has revealed the recipe he’ll use to craft meatballs for the competition, scaled down for home cooks.

Chef Ron Eyester’s Meatballs

Ron Eyester's meatball. Photo credit: Henri Hollis/Atlanta Meatball Festival

Ron Eyester’s meatball | Photo courtesy of Henri Hollis, Atlanta Meatball Festival

2 yellow onions, grated
2 fennel bulbs, grated
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cups grated Romano cheese
4 cups panko bread crumbs (Run through Robot Coupe)
8 egg yolks
3 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
2 lbs. Riverview Farms ground beef
2 lbs. Riverview Farms ground pork

1. Quickly sauté onion, fennel and garlic and deglaze with 1 cup white wine.

2. In a large bowl, combine cooked onion, fennel, parsley, cheese, bread crumb, egg yolks, tomatoes, red pepper flake, salt, pepper, ground beef and ground pork.

3. Spread meat mixture onto sheet pan, cover with bun bag and allow mixture to chill for several hours or overnight if possible.

4. Using a black handle 2.5-oz. scoop, portion meatballs and again move to sheet pan and allow meatballs to chill in cooler.

5. Fry meatballs in fryer at 300 degrees for approximately 90 seconds, just until outside of meatball has browned.

6. Finish meatballs by braising in tomato sauce in rondo for about 2.5 hours over moderate heat.

pot of meatballs in tomato sauce

Atlanta Meatball Festival | Photo courtesy of Samantha Shal Photography

The Atlanta Meatball Festival, produced by the same team behind Taste of Atlanta, brings out the city’s top chefs for a quirky competition. This year’s festival will feature more than 20 restaurants competing, more space to enjoy your tastes than last year and a large drinks selection. Buy your tickets in advance and arrive early for the best chance to try all the offerings.

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.


Find Your Park at Georgia’s National Parks


Find Your Park at Florence Marina SP

Florence Marina State Park | Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources

This year, the National Park Service celebrates its 99th birthday. Since its start in 1916, the Service has grown to include 403 parks across the 50 states. Georgia is home to 14 of those properties and many of them are celebrating the anniversary with Find Your Park events including:

Butterfly Bio Blitz (August 22) – From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., guests are invited to Ocmulgee National Monument help count as many butterflies as possible with their camera/smartphone. Participants will receive a free t-shirt, backpack, water bottle and much more. In addition to the hunt, children can paint a butterfly jewelry box or sun catcher to take home with them.

While you’re in town, be sure to visit The Allman Brothers Band Museum, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Hay House.

“Find Your Park” Centennial Bike Ride (August 28-30) – Grab your bike and get ready to ride… or not. It’s totally up to you and there are options for everyone during this family-friendly Find Your Park experience. Registration, route maps and the itinerary for the ride are available online at Activities are also offered for non-cycling family and friends of participating cyclists who would like to visit the parks, camp overnight at Florence Marina State Park or Lake Blackshear Resort and ride the SAM Shortline train.

If you’re heading to the event through Columbus, look into their whitewater rafting experiences. If you’re driving through Albany, take your family to see visit the Flint RiverQuarium

Fort Pulaski Candlelantern Tours (December 18 & 29) – At six times each evening, Fort Pulaski National Monument will commemorate the 154th anniversary of the Confederate Nog Party of 1861 with the family-friendly candlelantern tours. The event includes hot cider, cookies, music, caroling and historic weapons firings.

Want to experience more Savannah history? Take a Savannah Haunted History Tour, visit the Savannah History Museum and stay in a historic hotel like the River Street Inn.

Stay tuned to and for additional Find Your Park activities throughout the autumn and winter.

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 Things To Do in Young Harris

Brasstown on Horseback in Young Harris

Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa

Where? Way up in the North Georgia mountains, almost to North Carolina, is the boyhood home of Senator Zell Miller. It’s a town full of fun. Don’t believe me? Here are five reasons you should visit Young Harris:

Rollins Planetarium – A part of Young Harris College, Rollins Planetarium is a state of the art attraction. Renovated in 2011, the Planetarium uses their Sky-Skan Definiti full-dome digital projection system to create an immersive experience under their 40 foot dome. On most Fridays, the Planetarium offers inexpensive public shows.

Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa – Just two hours from Atlanta and Chattanooga, Brasstown Valley Resort feels like a world away where life is a little slower thanks to its acres of outdoor fun. On top of that, they have a 7,500 square foot spa just waiting for you. Golf and sporting package are also available.

