Photo Courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

What We’re Thankful For in 2017…

2017 has been a year we’ll never forget in Blairsville-Union County, and we have so much to be thankful for! This year, we’ve had record numbers of visitors to our area (thanks, in part, to the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse in August), a continued increase in ribbon cuttings, and healthy growth overall in our area. None of this would have been possible without the support of the incredible community that is Blairsville-Union County!

As we approach Thanksgiving this week, we’d like to encourage everyone to take time to enjoy your family and friends and, in the spirit of the holiday, truly reflect on everything you have to be thankful for. No matter what your station in life may be, we are all truly blessed in so many ways. With that said, we at the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce would like to take a moment to publicly thank our leadership board, our staff, our members, our city and county officials, and our community for another amazing year. Each and every one of you make us proud to call this place home, and we are truly grateful for a community in which we truly look out for one another.

On behalf of all of us at the Chamber, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Holiday Preview 2017

There’s just nothing like celebrating the holidays in the mountains, and there’s no better place to celebrate the season than Blairsville-Union County! We go all out for the holiday season, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy – from festive events like the Tour of Trees and Caroling on The Square to holly jolly shopping sprees like the Mistletoe Market and the Holiday Stop and Shop. Here are just a few of the holiday happenings coming up:

Mistletoe Market
November 18, 2017 9 am – 4 pm
November 19, 2017 11 am – 4 pm

Blairsville Holiday Stop & Shop                                                                                                                 December 1, 2017 11 am – 7pm                                                                                                                    December 2, 2017 11am – 7pm

Tour of Trees
Daily, December 1 – 31, 2017 9 am – 5 pm

Kris Kringle Mountain Market                                                                                                                  December 2, 2017 10 am – 3pm

Holiday on The Square and Christmas Parade
December 2, 2017

Holly Jolly Christmas
December 9, 2017 3 pm – 6 pm

Tree Lighting at Vogel State Park                                                                                                              December 9, 2017 4 pm – 7pm

There’s so much happening in our area this year that there’s a whole page of our website dedicated to all things Holiday-themed! Learn more about the winter wonderland that is Blairsville-Union County and plan your holiday journey with us at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com!

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Blairsville-Union County Wine Country

One of the things that makes us one of the best-kept secrets in the Southeast is our fabulous wineries. As an American Viticultural Area (AVA), our area has the same designation and soil quality as prestigious wine communities like Sonoma and Napa Valley. But it’s not just the soil that make Blairsville-Union County’s Wine Country so special, it’s also the hard work and attention to detail of the wineries in providing their guests with unique experiences as well as exceptional wine. Come and see for yourself…

Learn more about the wineries and distilleries in Blairsville-Union County here.

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Holiday Pilgrimage

Southern Tree Plantation Inc., a family run business located 5 miles south of Blairsville, is a 60 acre Christmas tree farm located in Union County. Southern Tree Plantation has been growing Christmas trees for over 30 years. During that time many attractions and additional activities have been added to the plantation. Wagon rides, farm animals, a children’s train ride, marshmallow roasting, maze, playground, crafts, and concessions are some of the attractions and activities available for the public to enjoy while cutting or choosing their Christmas trees.

Many families make their annual holiday pilgrimage to choose and cut their own trees at the farm. In addition to finding a Christmas tree, customers enjoy browsing through the “holiday barn,” listening to their favorite music enjoying the sights and sounds of the season while sipping some hot chocolate. The “holiday barn” was created out of an 80 year old chicken house. Families can be found roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, taking the wagon and train rides, playing in the playground and maze or enjoying a variety of other activities available. Even Santa Claus has been known to drop by the “holiday barn.”  

From its early roots as a business, the Christmas season is still the highlight and most popular time of year at the farm.  Families travel from many miles away to make or continue their holiday traditions at Southern Tree Plantation. Over the years, the Plantation has expanded its services beyond trees and holiday attraction. There are also facilities available for large events to be held on the farm – perfect for company picnics, birthday parties, reunions, weddings, and other events.

Let us help you plan your holiday pilgrimage and other activities while you are in town by contacting the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789 or stop by our Welcome Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road located within the Union County Community Center.

 

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Happy Hallo-weekend!

