Category Archives: Blue Ridge Mountains

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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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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.

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Fall Festivals Preview 2017

Hard to believe, but Autumn is just around the corner! With a historic summer for Blairsville-Union County coming to a close, we’re now gearing up for all of the fun that the Fall has in store for us. Here’s a quick rundown of the events and festivals taking place in our community:

Mountain Heritage Festival
Historic Mountain Life Museum
September 2nd & 3rd, 2017  9am-5pm
Celebrate the history and mountain culture of Union County with music on the porch, arts & crafts vendors, food vendors, as well as demonstrations of skills used by Union County’s earliest settlers.

Mountain Music and Arts and Crafts Festival
Vogel State Park
September 9, 2017  10am-5pm
Appalachian, bluegrass, and gospel music as well as arts and crafts, demonstrations on spinning, blacksmithing and bowl carving, not to mention food and concessions available from the Vogel Volunteers.

Celebrate Autumn Arts and Crafts Festival
Towns County Recreation Center
September 16, 2017  9am-5pm, September 17, 2017  1pm-4pm
A juried arts and crafts show featuring indoor and outdoor booths.

Indian Summer Festival
Woody Gap School
October 7 & 8, 2017 9am-5pm
This fabulous festival, benefiting the Woody Gap School in Suches, GA, takes place every year on the first weekend in October. Activities include a Craft Show, 10K Run, Country Square Dance, Weaponry Demonstration, Auction, Play performed by Elementary Students, and Much More!

Run Above the Clouds
Suches Community Center
October 7, 2017 9am
These 10K and 5K road races take place over a beautifully scenic, challenging out-and-back course through the North Georgia mountains and serve as the kick-off events for the Indian Summer Festival. There is also a 1-mile fun run, over a mostly flat course.

BEAR – Blairsville Extreme Adventure Race
Meeks Park
October 7, 2017 7am
Teams will be exploring the mountains, rivers, lakes, trails, and beautiful woods surrounding Blairsville.

Sorghum Festival
Meeks Park
October 14, 15 & 21, 22, 2017 9am-5pm
Blairsville’s longest running festival celebrates the ancient art of cooking sweet syrup from Sorghum Cane. Visitors enjoy sorghum syrup making demonstrations in addition to contests such as “Biskit” Eatin’, Pole Climbin’, Log Sawin’, Rock Throwin’, and Horseshoe Throwin’.

Fall Hoedown at Vogel State Park
Vogel State Park
October 21, 2017 12pm-7pm
Celebrate autumn’s arrival with a cakewalk, hayrides, and food during the day and a campfire, dancing, and storytelling at night.

Good Neighbors Car and Truck Show
United Community Bank Parking Lot
October 21, 2017 8am-4pm
More than 200 cars and trucks (old and new) “show off” at the Good Neighbors Auto Show.

Hometown Halloween on the Square
Downtown Blairsville
October 31, 2017 6pm-8pm
Bring the kids and join the fun! Each October, Downtown Blairsville hosts a spectacular trick-or-treat event complete with candy, costumes, and contests!

For a full listing of festivals and events, visit our Festivals and Events pages.

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Living for the Long Weekend

Everybody loves a good, long weekend! With Labor Day coming up, we thought we’d give you a roadmap for how to maximize your fun and relaxation right here in Blairsville-Union County! Just a couple of hours from major Southeastern hubs like Atlanta, Greenville, and Chattanooga, Blairsville is the perfect place to unplug and unwind for a few days. Let’s get started!

Ample Accommodations
There is a wide variety of options when it comes to staying in Blairsville, from traditional hotels and camping options to resorts and cabins. Whether you want a rugged outdoor weekend of “roughing it” or a luxury experience complete with wine tastings and spa days, we’ve got you covered!

Explore The Greater Outdoors
Get outside and do something fun! Blairsville has more outdoor activities to offer than we have time to talk about, including hiking, exploring Brasstown Bald (Georgia’s Highest Peak), horseback riding, making a splash in our amazing lakes, playing in some of the best parks in the South (including Vogel State Park), and so much more. There is truly something for everyone to explore, from families, to couples, group trips, and beyond! Learn more about all of the outdoor fun you can have in Blairsville-Union County here.

Eat Better in Blairsville
We aren’t your typical little mountain town with two restaurants that both close at 6pm. Dining options here include some of the best Barbecue and Southern cooking you can find, but our thriving food scene also includes Cuban cuisine, Seafood, Italian, American, Greek, farm to table, and much more! If you like to eat, you’ll never want to leave. Find a complete listing of restaurants in the area here.

