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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.

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Top 10 things to do in Blairsville-Union County for 2017

  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. Stop by Southern Highroads Outfitter shop for 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 GMREC
    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. Enjoy some grits & boiled peanuts
    Highway 129 South hosts Logan Turnpike Mill and Sunrise Grocery, home to the best stone ground grits and world famous boiled peanuts, respectively. Grab a couple of bags of each 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.

 

Blairsville Scottish Festival

Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games

For 13 years, the Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games has drawn tourists from all over to Meeks Park in Union County. Lynn Varian, the publicity director, spoke about the festival’s history and success. The event began in 2003 at the suggestion of Jim McAfee, a local realtor. McAfee was a Chamber of Commerce Board member and given the task of finding a way to bring tourism into Blairsville and Union County. Experienced with other Scottish Festivals, McAfee proposed that Blairsville hold a festival of its own. Since then, the festival has been a success and listed as a Southeastern Top Twenty Event for 10 years in a row. 

It is said that Early Scots were attracted to the area because of the similarities in the landscape to their homeland.  Rolling hills, soaring mountains, four temperate seasons, and wide open spaces brought them to North Georgia. The festival recreates the experience of Scottish immigrants with sheep herding collies and other animals. You can also test your strength at wielding traditional weaponry by heaving stones, hammers, and cabers in friendly amateur and record setting SSAAA Highland Games competitions. 

Last year 10,000 people attended the Georgia festival. During the three day event in the scenic North Georgia Mountains, visitors can watch live reenactments and listen to music featuring bagpipes and drums. Celtic singers, dancers, pipers, athletes, clans, and societies come out to provide guests with a memorable experience. Vendors with a scottish theme can participate in the festival and have the opportunity to gain exposure and sell products. There are plenty of activities for kids as well as workshops and demos for all ages.

“A large committee of local volunteers, along with assistance from the Chamber of Commerce and, of course, cooperation from the city and county make this one of the most amazing festivals in Georgia and the surrounding five state area,” said Varian. On average the festival costs $55,000 to run, and any profits made go to local charities.

The festival brings tourists to the North Georgia Mountains from the US, Canada and Europe.  “We fill the hotels, cabins, rentals and restaurants, in the 5 counties surrounding us and our local economy experiences quite a boom,” said Varian. “From gas to groceries, everything benefits.”