Category Archives: Blue Ridge Mountains

Bil Lepp telling at the 2017 Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival -- photo by Nathan Baerreis

Become Part of the Story at the Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival!

Many travelers don’t realize that Georgia has mountains–wild, beautiful, and home to a rich legacy of Appalachian culture. Minutes away from Brasstown Bald, the highest peak in Georgia, but only two hours from Atlanta, Union County Schools Fine Arts Center in Blairsville, GA, will celebrate Appalachian culture, particularly the spoken word tradition, by hosting the fourth annual Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival on 13-14 April 2018. The festival will showcase the art of Southern storytelling with a particular focus on Appalachian stories, both traditional and contemporary. The GMSF offers storytelling and musical performances, children’s events, and workshops.

In addition, The Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival will offer a free workshop for veterans titled “Story Medicine: Healing through Storytelling.” “As part of our mission of bringing storytelling to underserved audiences, we are developing community outreach programs to meet the needs of specific groups in our region for whom storytelling can be a source of healing: veterans, those affected by terminal illness, and victims of domestic abuse, for example. This year, we will offer an intensive workshop for military veterans,” said Ruth Looper, festival co-director. “Sharing stories about wartime experiences, whether verbally or in writing, is widely recognized as an important mechanism for healing. New York City’s Warrior Writing Project, the Veterans Writing Projects at VA medical centers in San Diego and Washington, D.C., and The Telling Project in Seattle have enabled thousands of veterans to speak about and come to terms with their experiences. Veterans living in rural communities like ours have less access to these kinds of programs, and we aim to change that.”

This interactive workshop will combine listening, writing, sharing, and discussion in small and large groups. Participants will be given the tools to increase mindfulness and develop a sense of belonging, a capacity for personal reflection, healthy emotional outlets, and a livelier imagination. The workshop will be led by Regi Carpenter (www.regicarpenter.com), a professional storyteller and workshop facilitator who has presented her therapeutic workshops throughout the United States, South America, and Asia for hospice organizations, non-profits, hospitals, veterans, cancer treatment centers, and bereavement organizations.

This free workshop will take place Sunday, April 15, from 2-5 PM at the Union County Community Center in Blairsville, Georgia. Seating is limited, so please sign up early by emailing info@gamountainstoryfest.org. Workshop participants will also receive free tickets to this year’s Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival.

About Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival, Inc.

Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing meaningful opportunities for an underserved audience to engage with storytelling through hearing stories and attending workshops that will develop their cultural intelligence through the arts of listening and speaking. We celebrate a variety of diverse traditions while showcasing the voices of Appalachia.  For more information, go to www.gamountainstoryfest.org.

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North Georgia Wine Country

Did you know that Blairsville-Union County is part of an official American Viticultural Area (AVA)? You’ve probably heard of AVA’s before, but just didn’t realize exactly what it encompassed. Are you familiar with names like Napa Valley and Sonoma in California or maybe you’ve heard of Martha’s Vineyard or the Finger Lakes region? In a nutshell, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau defines specific regions that are distinguishable by a unique natural boundary and growing conditions unlike any other neighboring region. For us, that region is the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA region which includes parts of Clay County and Cherokee County in North Carolina and Towns and Union Counties in Georgia. The Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA region makes the fourth designation for North Carolina and the first ever for Georgia!

An American Viticultural Area designation is not an easy process and they are not freely given out. It took a group of dedicated wine growers, spearheaded by Eric Carlson of Calaboose Cellars, four years of paperwork, petitions, and substantial evidence that Western North Carolina and Northeast Georgia features the Upper Hiwassee Watershed as a perfect natural boundary and has growing conditions unlike any other neighboring region for the eight wineries that fall into the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA.

So, what does this mean to the wineries? It means that each vineyard in the Upper Hiwassee Highlands has a way to point vintners and consumers to a special characteristic or overall quality of grapes grown in the region.  Additionally, they have permission to use a tag on their label called an appellation of origin, which proudly states the wine was made in the Upper Hiwassee Highlands region.

The vineyards that are included in the region are:

Clay County: Eagle Fork Vineyards

Cherokee County: Calaboose Cellars, Valley River Vineyards, and Nottely River Valley Vineyards

Towns County: Crane Creek Vineyards, Hightower Creek Vineyards

Union County: Paradise Hills Farm Winery, Odom Springs Vineyards

Having the AVA designation assures wine enthusiasts of a product’s quality and characteristics. So, take a ride around and get to know the wines of your region. Most vineyards offer tastings and typically have music or other fun events as you sniff, sample, and enjoy each unique vintage.

For a full listing of wineries or other activities in Union County and the North Georgia Mountains 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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Blairsville Easter Egg-stravaganza!

Can you believe that Easter is just around the corner? Make sure your kiddos don’t miss the Blairsville Easter Egg Hunt this coming Saturday, March 24 at Meeks Park! Kids ages 2 to 12 years old can hunt for over 8,000 eggs placed on three fields at the park. There will also be a drawing for an Easter Basket.