Celebrate with Us
There’s always something going on in Blairsville-Union County, with fun festivals and special events happening all year long – like the Mountain Heritage Festival happening over Labor Day weekend. Check out our Festivals and Events pages for the latest scoop on what is happening and where.

What are you waiting for? Stop by visitblairsvillega.com/tourism to start planning your trip to Blairsville-Union County today!

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Back to School 2017

The first day of school is approaching fast in Blairsville-Union County, which presents new challenges and opportunities for both families and businesses. While many parents welcome the return to a “normal” schedule and a consistent routine for their children, others lament the loss of a more open schedule that allows for fun trips and activities. For businesses, depending on the type of business, it can mean the beginning or the end of a busy season and – with the return of extra-curricular activities like sports and band – increasingly hectic schedules for both employers and employees. 

With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember to be patient with not only our kids, but also our colleagues and co-workers. Let’s cherish the time that we have with our families and make the most of opportunities to interact with our kids in between school and practices and lessons and all of the other things that go on during this busy season. There are also opportunities for some businesses to get creative with their customer base, like a back to school parent “pick-me-up” discount at coffee shops or “school night meal deals” for restaurants. There are lots of ways for your family and business to hit the ground running this school year!

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Local Wineries & Distilleries

For those who enjoy the occasional drink, the kind that’s a bit stronger than good ole’ sweet tea, there are a number of fantastic wineries and distilleries in the Blairsville-Union County area. Establishments like these are uniquely suited to thrive here, as our area was recently named an American Viticultural Area (AVA) – a distinction carried by regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma. Most of the vineyards frequently host fun events and live music, so there’s plenty to do while you visit. From whiskey with deep roots in the area’s history to luxury vineyards & resorts with European flare, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. Here are a few of the vineyards and distilleries close by:

Granddaddy Mimms Moonshine Distillery
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Odom Springs Vineyards
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Paradise Hills
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Hightower Creek
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Crane Creek
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Learn more about the wineries & distilleries in Blairsville-Union County here.

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Scottish Festival and Highland Games 2017

It’s June, which means that it’s time for the biggest festival of the year – the Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games! We’ll be highlighting our area’s heritage with traditional games, Highland music and dancing, food with a Scottish flare, and much more! Visit workshops to learn how to play the bagpipes. Discover your “clan” and learn about the rich Scottish roots of the area. Watch animal demonstrations like border collies herding sheep and falcons swooping on their “prey”. Take your wee ones to get their faces painted or go on a train ride. There’s truly something for every member of the family.


The festival kicks off with a concert on Friday, June 9 and continues through Sunday, June 11, so clear your schedule and get over to Blairsville-Union County this weekend! Visit www.blairsvillescottishfestival.org or contact the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce for more details.

Photo courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Guest Blog: Jesica Clemmons of Sunrise Grocery

I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, but it always seemed as if my heart was born in the mountains. My mom and dad used to bring me to the mountains of North Georgia every chance they got; sometimes it was to hike & other times it was just to have a break from the chaos that always surrounded us. I found a comfort in that peace that we received when traveling for a weekend getaway. I loved it so much that when I turned sixteen and got my license, I would often come up to Blairsville for a hike and to see all the beautiful scenery rather than hang out in the city.

My love for these mountains and the town of Blairsville ended up building the path for me meeting my future husband. So, not only did I snag the perfect guy for me, but I also ended up living in what is for me, Heaven on earth. Not a bad deal, huh? These mountains and the town of Blairsville gave me the love of my life, an amazing job working at the oldest business in the county, and many great friends in my new hometown. Not to mention, I don’t have to drive up anymore for a weekend getaway. My weekends are now much more laid back and fun-filled.

Photo courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Photo courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Jason and I feel so lucky to live here. We live in a spot where most people come for vacation, and they come with good reason. We try to use every free moment we have to explore. Most evenings after we close Sunrise, we take a drive around our mountain town to take in the views. Rather than sit in traffic, we take in the fresh mountain air. We both always say it is better than sitting at home watching T.V.  We usually either drive up to Brasstown Bald and look for all the bears along the way or we drive up Richard Russell to watch the sky change into an array of colors from the setting sun.

Courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Of course, the weekends are our favorite and are never dull. On Saturdays we are at the historic Sunrise Grocery all day. Luckily, Sunrise isn’t just a job for us, we absolutely love being there. We sell Jason’s photography, my mother in law’s knitting, my homemade soap, and lots of local goodies like jams, jellies, honey and t-shirts. So, it’s all fun things and fun people. We get to catch up with a lot of locals who come in to see us, and we also get to meet many new people from all over who are here visiting.  We strike up the fire for our boiled peanuts pretty early and from there it is usually pretty nonstop dipping up peanuts and chatting with our customers all day. It’s never a bad day at the office.

On Sundays we are able to take some time off and usually take full advantage of all this beautiful place has to offer. Sometimes we set out pretty early, as in four o’clock in the morning. Jason is a photographer and I am a nature lover so we will occasionally go somewhere to catch the sunrise. One of our favorite places is Brasstown Bald, which is the highest spot in Georgia. We’ll get up, make a BIG pot of coffee to throw in a thermos, and head out the door to hike up to the tower. A time or two we have been above the clouds and it is unbelievable! What beauty! We watch the clouds below us turn a golden orange before the sun peaks over them. One thing is for sure, we have never regretted getting up early to see a sunrise. As a matter of fact, it is a pretty amazing way to start the day.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Photo Courtesy of Jason Clemmons

We’re not always so ambitious when it comes to getting up early, but we definitely are both eager to get out of the house to go find some fun. Whether it is going to grab coffee at Cabin Coffee, popping into Sunrise to say hello, or head up to Mountain Crossings to check out their outdoor gear or walk a little of the Appalachian Trail, we make our rounds and then find something to do outside. A lot of times we’ll head to Helton Creek waterfall, especially if we have just had a good rain or if it snows. Other times we may go to Vogel State Park for a picnic or to walk around the lake. Vogel is both mine and Jason’s favorite state park in Georgia. You just can’t beat the view there with the lake and mountains as its backdrop. I got to say, it is a great place for a date. We went on one of our first dates there and we have the photo Jason took of the waterfall that day hanging in our room.

In the evening, we sometimes head to town to go out to eat at one of the restaurants. We have a lot of great places to eat in Blairsville so we usually just take turns going to different places. Other times we’ll go hike up to Wildcat to watch the sun go down. It is by far the absolute best place to catch a sunset that I’ve ever been to. It’s a pretty small hike, maybe about a mile, and the view is more than worth every step. It’s a great place to take a picnic or bottle of wine, sit out on the rock and toast to a stunning sunset.

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Cinco de Mayo – Mountain Style

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican celebration to commemorate the Mexican Army‘s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. American’s mistakenly believe that it is Mexico’s Independence Day. We believe it is a great day to celebrate the Mexican-American culture and really, who doesn’t love a taco?

Blairsville-Union County offers you a variety of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo regardless of the true meaning of the date:

  1.  Armadillo Grill: Tex Mex done right is what you’ll get when you come out to the ‘dillo for Cinco de Mayo. Sukoshi & Terry will be jamming some tunes for you on the patio while you enjoy Cinco de Lim-O Tacos for lunch or Enchilada Casserole for dinner. It may or may not be a rule that you have to try a Fresh Strawberry Margarita and/or a Fresh Mint Mojito to complete your celebration. For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/armadillo.grill/
  2.  The View Grill: The name alone should make you want to come and dine at The View Grill featuring breathtaking views of Butternut Creek Golf Course. They have a fun day planned beginning with Mexican inspired lunch specials at 11am. From 5pm-8pm, enjoy a full Mexican buffet for only $10 including sweet tea. A full bar is available with margarita and pina colada specials, but you can’t leave without trying a Mountain Sangria featuring Grandaddy Mimms moonshine! You’ll even have a chance to win up to $500 in giveaways when you play their fun piñata games. For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/The-View-Grill-at-Butternut-Creek-1654395681507288/
  3.  Tri State Business Women’s Cinco de Mayo: If you are looking for enthusiasm, you won’t find a better group to celebrate with than the Tri-State Business Women. Their first Cinco de Mayo event last year sold out, so they moved to a bigger venue – North Georgia Technical College. Amazing Grace Catering & Events will be serving up a terrific Mexican feast and live music will be playing for your entertainment. All proceeds from the event go to support local charities and scholarships. For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/TriStateBusinessWomen/
  4. Monte Alban: The most authentic place in Union County to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Put on your sombrero and celebrate with food and drink specials and lots of giveaways! For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/MonteAlbanMexicanRestaurantBlairsville/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

If Cinco de Mayo celebrations don’t really appeal to you, we have a variety of other options to enjoy your Friday evening:

