Tag Archives: north georgia

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.

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.

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.


Track Rock Gap

Looking for a road trip or hike with an added layer of adventure? Head to the Track Rock Gap Archeological site.

The site is located south of Blairsville and is the only set of petroglyphs in north Georgia. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the rock carvings were made 1,000 years ago by Creek and Cherokee people. Although, the discovery of Woodland Indian sites nearby indicates that this group could also possibly be responsible for the petroglyphs.

The carvings can be found on six pieces of soapstone that are near the road in Track Rock Gap. Today, they are covered by metal cages in an effort to protect the stones from vandals. The carvings on the stones include animal tracks, feet, human-like stick figures and grid-like drawings that may be depicting village maps.

To get to the site during your road trip, you can take the Georgia Mountain Parkway 5 miles east of Blairsville, then turn right on Track Rock Gap Road. Follow it for a little more than 2 miles and the rocks will be on the right. Parking is available near the site.

Alternatively, the Arkaquah Trail is an 11 mile hike that will also take you to the rocks. Starting from Brasstown Bald, the trail takes you across a ridge for breathtaking views of North Georgia and ends at the Track Rock Gap site.

Geocaching, a Treasure Hunt in your own Backyard

Looking for an outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy? Geocaching is a great family fun excursion that is inexpensive and gets you outside. The North Georgia mountains are meant to be explored, so plug in those coordinates and go hunting for treasure!

The creation of geocaching came shortly after the improvements were made to GPS accuracy by the U.S. government in 2000.  GPS enthusiast Dave Ulmer wanted to test the new system, and so he hid a container in the woods and noted the GPS coordinates. He called it the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt” and encouraged others online to participate and posted his stash coordinates so others could look for it. This was the first instance of what we now call Geocaching.

What do you need?
For this high tech hiking trip, all you need to participate is your own GPS device – a smartphone with a GPS app will work as well. At the Geocaching website you can find geocaches (“caches” for short) all over the world to hunt. The Blairsville list even includes a cache that takes you in and around the Union County Public Library. The container may be hard to find, but keep following the coordinates and clues. The cache may include a log book to write your name in, and some “treasures” to take as a prize. Remember to bring your own small item to leave behind!

Where to go?
You can find geocaches all over the world! But you don’t have to travel far to find adventure. Geocaching is a great way to explore North Georgia, including the areas you might have overlooked. There are trails all over Georgia, including Blairsville’s own Vogel State Park. For an outdoor activity with lots of family fun, geocaching can’t be beat.

Summer Festival Guide 2016

Summer is an exciting time for Blairsville. The warm sunny weather is ideal for taking advantage of the natural beauty of this North Georgia city. It’s also festival season, a perfect time for a weekend getaway with your family to Union County. We compiled a list of all the upcoming festivals and events in and around town. Fill your summer with local artwork, good food, and fun memories.

Blairsville Arts, Crafts, and Music Festival
May 28-29
Blairsville Courthouse Square

This annual festival takes place in the historic downtown Blairsville Square. There will be over 60 vendors and live music, perfect for your family and kids of all ages.

13th Annual Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games
June 11-12, 9am-5pm
Meeks Park, 11 Pool Lane, Blairsville, GA

Discover your family clan and hang out with locals and visitors enjoying traditional games, Highland music, dancing and food with a Scottish flair. Children can compete in their own Highland games. For the “wee ones” there’s a face painting and train rides.

10th Annual Mountain Fling
June 25-26
North Georgia Technical College
121 Meeks Ave.

The Mountain Fling is a two-day juried show that features original fine art and crafts, ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, soaps, gourds, leather goods, pet items, and outdoor art.

18th Annual Butternut Creek Festival
July 16-17
Meeks Park

An annual juried arts and crafts show. This two-day festival features the work of 65 artists and craftsmen as well as live music. Held at Meeks Park.

For more information about festivals and family fun this summer in Blairsville – Union County, visit the Festivals page at VisitBlairsvilleGA.com!

Take 5 with Tommy Drake

allstateThis week’s Take 5 is with Tommy Drake of Allstate. Tommy is a member of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce and is active in the Blairsville Downtown Development Authority. He and his team are eager to assist you with your insurance and financial services needs. Let’s take a moment to get to know him better.