The hunt begins at 11:00 am and admission is FREE, so grab your kids and their baskets and head to Meeks Park this Saturday! In the event of rain, the makeup date is March 31 at 11:00 am. Call 706-439-6074 for more information.

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4 Tips for the Perfect Spring Break

Still figuring out what to do with your kids over Spring Break? Look no further than Blairsville-Union County! Explore the Greater Outdoors and experience all of the food, culture, and shopping that Blairsville has to offer. Here are a few tips for having a perfect Spring Break Adventure in Blairsville-Union County…

1. Have an Outdoor Adventure

Blairsville-Union County is the perfect place to unplug and reconnect with your family, and there’s no better way to do that than Exploring the Greater Outdoors!

Brasstown Bald
Get an unforgettable view of four states from Georgia’s highest peak. Learn more about Brasstown Bald here.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Union County boasts the only covered portion of the famous Appalachian Trail. You can also hike to the peak of Blood Mountain or brave one of the many other connecting trails. Learn more about hiking and other outdoor activities in Blairsville-Union County here.

Waterfalls
We have many waterfalls here in Blairsville-Union County, like Helton Creek Falls and Wolf Creek Falls, to name a few. Learn more about our waterfalls and where to find them here.

Horseback Riding
Riders of all ages and levels can experience the countryside on horseback. Find out more about riding and a listing of stables here.

2. Get Your Park On

We’ve got some of the finest parks in the state, complete with activities for every member of the family to enjoy.

Vogel State Park
Enjoy swimming, fishing, hiking, paddle boats, and more at Vogel. Learn more about Vogel State Park, and other parks in our area here.

Meeks Park
Play 18 holes of Frisbee Golf at Meeks Park’s excellent 18-hole course, let the kids play hard on the playground, batter up at one of four batting cages, let your pups have a ball at the dog park, and much, much more! Learn more about Meeks Park here.

3. Eat Well

Dine at one of Blairsville’s many amazing restaurants. There’s something to please every palette, from traditional southern food to fine dining! You will be absolutely amazed at the quality and variety of different cuisines available in our area. Browse listings and see a map of restaurants in the area here.

4. Shop ‘til You Drop

Blairsville offers a unique shopping experience, from local artisans to designer duds! Plan your shopping trip here.

Ready for your Spring Break Mountain Adventure? Call us today at 877-745-5789 or visit us online to learn more about all the fun your family can get into in Blairsville-Union County!

Come Play at Vogel in 2018!

Craving some outdoor fun after all of this crazy weather? Look no further than Vogel State Park, Georgia’s Favorite State Park! There’s truly something for everyone to enjoy at this gorgeous and historic mountain park. Learn more about Vogel State Park here.

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Don’t Let The Groundhog Get You Down!

America’s smallest, furriest weathermen may have given us a gloomy forecast of 6 more weeks of winter, but that doesn’t bother us in Blairsville-Union County! There’s still plenty to do for every member of the family in our mountain paradise, even in the cold winter months. From outdoor activities like winter hiking and geocaching to more indoor fun like winery and distillery tours and spas, there’s never a dull moment in Blairsville! Need to fight those winter blues with some comfort food? There are plenty of excellent restaurants to choose from, from good ole’ southern cooking to farm-to-table sophistication.

Learn more about everything going on this winter at our Winter Activities page!

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Blairsville Love Connection

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may be looking for a fun retreat for you and your special someone. Well look no further, because lovers and visitors alike can unplug, unwind and unite with each other while exploring the untouched, natural beauty of Blairsville-Union County! Nestled in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, amidst North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, lovebirds can take advantage of outdoor adventure and unique attractions in a calm and refreshing environment away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

With gorgeous winter mountain scenery on full display, Blairsville is the perfect setting for couples seeking a getaway. This authentic pre-Civil War mountain community is only a two- to three-hour drive from cities like Atlanta, Ga., Chattanooga, TN, and Greenville, S.C. The many cabins, B&B’s and cabin resorts offer city amenities in a country setting. Couples can enjoy relaxing in a hot tub after exploring waterfalls or taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail. There is no better place to make a wish under the stars and take in the beautiful mountain sky than from Georgia’s highest peak – Brasstown Bald. Couples may decide to propose a toast to their rekindled future at a local winery or moonshine distillery or just enjoy each other’s company sitting by the fire in a cozy cabin.

Outdoor activities are plentiful and culture and heritage run deep. Whatever you seek, the mountains will provide. Blairsville-Union County is the perfect destination to rekindle and strengthen a couple’s romantic bond.

Information: Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 1-877-745-5789, www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com; or contact Tobie Chandler directly at tourism@blairsvillechamber.com.

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Top 10 things to do in Blairsville-Union County for 2018

1. Eat collard greens & black eyed peas
After all, it’s a southern tradition. Eat these as your first meal for the New Year and you will increase your luck and prosperity for the year ahead. Let the Chamber connect you with local farmers so all your meals are sure to be fresh.

