Tag Archives: mountains

Engage Your Senses This Fall

Fall DriveAutumn is my favorite season of the year. There are so many wonderful, fun, exciting ways to engage your five senses right here in Union County and enjoy experiences of which city folk can only dream! Here are a few of my suggestions for great autumn activities.

See – Take a ride along any of our scenic byways or mountain roads and delight in the explosion of autumn color – Richard Russell, GA 180, and US 129 South are a few of my favorites. This is a great time of year to make your way to the top of Brasstown Bald and see unmatched natural beauty. Finally, everyone will be able to enjoy the many scarecrows around town as part of our Scarecrow-Ville event.

Touch – Why not take a trip to an alpaca farm and pet these lovable creatures?   You’ll find a great selection of alpaca fiber clothing and accessories to keep you warm as the temperature drops.

Taste – This will be your last chance to pick up fresh, local produce at the Union County Farmers Market to make your own perfect autumn meal. Contact the Chamber for a list of old time general stores where you’ll find the perfect ingredients to complete your recipe.   Or if you are like me and prefer someone else do the cooking, try one of our many delicious restaurants including our newest Farm To Table restaurant, The Sawmill Place. Stock up on Sorghum Syrup to enhance your morning biscuit or make your way to our local winery or craft beer shop for a sip of the season.

Smell – Stop by a local retailer and pick up your favorite scented candle. The smell of apple or pumpkin pie will lift your mood. Step foot into one of our local bakeries and inhale autumn yumminess!

Hear – This is a great time for music in the mountains. Visit one of our many upcoming festivals – the Indian Summer Festival in Suches, the Sorghum Festival at Meeks Park, and the Fall Hoedown at Vogel State Park. There are concerts each Friday night at the Historic Courthouse on the square or check out our online events calendar for local music events around town.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the North Georgia Farm Trail guide in the Chamber of Commerce/Welcome Center and explore all of the agritourism sites in the area. This is the perfect time of year to get up, get out, and get happy!

For additional shopping, dining, lodging, and attraction information, contact the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789, online at wwwVisitBlairsvilleGA.com, or me directly at President@BlairsvilleChamber.com.

Take 5 With Erin Huffman

Erin Huffman, Membership Coordinator

Erin Huffman, Membership Coordinator

This week I’m introducing a new series that I’ll call Take 5. Every few weeks, I’ll spotlight a business person in our community and ask them five fun questions so that we can learn more about them and their business. I’m starting with the Chamber’s very own, Erin Huffman. Erin joined the Chamber team in January of 2014 as our Membership Coordinator. She works to recruit members to the Chamber and assists our 560 members in utilizing all the benefits afforded to them.

  1. Tell us your favorite thing you do in your position?

I love getting to know the community, not just about their business but about them. There are so many awesome people in this area who have wonderful families and stories. It’s really nice to get to know them on a personal level and build that connection with them.

  1. Which member benefit do you think is the most valuable for our chamber members?

That’s tough. There are so many great benefits. I would say the most valuable benefit would be the Chamber connections. The Chamber members are community members. They will be the ones needing or wanting your services. Those relationships can go a long way. 

  1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a grocery store cashier. I thought pushing all the buttons was so cool. I also wanted to paint houses and make designer candles. I don’t have a creative bone in my body, so I wouldn’t excel in those career paths. 

  1. What would people reading this be surprised to know about you?

I’m a pretty open book so I don’t know. I love being around people but I can be really shy in large groups of people. I also would love to go back to school and get my masters in psychology. I would love to end up being an elementary school counselor and help children in some way. 5. When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?

I love to be with family. We don’t have family too close so when we get to visit I value and cherish every second of it! 

Erin can be reached at the Chamber by calling 706-745-5789 or emailing her at membership@blairsvillechamber.com. The Chamber of Commerce is located in the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road.

And She’s Off!


Less than two months in her new position and Tourism Director Tobie Chandler is leading Union County’s growing tourism industry in a big way.  Because tourism brings people and their money to our county to support our local businesses and sustain jobs, the efforts of the Chamber to promote this leading industry are vital. Here are a few exciting things happening on the tourism front.