  1. Kilted Golf Classic: The Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games hosts a golf tournament annually known as the Kilted Golf Classic. However, no kilts are required to play, they are simply encouraged. The event is held at the Old Union Golf Course beginning at 11am with a tee time of 1pm. Enjoy food and prizes and lunch from Chick-fil-A. For more information, please follow this link: http://blairsvillescottishfestival.com/golf-classic/
  2. Girls Night Out: Enjoy one stop shopping at The Hackney Warehouse. Grab your girl friends for a fun night out while supporting local vendors. The event begins at 5pm with yummy food and drinks available. Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is coming up so this is the perfect opportunity to find something for Mom! For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/2064447500448802/
  3. Cruise In to the Farmers Market: The Blairsville Cruisers have big hearts and cool cars. Head over to the Union County Farmers Market from 4pm-7pm for music, food, trophies, door prizes, and of course some of the coolest rides in Northeast Georgia. For more information, please follow this link: http://blairsvillecruisers.com/
  4. Reservoir Dogs @ Copperhead Lodge: If you’re not really in the mood for mariachi then maybe some good ‘ol classic rock will get your toes tapping and your hands clapping. Not only does Copperhead Lodge feature a full restaurant and bar, but there is also lodging on site. For more information, please follow this link: http://www.thelodgeatcopperhead.com/index.cfm?content=1&Menu=1
  5. Old Courthouse Concert: It’s time for the summer concert season to begin in The Old Courthouse on the Square in Blairsville.  They have secured local resident and Hiawassee native, Alan Kendall for the first concert on Friday, May 5th, at 7:00 PM. Alan’s music is steeped in ministry, but he also performs a wide variety of musical styles from traditional and contemporary country to popular standards.  He easily presents a clean, family-oriented variety program for all ages. The summer concerts are presented by the Union County Historical Society as a public service and to keep alive the tradition of music in The Old Courthouse,  There is never an admission charge to the concerts.  Voluntary contributions to the maintenance fund are always welcomed and appreciated.

There is always something going on in the mountains from the peace and solitude of nature to events all around town. Keep up with the latest happenings by signing up for weekly events e-newsletters that will be delivered to your inbox every Monday morning by Clicking Here, or bookmark our event calendar and check back often: http://members.visitblairsvillega.com/events/calendar/2017-05-02

 

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3 Questions with Commissioner Lamar Paris

Commissioner Lamar Paris is a very visible figure in Blairsville-Union County as he has served as the Union County Commissioner for the last 16 years and counting. As someone born and raised in the area, Commissioner Paris has seen the County grow and develop over time and works to continually improve his hometown for the better. We caught up with Commissioner Paris to get his thoughts on where Blairsville-Union County has been and where he’d like to see it go in the future.

As the Union County Commissioner and a lifelong resident of Blairsville-Union County, you have seen a lot of change and development in the area over the years. How do you feel that this growth has affected Blairsville-Union County?
As a 9-year-old riding my bicycle to town every day, to gathering with friends in the summer on Wellborn Mountain, to hunting and playing all day, it was a wonderful place to be raised.  Unfortunately, almost everyone was poor because there were so few employment opportunities.  Many people had to leave for Michigan and other areas of the United States to find work.

So, while everyone may not agree, I feel the growth that has happened in our County has mostly been positive. There are more jobs now, a great hospital, a great school system, and exceptional recreation opportunities which would not have been possible if there had been no growth over the years. This allows more people to grow up here and then stay and raise their own families here also.  

Blairsville-Union County is a place that supports businesses that support the community. What would you recommend to current or prospective business owners in the area looking to get involved in the community?
I would recommend they join one of our exceptional community service organizations and participate from a business perspective. By doing this, business owners can meet others who can assist with their business or with simply getting to know our community. We are a very newcomer friendly community and welcome new residents and businesses. In addition to joining a civic organization newcomers can join Butternut Creek Golf Course, boat and fish on Lake Nottely, or simply enjoy the many miles of trails to better understand our community and its citizens.

What would you like to see happen in Blairsville-Union County in the next 5-10 years?
I would like to see Blairsville and Union County continue on the path we are currently following. If a community is not growing, it is usually dying, so progress is part of a vibrant community. Naturally, we hope growth is steady so that it does not overwhelm our infrastructure, but continuing to provide jobs and better employment opportunities should always be part of the focus. At the same time, we do not want to destroy what makes people want to move to Union County and the City of Blairsville. We are blessed with over 50% of our land being owned by the National Forest or TVA which is a real advantage in helping maintain a rural atmosphere as we continue to grow.