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Vol. 18 No. 3 • Display until Nov. 30, 2017

NORTHEAST GEORGIA VIEWS Melissa Herndon Publisher/Chairman/Editor-In-Chief




A.W. Blalock Brenda Ritchey CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Linda Abernathy A.W. Blalock Brian Cooke Helen Gentry E. Lane Gresham Sydnah Kingrea William D. Powell M.J. Sullivan M.C. Tufts CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Feeling Blessed! quickly time comes and goes. Fall is a time to celebrate the harvest, the Thanksgiving

David Cannon Brian Cooke Helen Gentry E. Lane Gresham Sydnah Kingrea William D. Powell M.J. Sullivan

holiday and the beauty of the season. ◆ Last October 31 became a day of great cele-


AS THE FALL SEASON circles around again and I reflect upon another year, I realize how

Mollie Herndon

bration for me and my family as we added a new member to the Herndon family


with the birth of our first granddaughter, Lynlee. Our lives will never be the same as

Mollie Herndon

we celebrate every day with this little girl. She has inspired so many moments of

thought of celebrating her birthday during my favorite season of the year and dedicate this 17th anniversary issue to her. I look forward to experiencing the scenic overlooks from our trails series, sharing yummy apple recipes and enjoying with Lynlee all the many events that this lovely season has to offer. Forgive me if it sounds as though I am gushing, but that is what becoming a grandparent does to you! Enjoy life, love and family while creating memories to last forever. Thank you for sharing your time with us. ◆ Sincerely,

Melissa Herndon

Mollie Herndon Photo of Melissa Herndon with Lynlee by Mark Herndon; Lynlee by Melissa Herndon

smiles, laughter, dancing, hope and joy! ◆ As her first birthday approaches, I relish the


Sydnah Kingrea

◆ We invite you to share your views on Northeast Georgia Living. Please mail your comments to P.O. Box 270, Franklin Springs, GA 30639, or email us at Visit us at NortheastGeorgiaLivingMagazine. Northeast Georgia Living, ISSN 1545-5769, is published quarterly in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter by Marketing & Media Resources at 454 College Street, Royston, GA 30662. 706-246-0856. Subscription price is $14.00 annually. USPS Number 021-578 at Royston, GA 30662. Postmaster: Send address changes to Northeast Georgia Living Magazine, P. O. Box 270, Franklin Springs, GA 30639-0270. The cover and contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without written consent of the publisher. Reader correspondence and editorial submissions are welcome. However, we reserve the right to edit, reject or comment editorially on all contributed material. 2 Northeast Georgia Living

SUBSCRIPTIONS BRING NORTHEAST GEORGIA home! A oneyear subscription of four issues – Spring, Summer, Fall and Holiday-Winter – is only $14, and gift subscriptions are only $12. To subscribe, visit or call 706-246-0856 today.


Photo by Richard Hall

The bird identified in our Summer 2017 issue as a Brown Thrasher [“GARDEN: Bird-Friendly Gardening Takes Wing”] is actually a Veery, a migratory bird found throughout much of the United States.

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Arts: Mountain Melodies


IN BLAIRSVILLE, PAUL AND Sue Bergstrom have made it their mission to help people of all ages get back in touch with their musical side. The Bergstroms, their daughter and the rest of the production team at Mountain Melodies have perfected the art of producing thumbdrums, also known as kalimbas or thumb pianos. Each instrument is as uniquely beautiful as it is functional. By Helen Gentry

Trails: Scenic Overlooks


SCENIC OVERLOOKS IN NORTHEAST Georgia paint intimate, colorful scenes of the rugged Appalachian Mountains. Many of these vistas can be viewed from the comfort of your car. Some require short walks along paved paths, while others take a bit of a hike through the forests and mountain air to reach the payoff. Our top 10 places for scenic overlooks includes all three and is only the start for getting you on your way to exploring the postcard beauty that is Northeast Georgia. By A.W. Blalock


It’s Apple Time!