  • Hop along the History Trail.  The Chamber is working with a number of county partners including the Union County Historical Society and the Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center Community Council to compile a list of historical assets in Union County and organize them into a visitor friendly trail.  Historical businesses, cemeteries, attractions, and structures will all be included. 
  • Homegrown and Handmade can mean only one thing. The second edition of the North Georgia Farm Trail pocket guide to agritourism will hit the stands this week.  The Chambers of Commerce in Towns, Union , Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens counties have just released the second edition of our ultra popular guide to farms, orchards, wineries, and all things agritourism along the Georgia Mountain Parkway.  The just released second edition now includes even more places to experience our authentic mountain treats including retail outlets that primarily offer locally made gifts and treasures.
  • We made the news!  Thanks in large part to the Chamber’s tourism efforts, we have seen recent articles in Northeast Georgia Living on The Sawmill Restaurant and a feature on the Blairsville Scottish Festival and Green Bean Festival in Georgia Magazine.  Additionally, Tobie hosted a film crew at the recent Blairsville Scottish Festival that was shooting a pilot show for The Travel Channel!
  • The Chamber is now on Instagram. This photo and video sharing social media tool will be used for the primary purpose of enticing visitors to come, visit, and stay awhile.  Photos have become the easiest and most valuable way to sell the beauty of our county and lure visitors to come experience all that we have to offer.  Find us on Instagram by searching BlairsvilleChamber.  Use #iheartblairsville to tag your posts or email your photos to tourism@blairsvillechamber.com and we will likely use them in our promotions.
  • And we’re blogging!  The Chamber’s blog can be found at www.ExploreBlairsville.com.  This blog allows us to have candid conversations with the world about who we are and what we have to offer in Blairsville-Union County.  Those who follow our blog will soon be treated to the explorations of our good friend, Lottie, who will experience Union County in fascinating ways and recap her adventures.  

In addition to these great accomplishments, the Chamber is fulfilling daily information requests that come from a variety of sources about all the great things to see, do, and experience in Blairsville-Union County. We are working hard on behalf of our 560 members and a community that we love. If you have ideas, suggestions, or feedback please call our office at 706-745-5789 or email me directly at President@BlairsvilleChamber.com.

Happy Fourth!

The sky over Union County will be bursting with color this Friday night.  Residents and visitors will have their choice of two great fireworks shows to celebrate our nation’s independence.  The Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce along with our sponsor, Woodmen offireworks the World, will host our annual display at Meeks Park.  Additionally, the town of Suches has prepared a phenomenal show to be held at Woody Gap School.  Both shows will take place on the night of July 4 beginning at dark.

As in past years, the Chamber is offering chances to win $1000 by making a $10 donation toward the fireworks display.  The winner will be drawn on the evening of July 4th following the show in Blairsville and does not have to be present to win.  Tickets are available from Chamber Board Members and at the Chamber office within the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road.  You may see volunteers of the Chamber at various local businesses this week as well as in town on the night of the fireworks. Please consider a donation that will ensure the continuation of this wonderful tradition.

New this year for our member businesses is an opportunity for a fireworks raffle package.  For a minimum $200 donation, member businesses will receive 20 raffle tickets, a three month banner advertisement on the Chamber website, and one e-newsletter advertisement.  Contact the Chamber for details!

The Chamber would like to say a special thanks to Woodmen of the World, a not for profit organization offering a variety of insurance and investment options, who is helping sponsor this year’s event.  We also thank the Union County Commissioner’s Office, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Fire Department and Union County Recreation Department for providing event support in the form of fire and public safety, traffic control, and parking. 

For additional holiday events and celebrations, check out our website at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or call the Chamber at 706-745-5789.

How May We Assist

Photo courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Photo courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Summer is officially here and that means outdoor fun and family time. As you plan for your summer activities, the Chamber is here to help. Here are a few ways the Chamber can assist.

Hot Deals –Hot Deals are submitted by our member businesses. From restaurants and massages to lawn care and signage, check out the amazing discounts our members are offering you. Hot Deals can be found on our website at VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or even better, subscribe to our Hot Deals e-newsletter which sends you an announcement each time a new deal is posted! Subscribers can sign up on the Hot Deals page of the website or by calling or emailing the Chamber.

e-Newsletter Subscriptions – Did you know that the Chamber offers a variety of e-newsletter subscriptions to keep you informed of community happenings? From our website, you can enter your email address and customize your selections. Subscriptions include a weekly local events email, a seasonal festival and events email, a business and information email, and a buy local coupons and events newsletter. Choose one or choose them all! These can be used to plan your weekend, send to friends who are visiting, or include as part of your personal blog. The more you use and share, the better for everyone.