  1. What is your job title and what do you do at your Allstate Agency?

I am the owner of the Enotah Group, an Exclusive Allstate agency. Many people think of us as just insuring cars and houses, but we also offer insurance for businesses and commercial vehicles, builders risk, general liability, umbrella policies, off road vehicles, motorcycles, tractors, boats & collectable vehicles and even pets. We also a full range of financial services including life insurance, retirement savings, mutual funds, IRAs, annuities and college savings plans. We cover Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

  1. What is one of your favorite quotes?

My favorite quote is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emmerson (among others) although many versions of it have been circulated for quite some time:

“Watch your thoughts for they become words, watch your words for they become actions, watch your actions, for they become habits, watch your habits for they become your character, watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”

  1. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?

A few years back I crossed over into the “dark side” of fifty. This has been a very liberating age – full of changes, challenges and growth. Something happens when you hit the half century mark: you realize that it’s none of your business what other people think of you. When you get that, you’re free to think about other, more productive, things. I’m really enjoying my fifties.

  1. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I’d get my private pilot’s license – something that I’m planning to do in 2015.

  1. Have you ever met a famous person? Who and Where?

About fifteen years ago I met Joan Rivers. She was speaking at a fundraiser for the Orlando Coalition for the Homeless. Many people don’t know what a great motivational speaker she was. And she kept saying that no matter how bad today is, you will wake up tomorrow and it will be different. And she was right. You’ve got to wake up every day and start anew. Otherwise you might miss something wonderful.

To reach Tommy Drake, your local Allstate agent, call (706) 745-4400 or email tommydrake@allstate.com. His office is located at 44-B Town Square, Blairsville, GA 30512.

How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions in Blairsville

BEST-Logo-window Decal (2)January is the time of year for New Year’s Resolutions. Almost all of us have made them at some point in our lives, and probably the same number of us have had trouble keeping them. Not to worry! The Chamber is here to help you make and keep your New Year’s Resolutions while living or visiting Blairsville-Union County.

Resolution #1 – Lose Weight. This is such an easy one for those in Blairsville-Union County. Besides several great fitness centers who offer a variety of indoor equipment and classes, we live in the most perfect area to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Two of my personal favorites are hiking the many wooded trails throughout the county and walking the recreational trails at Meeks Park. No matter what your preference for activity level, Blairsville-Union County offers it all.

Resolution #2 – Save Money. Looking to save money in 2015? The Chamber is happy to help! Saving money begins with shopping local. Not only will you save on gas money, but our members are also always offering great deals. Start by checking out our hot deals on VisitBlairsvilleGA.com. You can sign up to have them sent directly to your email as they are posted. Also consider signing up for our Buy Local Coupons and Events newsletter that will send you information on our annual events that help you save time and money by shopping with our local merchants.

Resolution #3 – Volunteer. Blairsville-Union County is well known for is community minded citizens. If you have not had the opportunity to experience volunteerism in our community, this is the year to start. Local nonprofit organizations serving a variety of interests are ready to put your talents into action for the good of others. These interests include kids, elderly, animals, festivals, and businesses. Contact the Chamber for a list of places who could use your services!

Resolution #4 – Learn Something New. We are blessed with an abundance of talented people in our community who are willing to share their skills with others. Always wanted to learn to crochet or paint? Ready to learn to play guitar? Interested in calligraphy? Whatever new skill you are hoping to learn, we likely have someone who can teach it to you through educational classes right here in our town. Let us help connect you with your future instructor.

Resolution #5 – Join The Chamber. Oh, this is not one of the most common resolutions? Well, it should be! Being a member of the Chamber, whether you are associated with a business, organization, or as an individual, is one of the best things you can do for yourself in 2015! Becoming a member of the Chamber demonstrates your desire to help grow your community. Through our programs and services, you will feel more involved and connected to your community. You will be given opportunities for personal and professional development. You are almost guaranteed to be happier and more successful in the new year!

Are you ready to start making your 2015 resolutions a reality? Contact the Chamber today at 706-745-5789 and let us start you on your way. Happy New Year!

Thank You!

hdr-logo-001As we bring another great year at the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce to a close, I want to express my very best wishes and sincere thanks to all who have been part of the success of our great organization including our Board of Directors, staff, members, and community supporters. The past 12 months have been marked by noteworthy achievement and exciting change. As I reflect on the past year, I believe that we have many reasons to have enormous pride in our accomplishments and look forward with enthusiasm to next year.