2. Hike Brasstown Bald
Experience the wonders of nature at 4,784 feet above sea level. Get your blood pumping and oxygen flowing through your lungs with this moderate difficulty 0.6 mile Summit hike.

3. Wear a kilt at the Scottish Festival
You don’t have to be Scottish to wear a kilt. Find out your tartan colors, enjoy the Highland Games and nosh on some Scottish delicacies the second weekend in June.

4. Fly fish on the Nottely River
Brown trout, rainbow trout, and native trout are abundant in our freshwater mountain streams. Grab some flies and a pole and head out to the headwaters of the Nottely River, Coopers Creek, or Rock Creek for premier trout fishing.

5. Sip Moonshine
You can’t visit the south without tasting our famous moonshine. Grandaddy Mimms’ moonshine recipe has been passed down through the generations since the days of prohibition. Swing by the moonshine museum and learn about the history of this beverage.

6. Take a garden tour at Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center
Meander through a .25 mile loop of The Woodland Medicine Trail and discover numerous woodland wildflowers, herbs, fern and shrubs that were used extensively by Native Americans and early settlers. Then enjoy the Ethnobotanic Gardens containing plants that were harvested and often cultivated by early inhabitants of the region for medicinal, food, and craft uses.

7. Get wet at Helton Creek Falls
A rock slide for the kids and a veil of water to stand behind make Helton Creek Falls a must do activity for the young and young at heart. A short hike allows you to explore the beauty of both the upper and lower falls of Helton Creek.

8. Share a bag of boiled peanuts
Sunrise Grocery on Hwy 129 features world famous boiled peanuts. Grab a bag of this southern delicacy and enjoy with your family and friends.

9. Discover past & present ghosts
History is alive in Union County. With abundant heritage tracking resources at the Union County Public Library, the Historic Courthouse on the Square, and a plethora of cemeteries, exploring your heritage back to the pre-Civil War era is a great way to connect with the past.

10. Sop up some sorghum biscuits
Nothing says Union County like the sweet smell of sorghum syrup cooking. Join the festivities of the Blairsville Sorghum Festival the second and third weekends in October for biscuit sopping, pole climbing, rock throwing, horseshoe throwing, and log sawing fun!

For more information about any of the above or various other activities available in Blairsville-Union County, please contact the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789, online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com, or by visiting the Welcome Center inside the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road.

 

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Christmas Lights & Displays 2017

‘Tis the season for Christmas lights, one of the most fun family traditions of the season! Looking for the brightest, most festive displays to enjoy this year? Fret not, we have searched hither and yon on Facebook to assemble this list for you! If you have other locations, please share them with us!

Blairsville:
Visit The Browns  and have your kids leave a letter for Santa! Take Old Blue Ridge Highway out past Mulkey Gap. Right on Ed King Road. Just before the solar panel field. Note: if you leave a letter to Santa in the mailbox, you just might receive a reply!

Down the Old Blue Ridge Hwy. Near Reds gas station, you can find The Whites at 10806 Blue Ridge Hwy in Blairsville.

Check out the beautiful Nativity Scene at Stonehenge Assisted Living, located Hwy 129 North towards Murphy, about 7 miles north of Hwy 76/129 intersection.

Come and see Downtown all lit up On the Square & at Season’s Inn Plaza.

You’ll find lots of lights on Murphy Hwy, just past the Owen Glenn entrance.

There’s a beautiful display at The Duckworth’s. Go 129 south to Arkaqua Rd. and take a right on Gene Nix Rd.

Look out for the Jones’ great display located on Jones rd off of Mulkey Gap.

Don’t forget about the display at Meadows of Ivy Log off Hensen Rd.

Misty Mountain Inn & Cottages is getting into the spirit with their new light display. They are located on Town Creek School Road, before you get to Alexander’s on the right.

Last, but not least – Sprayberry’s – 257 Windy Hill Rd in Blairsville. 2nd street past Wendy’s on the left going towards Young Harris. Saturdays from 6:30-9, photo ops with Santa and his sleigh.

 

Morganton:
On certain nights, you just might see Santa at the Williams’ on Forge Mill Road off Hwy 515 across from Cucina Rustica.

Santa can be found on certain nights at Spur 60, between Mineral Bluff and NC State line.

Hiawassee/Young Harris:
Through the town of Hiawassee, but before the School, there are some fantastic displays on Bugscuffle Road. After you see Uhaul & Parker Oil, Bugscuffle is the next road on the left.

There’s a red glow on Scataway Road that’s worth checking out. About 5 minutes past the Towns County School, see sign for Mount Zion Church on left and follow the red glow.

Be sure to visit the display at Panter House, located on the Towns County side of Gumlog.

For lights and much more, go to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Mountain Country Christmas in Lights, Thur, Fri, Sat & Sun, 6-10 PM. Food, music, arts & crafts, hot chocolate and Santa. ($5 per person)

North Carolina:
On Hwy 75, just across the NC/Ga line, you’ll find the lovely display at Penlands.

There’s much to see on Harshaw Road,  near Cherokee Hills Golf Course.

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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!