THE SCENT OF SPICED apples graces the fall memories of many of us. Nothing warms up the heart and body quite like your favorite apple recipes. We hope our four delicious and fragrant apple recipes bring a smile to your face as many happy fall memories come rushing back to you. Enjoy this versatile and nutritious fruit in its many forms this fall season. By Sydnah Kingrea

Where the Buffalo (and Bison) Roam


TRAVELING THROUGH THE PIEDMONT farmlands of Northeast Georgia, one often sees cattle and chicken houses, but don’t be surprised when the scene is more reminiscent of the Great Plains or of Southeast Asia. Two farms in the area maintain herds of bison and water buffalo, both of which are raised and sold for their grass-fed meat. By Brian Cooke

Twin Rivers Challenge


AN AUTUMN BIKE RIDE through some of Northeast Georgia’s most spectacular scenery during peak leaf season returns Oct. 28, 2017. The third annual Twin Rivers Challenge benefits student scholarships at Tallulah Falls School. The ride offers three routes at different skill levels, and all provide a challenge and camaraderie for a cause. By E. Lane Gresham

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Photo by M.J. Sullivan


DEPARTMENTS Made in Georgia Fall Favorites


ENJOY OUR SHOWCASE OF wonderfully crafted food, art and more created in Georgia. This issue features Georgia Grinders Pecan Butter, Hillside Orchard Farms Apple Chutney and Mustard Seed Tiny Homes. By Sydnah Kingrea

Spotlight Northeast Georgia Fall Hits



CHECK OUT OUR TOP picks for fall, which include full-moon hikes, fall festivals and celebrations, and holiday markets. By Sydnah Kingrea

Gardening The Bittersweet Truth About Bittersweet


THIS VIGOROUS VINE BEARS a prolific amount of small red and orange fruit that is sought after for fall color in the landscape and for colorful arrangements indoors. By M.J. Sullivan

Antiques Cast Iron Cookware


CAST IRON DATES BACK to fifth century China and was used for plows and weapons. Through the centuries this tough material was made into fences, gates and decorative ironwork. Then in 1865 cast iron cookware became the go-to choice for cooking on open fires. By M.J. Sullivan

Vines VIP Southern Tours


HOP ABOARD A DELUXE minivan coach for a guided tour through mountain scenery, tastings at Northeast Georgia wineries and a gourmet picnic lunch. By M.J. Sullivan

Eat, Drink & Be Merry The Red Barn Cafe



IN THE MIDST OF Northeast Georgia’s agricultural affluence, Tiger Mountain Vineyards converted a 1940s dairy barn into this appropriately named eatery. By M.J. Sullivan

Books Mushrooms


THIS COMPREHENSIVE BOOK BY Mary L. Woehrel and William H. Light covers 354 species of mushrooms found in the Southern Appalachians, across the Piedmont and down to the fall line. Over 1,100 plates and line drawings are included. By M.C. Tufts

Destination Cuba


OUR WRITER’S RECENT VISIT to Cuba felt like, in his words, “returning to a place I had never been.” Since 1959, he’s “visited” Cuba many times, and in 2017 finally made the journey he’s been expecting. By William D. Powell

Let’s Go Somewhere Today Day Trip


FARMERS IN NORTHEAST GEORGIA celebrate the culmination of the growing season by sharing their farms with the community. A family trek to the farm, where apples, pumpkins, muscadines and sweet treats like fried pies are fall staples, is a hands-on adventure. By Brian Cooke

Let’s Go Somewhere Today Events


FALL EVENTS INCLUDE FESTIVALS, fairs, music, family fun – and food! By Sydnah Kingrea

Reflections ... on the art of release


FALL IN NORTHEAST GEORGIA is an exquisite display of the power of change, so what better time to pursue our own paths of transformation? By Linda Abernathy




Fall 2017 7





Georgia has an abundance of human and natural resources. Here are a few of our favorite examples of entrepreneurship that result in products you will want to become familiar with this fall.

Hillside Orchard Farms Apple Chutney

Handcrafted in Lakemont, Ga., and made entirely from fresh and natural ingredients like crisp apples and sweet red peppers, Hillside Orchards Apple Chutney is like no other chutney you’ve ever tried before. This vinegar-based chutney is slow-cooked with the perfect combination of spices, like cayenne and celery seed, to create an unbelievably smooth and creamy relish with a slight kick. It pairs nicely with any chicken dish or enhances the flavor of your favorite cheese-andcrackers appetizer. To order Apple Chutney or any other chutney created by Hillside Orchards Farms, from pear to tomato, visit or visit the store in person at 18 Sorghum Mill Drive, Lakemont, Ga.