One of our most outstanding achievements in 2014 was the addition of a fifth full time employee in our Chamber. Tobie Chandler was promoted to the newly created Tourism Director position and has only begun to open the lines of communication with our local tourism partners and various media outlets. Even so, we have already seen an approximate 15 percent increase in our lodging tax receipts from 2013. This is an incredible start to growing tourism related revenue for our local businesses.

Membership remains strong. Our Membership Coordinator, Erin Huffman, is to be commended for bringing in over 100 new members to the Chamber in 2014. Our total membership is on the rise and now stands at 575. This is incredible for a community of our size and speaks to the valuable partnerships that we have cultivated with our members.

Yvette Hansen joined our team as Office Administrator and has done a tremendous job of keeping our membership and community informed of Chamber and community events, while Debra Edwards did an amazing job running the friendliest and most beautiful Welcome Center in the State of Georgia.

Our organization has also continued evolving to meet the demands of a growing, changing business environment. We have put a greater focus on promoting buy local programs that are so important to our local businesses. We have offered many social media classes to help our businesses understand the value and importance of connecting with customers through various platforms. We also provided leadership growth opportunities for our businesses owners and are already seeing those efforts reap rewards through remarkable community service projects and volunteerism on behalf of the participants.

In 2014 our Chamber was proud to unveil the second edition of the North Georgia Farm Trail agritourism guide. Many owners of businesses along the trail have reported increased visitation and sales directly from this four county guide.

Finally, I was personally honored to accept the designation of Certified Chamber Executive from the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. I accepted the honor on behalf of a hard working staff, dedicated Board of Directors, and engaged membership.

Indeed, we have so many reasons to be proud of our outstanding organization. Even without room to list them all here, we have more than enough to justify enormous optimism as we move forward. Our Chamber, and all of you who are part of it, will continue to make Blairsville-Union County proud in 2015. We will maintain our momentum and actively work to shape our own future as one of the best Chambers of Commerce in the state. We will continue to make a positive impact on our community and members through tourism and economic development.

This is a great Chamber. Thanks for being part of it, and thanks so much for helping to make the past year so memorable. I invite you to join me in anticipating what we will accomplish together in the year to come.

Take 5 with Dustin Rogers

gmrecThis week’s Take 5 is with Dustin Rogers, Research Technician 3 at the Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center (GMREC). In his role at the station, Dustin is responsible for the oversight of test crops including apples and wine grapes. He also works with row crops and cattle and is responsible for ground maintenance. The grandson of Neal Moon, former Union County Extension Agent, Dustin has a long history of working around agriculture and farming and has early memories of spending time with his grandfather on the grounds of the Experiment Station as it was formerly known.

  1. What do you like best about working at the GMREC?

The first thing that comes to mind is the awesome views that I enjoy every day and the great crew that I get to work with on a daily basis. I also love the variety of jobs that I am able to do such as spraying pesticides, pruning apple trees, mowing, weedeating, and bailing hay.

  1. What is your favorite type of music?

I honestly like all kinds of music. My mom loved southern rock like Skynyrd and ZZ Top and my dad was more a fan of Alabama and Charlie Daniels. I had a lot of southern influence growing up, but Hank Jr. has always been my favorite.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is, “I’m Your Huckleberry” by Doc Holiday from the movie Tombstone.

  1. If you won the lottery what is the first thing you would do?

That’s a tough one. First I would take care of my family and friends. Then I would probably go to Vegas and try to double my money. Just kidding. I would take a long vacation though.

  1. What is your favorite hobby?

I love the outdoors. Hunting and fishing are my favorites. Also I love sports (Go Dawgs, Cindy). I play a lot of softball and basketball and enjoy coaching with the Union County Recreation Department.

For more information on the Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center call 706-745-2655 or go online to www.gmrec.uga.edu. The GMREC is located three miles south of Blairsville on Highway 129.

Catch The Christmas Spirit!

co2jpeg (3)We are entering the most wonderful time of the year, and I couldn’t be happier. Coming off of a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family, it is time begin the preparation for the Christmas season and all the magnificent joy it brings. The Blairsville-Union County community will be offering many great opportunities to celebrate the season. The following are three such events brought to you by the Chamber of Commerce.