Business Directory –Through our welcome center, online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com and in our printed community magazine, we offer you a listing of our fantastic member businesses so that you need not look any further to find your next summer shopping outlet, ice cream shop, service provider, or dining establishment. Support Chamber members who support the local community!

Events Calendar – One of the most inclusive and thorough online events calendars can be found on our website at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com. You might be surprised to learn about all the unique events that happen here including live music, auctions, open houses, and races. Step out and experience the community in a new way by finding your next activity.

Itinerary Building –Did you know that we are great at helping you plan your next “staycation” in Blairsville? With new businesses opening all the time, no doubt there are things to see and do right here in Blairsville that you’ve never experienced. Ever been to Misty Mountain Model Railroad? Have you explored the new Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center? Does an Alpaca Farm peak your interest? There are tons of activities for families, couples, and individuals, and we’d love the opportunity to help you plan. Premade itineraries can be found on our website or let us help you customize one for your group.

In addition to these great offerings, the Chamber is also an all around great source for area maps, newcomer information, and Blairsville-Union County souvenir t-shirts and goodies. If we can assist you in gaining access to any of the above information, please go to VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or call us at 706-745-5789.

Win $1000!

515-fw-versionThe Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce would like to extend a warm invitation to you and all of your family and friends to join us at our annual community fireworks display to be held on Friday, July 4 from Meeks Park.  The show will begin after dark and is certain to be a memorable one.

As in past years, the Chamber is again offering chances to win $1000 by making a $10 donation toward the fireworks display.  The winner will be drawn on the evening of the fireworks, and does not have to be present to win.  Tickets are available from Chamber Board Members, Ambassadors, and at the Chamber office within the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road.  Please consider a donation that will ensure the continuation of such a great show in Blairsville.

The Chamber would like to say a special thanks to Woodmen of the World, a not for profit organization offering a variety of insurance and investment options, who is helping sponsor this year’s event.  We also thank the Union County Commissioner’s Office, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Fire Department and Union County Recreation Department for providing event support in the form of fire and public safety, traffic control, and parking.

For a list of additional events happening this year and for a variety of great coupons and offers, visit to our website at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or call us at 706-745-5789.

Keep Our Roads Beautiful

Fall DriveIf you have been in Union County very long, there is no doubt you have heard and most likely used the word beautiful to describe our landscape. Our mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and streams make our county among the most beautiful in the country. As fortunate as we are to work, live, and visit here, this beauty is an asset that can quickly be ruined by simple carelessness. I’m talking about trash on our roads and the impact it has on all of us. This damaging problem is easy to correct. Only simple changes on our part are required, but it takes a community wide effort. Today I’m reaching out to you and asking for your support in keeping our roadways beautiful.

If you are one who contributes to roadside trash, here are a few things to consider. The beauty of Union County is the product we sell.   As a Chamber, we are selling it to our visitors whose loyalty keeps local business profitable and local people employed. Real estate agents use it to sell homes and properties to their clients which also keeps our economy vibrant. Local government uses it to sell the area to businesses looking to locate in Union County which creates more jobs. Finally, each of us uses the beauty of our surrounding for our own happiness and quality of life. A clean, tidy environment is good for the economy, good for jobs, good for happiness, and good for future generations.

So here are a few easy suggestions to help keep our roadways clean. Keep a trash bag in your car to toss candy wrappers, napkins, and miscellaneous garbage that often ends up on our roads. Consider placing an attractive trashcan in front of your place of business. Visibility and accessibility of trashcans will keep our roads cleaner. Do not toss loose garbage in the back of your truck which can easily blow out. Cover open beds so that garbage does not end up on the roadways. Properly dispose of household garbage by making regular trips to the transfer station or hiring a pickup service. Lakes, steep banks, or back roads are not appropriate places to dump your garbage. Finally, be willing to pick up stray pieces of trash as you walk through your community.

These small changes can make a big difference. Keeping the roads clean can mean big returns for all of us and county resources put to much better use. Thank you to the many groups and individuals who volunteer their valuable time to clean our roadways.