Georgia Grinders Pecan Butter

Tiny homes are progressing in popularity these days, and Mustard Seed Tiny Homes are leading the way. These perfect little houses have all the class and sophistication you could want in a residence within a perfect, miniature and movable package. Mustard Seed Tiny Homes, located outside of Atlanta, builds premium but affordable tiny houses of various modern designs from quality materials. Live life unfettered and pursue your dreams of travel and simple living with a tiny home from Mustard Seed Tiny Homes. Visit mustardseed to see a variety of designs.

Special Photos

Few things are quite as Southern as a good pecan recipe. Georgia Grinders Pecan Butter perfectly encompasses everything we love about this versatile nut of the South. Created with all-natural ingredients and a slow-roasted cooking process, this smooth nut butter is almost too good to be true. With a powerful dose of protein and healthy fats, Georgia Grinders Pecan Butter adds a nutritious punch to any snack and will keep you happy and full for hours. Order your own jar and a few more as gifts for others today at A great variety of other nut butters is offered too, including Pecan Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Vanilla Pecan Peanut Butter, Maple Caramel Powdered Peanut Butter and many more.

Mustard Seed Tiny Homes

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Traveler’s Rest Pioneer Days

Oct. 14, 2017 Traveler’s Rest Historic Site in Toccoa invites you to a memorable live demonstration of weaving, blacksmithing, hearth cooking, river boating and other skills that were commonplace among the pioneers of the 1800s. Built in 1815, Traveler’s Rest is a National Historic Landmark and was once a stagecoach inn and a plantation home. Enjoy the exposition and live period music from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $2-$5. Call 706-886-2256 to learn more.

Blairsville Sorghum Festival

Oct. 14-15 & 21-22, 2017 Visit Meeks Park in Blairsville from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the second and third weekends in October and spend the day celebrating traditional sorghum making. A parade, log sawing, greased pole climbing, kidfriendly activities, arts & crafts vendors and local food and beverages will be featured. Call 706-745-5789 or visit for more information.

Full-Moon Suspension Bridge Hike

Oct. 5, 2017 Visit Tallulah Gorge State Park for a magical experience in the cool mountain air. Enjoy a short hike to a suspension bridge below the rim of the gorge for a fullmoon view of the falls and the gorgeous landscape. The event will take place from 7:30-9 p.m. There is a $5 fee for the event, and parking is $5. No pets allowed. Call 706-754-7981 to register in advance.

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Nov. 3-5, 2017 The 13th Annual Jefferson Holiday Market will be held on Friday, Nov. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. Admission fees this year will benefit Jackson County Habitat for Humanity. Donate to charity and get all of your holiday shopping done in one place surrounded by the joy of the holiday season! The market will be located at 65 Kissam St. in Jefferson. For more information, call 706-367-5754 or 706-367-5714.

Home for the Holidays

Nov. 21, 2017 The “Home for the Holidays” Tree Lighting in Hart County is an annual event where families and friends come together to ring in the holiday season with a tree lighting celebration, caroling, carriage rides, s’mores and visits with Santa. The event, which will take place in downtown Hartwell on West Franklin Street, begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends around 7:30 p.m. For more details, contact the Hartwell DDA by email at or by phone at 706-376-0188. ◆

S p e c i a l p h o to s ; Ta l l u l a h G o rge co u r te sy G a . D e p t . o f N at u ra l R e s o u rce s

Jefferson Holiday Market


The Bittersweet Truth About



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sweet. Like so many other indigenous plants, American bittersweet is being threatened by the “overbearing” presence of its Oriental botanical cousin, which has rooted itself with a vengeance into the North American landscape. By now, you may feel that you yourself have been entangled in the prolific vine and are gasping for air, or at least a little clarification. What difference does it make which Latin name is harder to pronounce? Basically, it boils down to this: both American bittersweet and Oriental bittersweet are vigorous deciduous vines. Both bear the beautiful yellow and orange fruit that bursts with red berries when fully ripe. And both are considered invasive. However, horticulturists consider the Oriental variety

The spectacular splash of bittersweet’s red and orange berries announces that autumn has arrived.

much more invasive, to the point of being an environmental threat. Noted landscaper David Beaulieu, addressing the subject of bittersweet online at, says that, in many areas, American bittersweet is being designated a protected species.“Oriental bittersweet vines threaten to kill trees, while American bittersweet plants are themselves threatened. Capable of reaching four inches in diameter, Oriental bittersweet vines wrap so tightly around their victims that the trees are stran-

