Monthly Archives: June 2016

Fun Family Activities in Blairsville

When you hear the phrase “family fun”, what comes to mind may be the stress, long days, and lots of money. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Blairsville has activities for all ages that are free and don’t require detailed scheduling. We’ve compiled five free activities so you can spend less time thinking about time and money, and more time enjoying the beautiful North Georgia mountains with your family!

Outside adventure: Picnic and a hike
When planning a trip to North Georgia, take some time to enjoy all the picturesque nature sites. There are so many free activities waiting for you just outside your door. Helton Creek Falls is south of Blairsville off of Hwy 19/129. This hike is only 0.6 miles long, perfect for kids of any age. Be sure to pack a lunch because the falls offer a great site for a picnic. See more options at our spring hikes guide [insert link to spring hikes guide blog when available].

Learn something new: Alpaca Farms
Spend an afternoon getting to know an animal not common to North Georgia, Alpacas. At the Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm or Jerae’s Unity Alpacas you can do just that. Be sure to stop by the gift stores for a selection of handcrafted jewelry and products made from Alpaca fiber. Entrance is free to both farms, but donations are welcomed. For both locations, please call or email ahead to make an appointment.

Treasure hunt: Geocaching
Geocaching has become an international pastime for family fun. Using a GPS device, enter in coordinates and follow the clues to a hidden cache. This is a fun way to get to know a new area, or appreciate all that your own neighborhood has to offer. There are plenty of Geocaches to discover in Blairsville, including one that takes you in and around the Union County Public Library.

Relax on the water: Lake trip
Lake Nottely offers a breathtaking alpine experience for residents and visitors just northwest of Blairsville. Or stay on shore and have a picnic at one of the parks surrounding the lake. Another option is Lake Winfield Scott which offers hiking, swimming, boating, and camping year round.

Fun times at the festival
In a tight community like Blairsville, there are festivals all year round where you can enjoy local crafters, fair food, and activities for the whole family (though not everything at these festivals is free). Check out our Festivals page for more information on upcoming festivals.


Blairsville-Union County Lakes

Escape the heat this summer by exploring these lakes and parks in Blairsville. While it is very beautiful, the south in the summertime can be hot, hot, hot. What better way is there to cool off than by boating, swimming, fishing, or enjoying a picnic by the water? So, pack up a picnic and the family, and head out to one of these great lake destinations!

Lake Nottely
Located just north of Blairsville is the shimmering blue waters of Lake Nottely. Surrounding the water are the mountains and valleys of the Chattahoochee National Forest, making it one of the more scenic areas of Blairsville. The water is teeming with wildlife, including the largemouth and striped bass, catfish, and crappie. There are plenty of picnic areas along the lake’s shore, perfect for a family fun outing on the weekend. Utilize one of the many boat ramps available to launch your boat. Looking for an extended summer lake vacation? There are camping areas and an RV park available. Three marinas are available: Nottely MarinaNottely Boat Club & Marina, and North Georgia WaterSports.

Lake Winfield Scott
Ten miles south of Blairsville is Lake Winfield Scott. The lake was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Situated in a beautiful mountain valley, the scenery cannot be beat! This 18-acre lake offers a variety of year round activities that the whole family can enjoy. There are areas to camp, picnic, and of course boat or swim. Surrounding the lake are hiking trails that take you through the recreation area.

Vogel State Park
Vogel State Park is one of Georgia’s oldest state parks. The park is located at the Blood Mountain base in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Perfect for a day of family fun, Vogel State Park features Lake Trahlyta where you can fish or swim. Surrounding this lake are 17 miles of trails, including the Appalachian Trail. On the water you can enjoy lake activities perfect for summertime, like kayaking and paddleboarding.  

Four For the Future Article Features Blairsville-Union County

We are extremely proud that Blairsville-Union County was recently featured in Georgia Trend as part of their Four For the Future article. Here’s an excerpt:

Deep in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, amidst North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Blairsville and Union County easily attract visitors interested in hiking, horseback riding, 80 miles of Appalachian Trail, waterfalls, golf, fishing, whitewater rafting, even ice climbing.

There are also reasons to make it home. A comprehensive rebranding effort completed in August 2015, led Blairsville, Union County, the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce and the Union County Development Authority to focus on drawing entrepreneurs, small business owners and young families to the area.

“Most of the focus prior to the economic downturn had been in tourism,” says Patrick Malone, interim chamber president. “Now the focus is on more stability, reaching very specific types of businesses. The lean is toward bringing young entrepreneurs to visit and start their business here. This is a great place to be outdoors, grow a business and raise a family.”

Malone, raised in Ohio, chose the South as home and knows that the vast recreational assets that bring visitors to the area can also motivate folks to start businesses and move their families there. He hopes people’s reaction is “Let’s see it to believe it.”   

