Monday, October 17, 2011

The Georgia Mountain Fall Festival

The Fairgrounds are Fantastic!
A shady lane passes the exhibits as it winds around
a hill overlooking Lake Chatuge. It's beautiful.
 We planned this entire trip to Hiawassee, Georgia around a single event: the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival. We'd heard a lot about the fairgrounds, but we had not yet attended an event here. The Fall festival, combined with the Autumn colors, gave us a great excuse to visit the park.

The first task in planning this trip was to identify a good campground as a home base for our adventure. The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds feature two beautiful lakeside campgrounds, but we need full RV hookups for a four night stay, and the fairgrounds do not provide full RV hookups, After doing some research, I booked us a site at Enota Mountain Retreat, a place that qualifies as a PB&J Adventures destination in itself. We camped at Enota in the Winter of 2008 when it was very cold. We wanted to return when the weather was better.

If you are an artisan and craftsperson of rustic
mountain life items, this is the place to be.
We decided to visit the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival on Saturday. Admission was half price, and Ricky Skaggs was performing in the afternoon. We were a little worried about crowds when we first saw the parking lot. I really dislike crowds, especially when I'm trying to keep up with four kids. Much to our surprise, the fairgrounds didn't seem crowded at all. Because the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds are so large, crowds seem to dissipate soon after passing through the gate. Honestly, it's the first fairground I've visited in which I felt relaxed and wasn't anxious to leave. We were always surrounded by beautiful foliage and rustic architecture.

This awesome wooden waterwheel was operating
during our visit. Very cool!
Soon after arriving at the fairgrounds, we were faced with the difficult but enjoyable task of choosing our lunch. The job proved to be more difficult than we'd anticipated. I think we ended-up purchasing food from 3-4 different food vendors. Lee Thomas and I had some exceptional clam chowder, and the others had hotdogs and various other yummy delicacies. Like the fairground, the food selection here is exceptional.

After eating, we wandered through a large variety artisan displays and exhibits. Rebecca and each of the kids got new pocket knives from the DirecTV booth, and we sampled honey at the beekeeper's association exhibit. We passed through the farm-life museum where the kids and I admired the massive collection of die- cast cars, trucks, and tractors. Rebecca and I had to explain some of the vintage equipment, tools, and kitchen appliances to the kids. As we exited the rear of the museum building, we discovered a large, fully functional wooden waterwheel. It has a strong resemblance to the one at Berry College in Rome, Georgia.

From there, we continued to explore the exhibits. There are many old buildings on display at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds. Many have been moved from other locations and reassembled here. There are numerous cabins, farm buildings, and an old one-room schoolhouse. Demonstrations of mountain farm life were happening all around. The kids were engaged the entire time, and were never bored.

By the time we'd seen the main part of the fairground, the first half of the Ricky Skaggs concert was already past. We decided to head back to Enota for the remainder of the afternoon instead. On the way back, we stopped at Track Rock Gap to see some ancient Native American petroglyphs carved into rocks there. Very interesting. More on that later. For a detailed description of the fairgrounds including dozens of pictures, click here.

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