Festivals, Arts and Crafts
Many different kinds of festivals occur in counties, cities and towns throughout North Georgia during almost every month of the year. Because Gilmer County produces more apples than any other county in Georgia, the Georgia Apple Festival is celebrated in Ellijay during the second and third weekends in October. The Georgia Apple Festival includes hundreds of booths with arts and crafts manufactured in the Southeastern United States. One of the more popular annual events in Towns County is Fall Festival at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee. Fall Festival combines live country and gospel music performances with displays of authentic Appalachian arts and crafts.
North Georgia Mountain festivals
Deep in the heart of North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the City of Blairsville’s most famous event is Georgia’s official Sorghum Festival in October. The Sorghum Festival celebrates Georgia’s sorghum industry with sorghum biscuit eating contests, original arts and crafts, and a good old fashioned square dance. Blairsville’s Southeastern Bluegrass Festival in September features live bluegrass music performances on three different stages. Over Labor Day weekend the Mountain Marketplace Heritage Festival in Blairsville showcases authentic Appalachian mountain crafts and in June, Blairsville’s Scottish Festival & Highland Games celebrates Georgia’s Scottish traditions with bagpipe and drum bands, a Scottish village exhibit, and the famous Kilted Golf Tournament Classic. During April in Dahlonga, the Bear on the Square Festival features bluegrass music performances and demonstrations of local folk traditions, and the Wildflower Festival of the Arts in May showcases paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry and other arts and crafts created by North Georgia’s artists.
Annual festivals in North Georgia cities
The largest city in North Georgia is Rome. During the month of May, the Mayfest celebration officially commemorates Rome’s economic, cultural and geographic importance with riverboat rides, live music concerts, the famous Ducky Derby, a corrugated boat race and a food festival. In the City of Roswell, Roswell Roots is an annual celebration of African-American history and culture held during February and the Roswell Magnolia Storytelling Festival occurs in June.
Nearby Roswell in Alpharetta, the Taste of Alpharetta food festival attracts more than 70,000 food connoisseurs each May, and Alpharetta’s downtown streets are closed to traffic for two days during Arts Streetfest in April so that hundreds of artists from all over America can display their original artwork.
The City of Athens has A Taste of Athens food festival in February featuring food sampling from over 50 local restaurants. During three days at the end of June, AthFest in downtown Athens showcases fine arts and crafts from more than 50 artists who exhibit their works at the Artist Market. Sandy Springs has an annual Taste of Sandy Springs food festival in May and the Sandy Springs Festival in September.
In Lilburn, the annual Lilburn Daze festival held at the end of October features more than 200 booths with local arts and crafts, a health fair, and a children’s carnival area with pony rides, face painting, clowns and other costumed theme characters.
In Decatur, the Arts Festival held over Memorial Day Weekend is Decatur’s largest art event with more than 120 artists showcased in the Artists market and the Children’s Arts Festival in Scott Park. The Oakhurst Arts & Music Festival is held in Decatur’s Harmony Park in October.
Now in its fourth decade, the Arts Festival at Rose Lawn in Cartersville is a 2-day arts and crafts show including guest tours of Rose Lawn’s 18-room Victorian house museum, carriage house and 1-room schoolhouse. Two times each year, the Prater’s Mill Country Fair in Dalton features the work of more than 200 artists and craftspeople plus self-guided tours of the historic Prater’s Mill, cotton gin and country store.
The annual Yellow Daisy Festival held during September in Stone Mountain is considered to be one of the top juried arts and crafts events in the United States. Professional artists, potters, wood carvers, basket weavers and other craftspeople display their work to thousands of visitors at Stone Mountain each day during the festival and are judged by a jury of peers on the basis of artistic merit.
In December, many cities in North Georgia celebrate their heritage with tours of local antebellum mansions and historic homes. One example is the City of Marietta’s traditional Christmas Pilgrimage, in which local residents open their seasonally decorated homes to visitors. The opportunity to tour these beautiful homes during the Christmas season provides a personal glimpse into the lives of North Georgia’s residents and it demonstrates their traditional friendly Southern hospitality.