Remembering Derrick Whittle

Derrick Whittle

Derrick Whittle

At the moment I write this column, it is a beautiful Friday morning overlooking Butternut Creek Golf Course. A single ray of sunshine is illuminating the mountaintop out my window. Men and women are gathering in the pro shop and stepping outside to take a few last minute practice swings. Golf carts are winding their way around the cart path. It is the day of the Derrick Whittle Memorial Golf Tournament, and it feels like our old friend is right here with us.

Derrick, our friend who was killed in the line of duty, was known and loved by so many. As I considered writing this piece, I almost felt unworthy because truly, Derrick and I were not the best of friends nor did we spend a lot of time together. But therein lies the beauty of this man. I believe that anyone can leave a lasting mark on their family and closest friends when they are gone, but it takes someone very special to leave a lasting mark on those they encountered less. Simply put, Derrick had a big heart, a giving heart and lived life in a way that all could admire.

Jim and Sharon Whittle, Derrick’s parents, have tirelessly worked to keep the memory of Derrick alive in our community. Today’s tournament, which raises money for local scholarships, is just one of many ways they are continuing the work of their son in the place he called home. Union County is so fortunate to have been blessed with Derrick Whittle. Today we continue to be blessed with the presence and work of Jim and Sharon.

As a flock of white doves flies over the golf course, I am reminded of the love that Derrick shared with so many in this community and the peace it brings all of us in knowing that he remains in our hearts forever.

Spring Itinerary

Helton Creek Falls

Helton Creek Falls

The weather has warmed and the sun is shining over Blairsville-Union County. Spring is finally here! Are you ready to spend time in the great outdoors? Here are a few ideas for putting together a wonderful spring itinerary.

Venture out on one of our three lakes, Nottely, Winfield Scott, or Trahlyta, and choose your activity. Boating, fishing, skiing, kayaking or pedal boats make great lake activities. If waterfalls are more your style, we have plenty of those too. A waterfalls guide can be obtained in the Chamber’s Welcome Center or requested online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.

Are you ready to see Union County from a new perspective?  Try taking in the views atop Brasstown Bald or exploring the lovely countryside while horseback riding. Many of the hiking trails that wind throughout the county offer incredible views that just might take your breath away. If history is your cup of tea, Union County has a lot to offer. Have you ever toured the Historic Union County Courthouse or the Mountain Life Museum? Have you seen the Trackrock Petroglyphs up close? How about the Byron Herbert Reece Farm & Heritage Center or the CCC Museum at Vogel State Park? Here is one you might not have thought of – the historic cannery and interpretive displays at the Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center.   While you are there, you can browse the ethnobotanical and native plant gardens.

There is definitely no shortage of festivals and events to attend this time of year. Weather you prefer arts and crafts, green beans, or bagpipes, you need not look any further than right here at home in Union County. Also, consider one of a host of other local events that offer music, dining, gift items, and educational activities. Those can be found on our online Chamber events calendar or by signing up for our weekly or quarterly events newsletter.

The Chamber is always ready to assist with planning your next weekday or weekend escape right here in Union County.   Check out our preplanned itineraries online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or call us at 706-745-5789.

Travel Trip To Italy

itLast year, the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce made the decision to offer a group travel experience to Ireland. Eleven travelers from the Blairsville area departed in late October for an eight day adventure in the beautiful country of Ireland. After such a great experience with our first trip, we have decided to offer a Fall 2014 group trip to the lovely country of Italy.

The Discover & Explore Tuscany leisure trip will depart on October 20, 2014. The 9 day, one hotel adventure will treat travelers to rolling landscapes, savory wines, delicious food, and stunning architecture. The cities that will be visited include Montecatini, Florence, Pisa, and San Gimignano. Optional tours include Rome/Assisi, Venice, Carrara/Portofino, and Siena. Highlighted stops include the Colosseum of Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, multiple Cathedrals, the fascinating art town of Piazza del Campo, and the gilded bronze doors of the Baptistery dedicated to St. John. Travelers will also explore the Tuscan countryside, enjoy a Tuscan feast, and learn about winemaking and the process of making fine Italian leather.

Trip pricing starts at $2,899. This price includes first class hotel accommodations, 11 meals, roundtrip airfare, baggage handling, a professional tour manager, motorcoach transportation and all taxes and service charges. Are you ready to learn more? A complimentary community presentation will be held at the Union County Community Center on Thursday, March 27 from 5:30-6:30pm. Make plans to join us! You may also email Travel@BlairsvilleChamber.com or call 706-745-5789 for more information.