Monthly Archives: September 2016

Indian Summer Festival

Indian Summer Festival

During the first full weekend of October, the Indian Summer Festival takes place in Suches, North Georgia, just 30 minutes from Blairsville. The festival is held at Woody Gap School – Georgia’s smallest public school. Over the weekend, attendees can enjoy all the family fun that the festival has to offer. Events include a 10k and 5k run, car show, crafts, music and dance performances, and other family activities.

Some notable events include the Run Above the Clouds 10k and 5k run on Saturday. Racers will run a challenging, but scenic, trail through the North Georgia mountains. There’s also a 1-mile fun run over a mostly flat course. There is also a Country Square Dance with a live band on Saturday evening starting at 8pm. Tickets for the dance are $6 in advance or $8 at the door. Proceeds from the runs and dance will benefit the Woody Gap School and help provide educational resources. The elementary students also participate in the arts festival with performances.

The fun continues with the crowning of the King and Queen, clogging performances, an auction, and performances of North Georgia mountain music. Also, Mountain Rangers will give a thrilling demonstration of hand-to-hand combat, as well an an archery demonstration. In between performances, be sure to take time to browse the wonderful vendor booths set up on the grounds. There you can view and purchase handcrafted pottery, leather crafts, folk art, jewelry and more. Admission for the Indian Summer Festival is $4 for adults, $2 for students, and free for kids under six. Parking is free.

Don’t miss this weekend of family fun in Suches!

Location & Contact:
Woody Gap School
3736 GA Hwy 60
Suches, GA 30572
706-747-2401

Photo courtesy of Ilke Lander

Paradise Hills Resort & Spa Offers a Unique North Georgia Vacation

Paradise Hills Resort and Spa offers its guests a relaxing North Georgia vacation. Conveniently located in Blairsville, a two hour drive is all it takes to escape the crowds, noise, and stress of Atlanta. This North Georgia resort offers cabin rentals and a variety of activities. Ready for adventure? Enjoy the scenic hiking trails, waterfalls, and lakes in the surrounding Chattahoochee National Forest. Want to take it easy? Kick back and relax with massages at the resort spa and wine tasting at the farm winery, all located at the secluded mountain resort. We talked to Ilke Lander who hosts the resort along with her husband Robert, about what makes Paradise Hills special.

Paradise Hills was created in 1988 by a local man who brought in a portable saw mill, milled the lumber onsite and hand built the first 4 cabins. Since the beginning, there have been 3 owners – including the founder and current owners Robert and Ilke Lander. The Landers took over in 2002 and at the time, had only cabin rentals to offer. They offered the original cabins plus 4 more, totaling 8 cabins.

“My husband and I ran the entire place by ourselves, from check-in, to cleaning, to maintenance to business administration,” said Ilke Lander. “Today, we have 10 part time/full time employees but we still are very involved in the day to day operations. Bob is our winemaker and vineyard manager and I oversee all aspects of the combined businesses as the general manager.”

The resort is known for it’s world-class service, proven by the many awards won for their services. Paradise Hills is unique among other cabin rentals in North Georgia as a European style spa and farm winery with a wine tasting bar are all on one property. “As far as I know, we are the only resort in the state that offers this combination of services,” said Lander. “More importantly, we pride ourselves in the highest quality of customer service.”

When asked about what she has learned from her experience in opening and managing a business with her husband, Lander discusses how it’s important to approach every new circumstance with flexibility. “We have learned to be patient with business growth but continue to move forward and stay progressive,” said Lander. “We have learned to evolve as the world evolves, as our guest requests/needs evolve, and as our business model evolves.” Paradise Hills, added the Lodge and spa in 2006, and in 2012 the farm winery and vineyards were added.

The Lander family first came to Blairsville as tourists. We loved the quaintness of the small town, the beautiful landscaping of the mountains and the idea of a safe, family oriented community to begin a family in,” said Lander.

Blairsville has welcomed Paradise Hills, and has provided numerous opportunities for the Landers over the years. Bob and Ilke Lander participate in the community’s development as members in civic organizations. They were also board members for the local chamber of commerce.

“Blairsville offers a great deal of support for business owners starting out; there are many resources for business owners,” said Lander. “We have been fortunate to be supported by our local representatives as well, with the addition of our farm winery – a first in our county.”

sorghum2

Fall, Festivals, and Fun!

The Autumnal Equinox, signifying the first day of fall, is this month on September 22 to be exact. The summer has just flown by and now Blairsville-Union County is gearing up for fresh autumn days, falling leaves, and FESTIVALS!

Here’s a quick rundown of upcoming events: The Mountain Regional Arts & Crafts Guild will host their annual  on Saturday & Sunday, September 17th & 18th from 9am-5pm on Saturday and 1pm-4pm on Sunday at North Georgia Technical College, Blairsville Campus. The Indian Summer Festival brings The Valley Above the Clouds alive in Suches. Arts, crafts, music and more await you on the first weekend in October, Saturday & Sunday, October 1st & 2nd from 9am-5pm. Georgia’s most beloved state park, Vogel State Park, will host the Fall Hoedown on October 15th from 12pm-7pm.