In less than a week, it’ll be Halloween! Here in Blairsville, there’ll be costumes, candy, tricks and treats for the whole family. We’ll be celebrating the season all weekend long with festivals and other fun events all over the area. Here’s just a glimpse of what’s going on this Halloween, and the weekend before, in Blairsville-Union County:

Haunted Hayride
Enjoy Joshua Dream Ranch’s Spook-Tacular Haunted Hayrides. Have a spooky fun time and help yourself to some gooey s’mores.
October 27, 28, & 31, 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Fall Festival at Vogel State Park
Celebrate Autumn at Vogel with Hayrides, a Cake Walk, Duck Race, Storytelling and more!
October 28, 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Downtown Blairsville Outdoor Movie Night                                                                                                Bring the family downtown for a free movie night featuring Disney’s Hocus Pocus. A costume contest will be held before the show.                                                                                                           October 31, 6:00 PM – 8 PM

Halloween on The Square
Games, costume contests, and lots of trick or treating.
October 31, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

There are lots of other fun events happening at some of the local wineries, restaurants, and other businesses this weekend. Since, this is just a small taste of all of the spooky happenings coming up, visit us online for a full listing of Fall Activities and Events happening this Halloween and Hallo-weekend!

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The Business of Making Memories

We were nine adults, sitting around the backyard fire pit, drinking real hot cocoa topped with fluffy marshmallows. As the late autumn breeze became chillier, the hostess left us to rustle up blankets for each of her guests. We threw them around ourselves and instinctively wrapped up in them like they were our cocoons.

Someone sighed and said “Oh, this reminds me of summer camp in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie over 50 years ago.” For the next two hours we exchanged memories of our childhood camp experiences. Though we had raised a dozen children between us, not one of us mentioned the recollections we had of their experiences. Our own camp memoirs were so rich and tangible, even a half century later, we couldn’t stop sharing. Eventually the fire burned to just ambers and we regretfully ended our journey down memory lane.

When deciding to open a business here in Union County, you will ask yourself a myriad of questions. Can I make a living out of what I’m most passionate about? Is this something I think I can be absorbed about for the next several years?  Why would people choose to do business with me instead of who they’ve been doing business with in the past? Where can I open my business that is affordable and will draw the most traffic?

All of these are important considerations, yet one of the most important questions seldom gets asked. Will my business make memories for my customers? Because if their experience with you is memorable, they will continue to do business with you and they’ll share that experience with everyone. If your yarn shop is completely off the beaten path, but the alpaca, whose fleece are used to make your yarn, are available to your customers to pet and feed, they will drive miles for that experience. They’ll take pictures, post it on social media, most likely with a link to your FB page, and now they are using these memorable experiences as free marketing for your business.

I know, you are thinking, “I want to open a window washing business. How do I create a memorable experience for my customers?” All recollections don’t have to be pleasant. Taking before and after pictures of some of the worst windows, then sharing them in a “thank you for your business” card will be all they need. After the windows are clean, they might not remember what they looked like before. You can remind them how awful they were and now they can experience sunlight streaming freely through them, once again. They’ll also remember your effort to let them know how much you appreciate their business and will now have two extra business cards you taped on the back of the photos to use when referring you to their neighbors. If you are washing windows on the second or third floor, ask them to use your cell phone take a picture of you up on the ladder. Post this pic to their social media page and yours, thanking them for helping your business “reach new heights.”

The Blairsville-Union Chamber of Commerce offers great think tank sessions throughout the year, where local entrepreneurs, just like you, gather to discuss their ideas. Make us part of your journey to opening your business. Oh, and if your takeaway from this article has you dreaming about opening a camp just for adults here in the mountains, we bet you’d have great success.

Back to Dream

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Fall Leaf Peeping 2017

One of the most commonly asked questions at the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce is “when is the best time to see the leaves?” The answer to that question is difficult. The most common response is “the third and fourth week in October” However, there is a very scientific reason that determines the amount of color we are privileged to see in the autumn season. Let’s take a closer look at this.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, “The amount and brilliance of the colors that develop in any particular autumn season are related to weather conditions that occur before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is dwindling. Temperature and moisture are the main influences.” While variations in these two factors ensure that no two autumns are alike, the consensus is that “A warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and warm sunny fall days with cool nights should produce the most brilliant autumn colors.”