Bittersweet with pumpkins by Sara Wise

his is a bittersweet story about a plant that has entwined itself in-to our hearts as a sentimental favorite while at the same time bringing with it a number of risks. For many, it heralds the fall season in a spectacular splash of red and orange berries, announcing to the world that autumn has arrived. Long used as an accent in floral arrangements and wreaths, bittersweet is more than just a showy ornamental. It may also be used as a landscape plant. But here the cautionary tale begins. It is thought that the plant derives its name from the slightly sweet taste of the pulpy berry, which also delivers an astringent aftertaste. However, it is important to note that several references suggest that all parts of the plant are poisonous and should not be ingested. While there are many cousins in the bittersweet family, we will address only two: American bittersweet, Celastrus scandens, which is also known as false bittersweet, the native plant with which most people are familiar, and Celastrus orbiculatus, one of two Oriental bittersweet varieties commonly called Chinese or Oriental bitter-

gled in a process called girdling.” Even if the tree is not strangled, the heavy shade created by the bittersweet’s foliage can smother the tree. Small trees have been uprooted by just the sheer weight of the vines. Caroline Lupo of Buds and Blossoms in Clayton has experience with bittersweet, both in the greenhouse and as a florist. As former owner of Buds and Blossoms, she used to sell the plant for propagation but it’s no longer offered because, in order for it to bear fruit, both male and female plants are required. Since it is difficult to distinguish between the two, it is often difficult to get the plant to bear the much-admired fall berries. She says that roadside farmers markets or wholesale florists are the best sources for the vines in autumn. Buds and Blossoms receives many requests for floral arrangements using the plant but acknowledges that there are some drawbacks. “Although it is really pretty and reminds us all of fall, the berries come off easily and leave a red stain when crushed. Also, it is thought that all parts of the plant may be toxic and, therefore, should not be used in table arrangements or anywhere else that children or pets might have access to the berries,” says Lupo. In response to one bride’s request for bittersweet in her wedding bouquet and floral arrangements, Lupo declined, explaining her concerns about the possibility of staining carpets and clothing with that much activity. Instead, Lupo investigated alternatives with wholesaler after wholesaler until she was able to find a suitable artificial substitute. “It took a long time, but I finally found an artificial vine that looked so real you would have had to be an expert to tell the difference.” She suggests that if you do obtain the vines in October or November, the best way to preserve their fruit is to spray with a clear lacquer or use a silicone aerosol, which can be purchased from florists. For the brave of heart who enjoy having a challenging plant in their landscape, Michael A. Dirr, professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia and author of the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, says that, although bittersweet has very little landscape value, it may be grown in rough areas such as rock piles, fences and over old trees. And, even with its drawbacks, he does concede that “the fruit is very handsome.” ◆ Fall 2017 13


Cast Iron Cookware


t’s autumn. Evenings are turning cooler. It’s the ideal time to gather around a campfire and reflect on a day spent hiking and discovering waterfalls and overlooks. What could be better than fresh trout fried over an open fire in a well-used, well-seasoned cast iron skillet? Add a side of cornbread browning in an old Dutch oven, and you have the perfect close to a day in the mountains. Some of the oldest cast iron artifacts date back to fifth century China, where cast iron was used in construction, agriculture and warfare. Today cast iron has many applications, such as architectural ornamentation, doorstops, benches, hardware, toys, etc. However, it is most often thought of in the context of cookware. The iron used in the manufacture of this cookware is usually pig iron formulated with steel, limestone and carbon. Lodge Manufacturing Company, based in South 14 Northeast Georgia Living

Pittsburgh, Tenn., and still in operation after 121 years, has an eye for recycling and uses a slightly modified formula. Pig iron, carbon, silica, recycled scrap steel from other manufacturing processes and recycled cast iron from imperfect production pieces are all incorporated into Lodge’s production process. Even before Lodge began casting iron in 1896, Griswold Manufacturing Company of Erie, Penn., was making cookware. Griswold’s foundry operated for 93 years, from 1865-1957, and produced a high-quality line of cookware using the superior iron ore mined in that region. Items from their line, which included skillets, muffin pans, roasters, bread molds, waffle irons, kettles, Dutch ovens and miniatures, are highly prized by collectors today. Other manufacturers producing cast iron during that era include Wagner, Martin Stove & Range, Wapak, Piqua Ware, Birmingham, and

In 1865 cast iron became the go-to cookware and, still today, has wide appeal for both cooking and collecting.