The 47th annual Sorghum Festival will be held in Blairsville at Meeks Park for two continuous weekends: October 8-9 and October 15-16 from 9am-5pm. Experience one of the most unique traditions in North Georgia – cookin’ sorghum syrup. Live demonstrations on how sorghum syrup was made years ago is the highlight of the festival, but you can also see how an old still makes White Lightening (moonshine). This popular festival will also showcase local arts and crafts, delicious treats and other assorted food vendors, a kids’ area, live music, and of course sorghum syrup.  All weekend you can enter a Biskit’ Eating contest and sop up as many sorghum drenched biscuits as possible. You can also participate in Pole Climbin’, Rock Throwin’, Horseshoe Pitchin’, and Log Sawin’.

Your family can’t ask for a more economical, fun weekend event. Sorghum Festival admission is $4 per person and kids under 12 are FREE. Free parking and shuttles will be available both weekends. Saturday, October 8th the Sorghum Festival Parade will roll through town at 11am with this year’s theme as “Bring Out the Kids…”. You may also choose to finish up your Saturday evenings (Oct. 8th & 15th) with traditional square dancing, an Appalachian tradition, at 8pm in the old middle school gym. Don’t worry, we’ll give you directions! Finally, for all you car lovers the Good Neighbors Car Show will be held on Saturday, October 15th from 8am¬4pm at United Community Bank. Enjoy more than 200 collector and antique cars.

For more information on all these great events, future upcoming events, dining, shopping, and lodging call the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789, email tourism@blairsvillechamber.com, or go online to www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.

Photo courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

Ch ch ch changes…

The seasons change, the years change, the days change, and time changes. With the summer drawing to a close, we can look forward to the crisp autumn and its beautiful colors. And as Blairsville-Union County grows and changes there are many new and exciting things ahead. New restaurants are opening, new retail stores are coming and new tourism assets are being developed.

Listed below are many activities perfect for getting back outside with your friends and family this fall.

Lake Nottely Bike & Hike Trail
The Tennessee Valley Authority in conjunction with Union County have created a mountain biking and hiking trail along the banks of Lake Nottely. As the path develops, picnic spots will be created along with varied levels of difficulty on the 1- 1.5 mile bike/hike loops. The access point, if you are heading west, is just past Nottely Dam on the left.

Festival-ville
The new season brings a new crop of festivals and events to experience and enjoy. At this fall’s Mountain Heritage and Sorghum Festivals, you can find yourself fully immersed in arts, crafts, heritage, and music. These are only a few select highlights; there are many more great festivals and events to choose from. A complete listing is available under the Event Calendar on www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com or you can pick up a hard copy in the Welcome Center.

History Trail
The Union County History Trail is a newly developed trail that highlights seventeen of Union County’s oldest landmarks and businesses for you to explore. Whether you are interested in tracing your roots at the Historic Courthouse or sampling some of the deliciousness at Logan Turnpike Mill, the History Trail meanders through Union County with historic and educational locations along the way.

Outdoor wonders
We are fortunate to have the Appalachian Trail and a variety of hiking trails branching off from the AT right in our back yard. Before you know it, the lakes will be back to full pool offering all of your favorite watersports like boating, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming. Pack a picnic lunch and choose a new hike that you haven’t explored yet.

A full hiking trail guide and fishing guides are available for download on www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com or you can pick up a hard copy in the Welcome Center. Another great tool is to download the FREE North Georgia Waterfall app for IOS and Android. The app will let you search both waterfalls and points of interests in 9 North Georgia Mountain Communities including Blairsville-Union County.

North Georgia Farm Trail
This jewel of a trail allows visitors and residents to enjoy the agricultural aspects of not only Union County but also of our friends along the Georgia Mountain Parkway in Jasper, Ellijay, Blue Ridge, Hiawassee, and of course beautiful Blairsville. From farm to table restaurants, farmers markets, u-pick vineyards, alpaca farms and more, the North Georgia Farm Trail has stops for everyone to enjoy. You can pick up your copy of the North Georgia Farm Trail in any of the Welcome Centers along Highway 76 or flip through the digital guide at www.gafarmtrail.com.

Playtime
Blairsville-Union County has a new playground including swings at Meeks Park for the youngsters to enjoy along with a new splash pad for the toddlers to play in by the community swimming pool. Poteete Creek Campground has a new playground for the young campers or daytime swimmers to frolic on. Very soon Union County will have our very own shooting range for the rifle team and BB gun teams along with the general public to target practice in a safe and controlled environment.

One thing that never changes is the beauty of this humble town. As a mecca for outdoor lovers, a sanctuary for retirees, a strong business environment for established and up and coming businesses, and the most ideal place to raise a family; Blairsville-Union County has it all. Believe It.

For more ideas on activities and events or detailed local area information including dining, lodging, and shopping 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.