The rebranding study gathered input from more than 500 residents and produced a new logo and tagline: “Believe It.”

“The project with the University of Georgia was an exciting process,” says Tobie Chandler, director of tourism at the chamber. “We also enlisted help from the community to assess our assets and together saw a need for a change in dynamics and added dimensions.

“A perfect central location, Blairsville is two hours from everywhere – Atlanta, Chattanooga, Knoxville, North and South Carolina,” she says, “and it’s an area with city amenities in a mountainous setting.”

Native Lamar Paris, the sole commissioner for Union County since 2001, tips his cap to UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government Director Laura Meadows and her team for recognizing the area’s commitment to preserve heritage and grow simultaneously.

“We’re a little off the beaten path, but there are many reasons to live here,” says Paris, citing low tax rates, top-rated schools, an airport and quality healthcare, in addition to quality of life. And there is industry: Corrugated Replacements, Panel Built and Advanced Digital Cable all call Union County home.

Paris thinks it critical to create opportunity for those who were born and raised here to return and believes “there is just no reason not to live here.”

“We want to create a reputation as a rural community with high-quality living standards and appeal to varied target audiences,” says Mitch Griggs, Union County Development Authority director. “This is an unbelievable community with opportunity for the young entrepreneur with a growing family and for the mature business owner who may want to relocate for personal reasons.”

Among Union County’s immeasurable assets are its leaders, some with homegrown dedication and some who came to Georgia and loved it too much to leave. As for the future success of the efforts to draw young families and new business to this beautiful place, there is just no reason not to believe. – Bonnie Smith

Thanks to Georgia Trend and the University of Georgia’s Public Service and Outreach Division for including us!


Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games

For 13 years, the Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games has drawn tourists from all over to Meeks Park in Union County. Lynn Varian, the publicity director, spoke about the festival’s history and success. The event began in 2003 at the suggestion of Jim McAfee, a local realtor. McAfee was a Chamber of Commerce Board member and given the task of finding a way to bring tourism into Blairsville and Union County. Experienced with other Scottish Festivals, McAfee proposed that Blairsville hold a festival of its own. Since then, the festival has been a success and listed as a Southeastern Top Twenty Event for 10 years in a row. 

It is said that Early Scots were attracted to the area because of the similarities in the landscape to their homeland.  Rolling hills, soaring mountains, four temperate seasons, and wide open spaces brought them to North Georgia. The festival recreates the experience of Scottish immigrants with sheep herding collies and other animals. You can also test your strength at wielding traditional weaponry by heaving stones, hammers, and cabers in friendly amateur and record setting SSAAA Highland Games competitions. 

Last year 10,000 people attended the Georgia festival. During the three day event in the scenic North Georgia Mountains, visitors can watch live reenactments and listen to music featuring bagpipes and drums. Celtic singers, dancers, pipers, athletes, clans, and societies come out to provide guests with a memorable experience. Vendors with a scottish theme can participate in the festival and have the opportunity to gain exposure and sell products. There are plenty of activities for kids as well as workshops and demos for all ages.

“A large committee of local volunteers, along with assistance from the Chamber of Commerce and, of course, cooperation from the city and county make this one of the most amazing festivals in Georgia and the surrounding five state area,” said Varian. On average the festival costs $55,000 to run, and any profits made go to local charities.

The festival brings tourists to the North Georgia Mountains from the US, Canada and Europe.  “We fill the hotels, cabins, rentals and restaurants, in the 5 counties surrounding us and our local economy experiences quite a boom,” said Varian. “From gas to groceries, everything benefits.”

Union County Farmers Market

Nothing says summertime like fruits and vegetables fresh from the field! You can find fresh produce and so much more at the The Union County Farmers Market! The season starts on June 4, 2016, and the market will be open Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Tuesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

FarmersMarket-RaddishThe Union County Farmers Market got its start in 2007, when County Commissioner Lamar Paris organized a committee that would oversee the development of a market that would sell local produce and goods. The market would support the community’s farm to table efforts by providing community growers a place to sell their products.

Today, that dream is reality! All kinds of products are sold at the market by local farmers, artisans, beekeepers, bakers, potters, painters, and so much more. The market boasts that all of the goods on sale are “Homegrown and Handmade”, and that’s the truth! Everything is produced here in the Blairsville – Union County area.

All of the local produce available for purchase is guaranteed to be fresh, high quality, and full of flavor. The farmers market supports family farms, saves land from development, and offers patrons fresh, local food. Local restaurant The Sawmill Place supports the farm to table initiative by partnering with the Union County Farmers Market and using local produce in its menu items and recipes.

Come by and see for yourself, Saturdays and Tuesdays, at the Union County Farmers Market!