We believe that the autumn of 2017 is going to be a brilliant one! Make your plans to come visit the North Georgia Mountains from October through November. Some of the best leaf peeping spots in Blairsville-Union County are:

  1. Brasstown Bald – Highest natural point in Georgia. You can see beautiful colors for miles!
  2. Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway – Stunning, meandering road with breathtaking views.
  3. Lake Winfield Scott – The secret of Suches. Take a ride on Hwy 180 for delightful colors.
  4. Vogel State Park – Every angle provides exquisite vegetation for the leaf connoisseur.
  5. Blood Mountain – From the top of the Appalachian Trail, both the views and colors are sublime.

There are no shortages of activities in and around Blairsville-Union County this time of year. From festivals to fundraisers, music to motorcycles, and concerts to culture heritage, there is truly something for everybody! A full list of all the events and event details happening in and around town are available online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com. Here’s a small sampling of upcoming events:

  1. Blairsville Sorghum Festival – Oct. 14th, 15th, 21st, & 22nd from 9am-5pm at Meeks Park.
  2. Fall Hoedown – Oct. 21st from 12pm-7pm at Vogel State Park.
  3. Joshua Dream Ranch Corn Maze – Weekends in October on Hwy 76 just past the VA Clinic.

To keep an eye on the leaf changing over the next few weeks, check out http://gastateparks.org/LeafWatch or https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/. Both of these websites, and many others, will keep you up-to-date on the expected peak of fall for the North Georgia Mountains.

For detailed local area information including maps, directions, lodging, and upcoming event information please stop by The Welcome Center located in the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road, call 706-745-5789, email tourism@blairsvillechamber.com or visit us online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com.

 

 

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Fall Activities 2017

While Blairsville-Union County truly has something exciting going on all year long, Autumn is a particularly lively season for us. In addition to leaf peeping, hiking, and other outdoor activities, there are also a number of festivals and special events that only happen this time of year. We’ve got so much going on that we had to devote an entire page of our website to it – check it out!

From families to couples to friend groups and solo trips, you’ll find something for everyone! If fall and pumpkin everything is your jam, there’s no better place to celebrate the season than right here in Blairsville. What are you waiting for, get up here!

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Eclipse Recap

Remember the eclipse? It’s hard to believe that Blairsville-Union County got national news coverage and had thousands of people flock to our area for a once-in-a-lifetime lunar event, but here we are! For many of us, August 21 probably felt a little chaotic with all of the visitors and events going on. Now that the moon dust has settled and no one can find the eclipse glasses that they scrambled to buy at the last minute, we can take a step back and see just how big this experience was for our community. Here’s a quick look at the Blairsville Eclipse Experience by the numbers:

  • Over 15,000 visitors
  • 18,655 Glasses Sold
  • 2,820 Shirts Sold
  • 4 events Hosted by the Chamber: Astronomy Night, Totality Tailgate, Moon Over Meeks & Viewing at the IP
  • Nearly $4,000 raised for Civic Clubs and the Recreation Department
  • Estimated economic Impact: $200,000+

Who knew that a couple of minutes in total darkness would have such a bright impact on our community?

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We Are Still Here Statue Unveiling

This Thursday, September 21, Blairsville will host four heads of sovereign nations while commemorating their peoples as the original inhabitants of Union County and North Georgia.  The focal point of the project is the unveiling of a bronze statue by nationally renowned Pawnee/Cherokee artist, Daniel Horsechief of Sallissaw, Oklahoma. The statue, a ten foot bronze of a stick ball player, will serve as a permanent memorial to the Native Peoples that once called north Georgia home and their descendants.

The We Are Still Here Committee, a community project that began under the auspices of Leadership Union, is working closely with the tribal officials of the United Keetoowah Band, the Cherokee Nation and the Muskogee-Creek Nations all of Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina. This unveiling is particularly historic as it marks the return of the descendants of the Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee Indians to the north Georgia Mountains since the signing of the Treaty of the Cherokee Agency at Calhoun, Georgia 200 years ago.

This event has attracted attention far and wide, as a full-length documentary about the project (and the fact that the Nations would return for the first time in 200 years) has been made, an all native nations singing group has pledged that they would be here for the unveiling, and stickball teams from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians would be coming for the event as well. You don’t want to miss this historic unveiling, scheduled for 10 a.m. at Meeks Park on Thursday, September 21.