Jingle Bell Buys: In case you missed last week’s article or need a last minute reminder, our Jingle Bell Buys event happens this weekend. For three days only, Thursday, December 4 through Saturday, December 6, 30 local merchants are offering a variety of Buy One Get One Free items or 50% off items to help you save time and money this holiday season. Find and print the full list of coupons on the homepage of our website at VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.   This event is cosponsored by Busy Bee Printing & Signs and Huddle House. The Chamber reminds you to shop local this Christmas!

Tour of Trees: Our very popular Tour of Trees has begun. Our local businesses have put their creativity into action, and we now have over 35 Christmas trees and wreaths on display at the Union County Community Center located at 129 Union County Recreation Road. The trees and wreaths will be on display throughout the entire month of December. Stop by anytime to explore and enjoy. People’s choice winners will be voted on and awarded at our Holly Jolly Christmas event. Winners will be announced in each category. Thanks to our sponsors Union General Hospital, Inc and Union General Wellness Center.

Holly Jolly Christmas: On Saturday, December 13, make plans to visit the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road from 3-6pm for our free Holly Jolly Christmas community event. Bring your family and enjoy refreshments, kids’ activities, and community musical performances. Santa will also be onsite for personal and/or professional photos. Those who attend the Holly Jolly Christmas will be given the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice awards for our Tour of Trees. Another thanks for our sponsors of this event, Union General Hospital, Inc and Union General Wellness Center.

In addition to these great Chamber of Commerce events, there are a number of community happenings over the next few weeks including the Christmas Parade, Breakfast with Santa, Kris Kringle Mountain Market, Christmas Tree Lighting at Vogel State Park, Christmas shopping events, open houses, and church musical performances. Be sure to check out our events calendar online at VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or call 706-745-5789 to plan your Christmas activities.


jingle bellsNeed a reason to shop local this Christmas?  How about 30 of them!  The Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce invites you to take part in our Jingle Bell Buys weekend event.  Thirty local merchants are offering discounts on hot Christmas gift items during normal business hours on Thursday, December 4 through Saturday, December 6.  For three days only, savvy shoppers can take advantage of a variety of “buy one get one free” deals and featured 50% off items.  Whether you are a newcomer to the area ready to discover all that Union County has to offer, or a long time resident who believes in supporting the businesses who make our local economy strong, this event is for you.

The Chamber would like to say a special thanks to Busy Bee Printing & Signs and Huddle House for sponsoring our Jingle Bell Buys event. Just to give you a taste of the great deals, Busy Bee Printing will be offering 50% any size satin or canvas photo print and Huddle House will be offering buy one get one free Smokehouse Breakfast Platters!  To receive a full list of this year’s coupons, simply go to www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or call the Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789.  If you would like to subscribe to future email coupon promotions, and never miss another great sale, go to www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com, click Newsletter Signup and subscribe to Buy Local Coupons & Events.

The following local businesses are participating in the Jingle Bell Buys event: Busy Bee Printing & Signs, Huddle House Restaurant, Snack Wagon, Cornerstone Thrift Store, Candles By Jean, Early Bird Antiques Emporium, Ugly Mug Café, The Vacuum Store, Jerae’s Unity Alpacas, Mary Kay Cosmetics – Roberta Ford, Black & White Antiques, Logan Turnpike Mill, Origami Owl – Sharon Penner, Thirty One – Rebecca Erwin, Natural Treatments for Brain & Body, Pat’s Hallmark Shop, Mountain Hope Pottery & Sculpture, Hi Country Shops, Alpha Drug Testing Services, Sundance Gallery, Galaxy Bowling of Union County, Grandaddy Mimm’s Distillery, General Supply, Mountain Crossings, Curves of Blairsville, Austin Blu, SafeGurad Lock and Vault, Aspen Hearth & Home, and Origami Owl – The Lauras.

As you are out and about, be sure to stop by the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce located in the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road.  During the entire month of December, you will be able to enjoy approximately 40 beautiful Christmas trees and wreaths that are decorated by our local Chamber members as part of our annual Tour of Trees presented by Union General Hospital, Inc and Union General Wellness Center. There is no admission fee to this event.