Destiny Alpaca Farm –  This alpaca farm does it all- including incorporating their herd into the local church’s annual Easter and Christmas pageants. Stop by the farm to see the huacaya alpacas grazing then pop into the shop to see, feel and buy their alpaca products.

Destiny Alpaca Farm in Young Harris

Destiny Alpaca Farm

Tomato Festival at Crane Creek – On August 15, 2015, Crane Creek Vineyards celebrates all things tomato during their annual Tomato Festival. Promising, “a day of wine, food and live   music provided by Cornbread Ted and The Butterbeans,” there’s sure to be something for everyone! Can’t make it to their Tomato Festival? Crane Creek’s annual Harvest Festival is coming up October 24, 2015.

Wine Tasting – Speaking of Cane Creek Vineyards, be sure to take the time to sample from local wineries in Young Harris and along your way to and from Young Harris.

Young Harris

Young Harris, Georgia

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 Autumn Weekends of Georgia Rodeos

Want to have a bucking good time? Head to one of these rodeos happening throughout the state this autumn:

Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo

Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo is held annually in April

August 1 & 2, 2015

  • DWPA Back to School Shootout at Chicopee Woods Agri Center (Gainesville)
  • Bill Picket Rodeo at Georgia International Horse Park (Conyers)

August 7 & 8, 2015

  • St. Jude Children’s Hospital Rodeo at Doug Yates Farm (Ringgold)

August 21 & 22, 2015

August 22, 2015

September 4-6, 2015

September 5 & 6, 2015

September 11 & 12, 2015

  • Chattahoochee Mountain Fair and Rodeo (Clarkesville)
  • Dalton Pro Rodeo at the North Georgia Fairgrounds (Dalton)
  • Franklin County Rodeo at the Royston Rodeo Arena (Royston)

September 18 & 19, 2015

  • Harris County Cattlemen’s PRCA Rodeo at Mike Tracy Arena (Hamilton)

September 25 & 26, 2015

October 3 & 4, 2015

October 9 & 10, 2015

October 23 & 24, 2015

Need a new cowboy hat or pair of boots to make your outfit complete? Georgia is home to numerous locally owned retailers with goods to fit your checklist:

If you’re a rodeo fan, ever watched Westerns growing up, or ever dreamt of being a cowboy when you were younger, you won’t want to miss visiting the Booth Western Art Museum the next time you’re near Cartersville. The 80,000 square foot museum features contemporary works by Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Any Warhol, and Georgia-raised Steve Penley among others alongside movie memorabilia and a collection of presidential artifacts.

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.

Summer in Rabun County


Rabun County sits high in North Georgia, situated comfortably just south of the North Carolina and South Carolina state lines surrounded by the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. When you’re looking to beat the late summer heat, Rabun County has great places to stay and play.

Stay and dine at The Dillard House. Generations of Rabun County visitors have stayed at The Dillard House and tasted their signature Southern dishes as part of a menu that changes daily. Accommodations include standard and luxury rooms, cottages and cabins while spa treatments and horse riding are also offered.Dillard House

Visit a state park. The county’s state parks offer a peek into the state’s diverse topography and are both family-friendly, easily accessible, and offer a wide variety of activities to visitors.

Black Rock Mountain State Park is Georgia’s highest state park and features streams, waterfalls, a richly forested landscape and expansive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Tallulah Gorge State Park highlight’s Georgia’s ecological diversity with must-see waterfalls and lush hillsides. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes for the hiking portion of your visit. Even if you don’t hike, a stop at the family-friendly visitors center offers an education on the area’s history and a chance to see live native animals.Tallulah Gorge Bridge

See a drive-in movie. Step back in time by taking in a movie at the Tiger Drive-In. The outdoor theater originally opened in 1954 and today’s incarnation of the attraction features a digital projector and a snack bar.

See the goats on the roof. No visit to Rabun County is complete without a stop to Goats on the Roof. The quirky attraction features live goats living and playing on the roofs of several buildings that house shops and snacking opportunities. Kids will love the opportunity to  feed the goats using the various unique mechanical devices around the site.Goats on the Roof - Tiger GA

Attend the Dillard Bluegrass Festival & Georgia State Championship Barbeque Cookoff. The annual festival showcases the best barbecue not just in Rabun County but across the neighboring areas. Be sure to bring cash and your appetite.

Visit a local vineyard. Tiger Mountain VineyardsStonewall Creek Vineyards and 12 Spies Vineyards are all nearby offering tasting opportunities.

Go whitewater rafting. There are numerous whitewater rafting opportunies throughout Rabun County and the heat of the summer is the perfect time to explore the region’s rapids.

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.