Vollrath, to name a few. Vintage cookware from these companies is valued because of its lighter weight and smooth surface, two attributes that distinguish older cast iron from its newer counterparts. Savvy collectors and antiques dealers often seek authentic Griswold items such as the #12 skillet, which can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, with lids commanding equally high prices. Griswold’s #5

skillets, made only in 1907, may also sell for several hundred dollars. During the company’s history, they used a variety of logos, so it is best to consult a reliable source before investing. Easily recognizable indications of a reproduction are a heavier weight, poor quality casting, faint markings and orange-colored rust. When it comes to caring for cast iron, the long-held myth about never using soap has been refuted. It was true that in 1865, when Griswold first began manufacturing, using soap was not recommended. That was because soaps of that era contained lye, which can remove a pan’s seasoned finish. However, with today’s mild solutions, that is no longer a concern. Although cast iron should never be left soaking in soapy water, a gentle soapy swipe and quick rinse after using a pan should not damage a well-seasoned surface. Actual Martha Stewart demonstrations under the subject title “Caring for Cast Iron” may be seen at To remove mild rust, the folks at, a presentday manufacturer of cast iron cookware, recommend using a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water with a little steel wool or 220-grit sandpaper. Then rinse and repeat the gentle washing and drying process. The Internet is rife with harsh techniques showing how to clean heavily rusted, encrusted cookware, some of which involve oven cleaners and campfires. To find out more, check online using the keywords “restoring cast iron.” As in all things restorative, sometimes less is more, so discretion is wise. If you’ve ever wondered why our great grandmothers were of such hearty stock, it may have been the cast iron cookware they used every day. After all, when you think about it, they were pumping iron long before Arnold Schwarzenegger ever picked up a weight. ◆ To find more information on cast iron collecting and identifying marks, or simply for cast iron collector camaraderie, visit these websites: • The Cast Iron Collector • Wagner & Griswold Society • Griswold Cast Iron Cookware Association Fall 2017 15



hen Christina Ernst of Sautee launched her business, VIP Southern Tours, she had several goals in mind. First of all, along with other business owners and White County officials, she wanted to help bring more tourists to the area. Secondly, she was interested in promoting Georgia’s burgeoning wine industry. In addition, she wanted to share with visitors the beautiful region she calls home. From an early age, Ernst worked in her father’s European collectibles store in Helen, gaining self-confidence as she interacted with the public. Being reared in a bilingual home also was an asset when she eventually established herself as a travel agent hosting tours to Europe’s Alpine region. Owning her own travel agency for 20 years helped to prepare her for the challenges of expanding her business in 2013 to include VIP Southern 16 Northeast Georgia Living

VIP Southern Tours Tours.“After meeting with county officials, it just seemed like a natural extension of my existing business. I had an ‘aha!’ moment, and I felt I wanted to explore the possibility of creating a wine touring experience for visitors,” says Ernst. This region of Georgia, which has seen substantial growth in wineries since the turn of the century, is also an area rich in American history. The lush, pastoral Sautee-Nacoochee Valley, which runs parallel to the town of Sautee, has been home to several Native American cultures. One of the most well-known sites in the valley is the Indian burial mound that sits at the junction of Georgia State Routes 17 and 75. The mound was excavated in 1915 and found to be the sacred resting place of members of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture. They are thought to have occupied the land from 1350-1600 C.E. In the 1980s the Sautee-Nacoochee

Christina Ernst (above, at right) launched VIP Southern Tours to promote Georgia’s burgeoning wine industry and offers comfortable tours, tastings and sightseeing in Northeast Georgia wine country.

Valley was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. The village of Sautee itself has the distinction of being listed as one of the small towns in John Villani’s book 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America. It is this rich history, as well as the bucolic beauty of Northeast Georgia, that Ernst wants to share with guests on the tours she hosts. Ernst says, “When guests sign up for a tour, they can truly expect VIP service. One of our deluxe minivan coaches,

P h o t o s c o u r t e s y o f V I P S o u t h e r n To u r s

Northeast Georgia Wine Country: Up Close & Personal

each equipped with individual leather bucket seats, will pick them up at their home or hotel and drive throughout the day to a minimum of four area wineries. Tours also include a generous gourmet picnic lunch as well as prepaid tastings. Our drivers are not only chauffeurs, they are specially trained tour guides as well. Throughout the drive, they narrate points of interest as the journey progresses. At the end of a day of relaxation, guests are driven back to their place of origin. It is the safest way for our visitors to enjoy a day of wine tasting without worrying about negotiating our curvy, winding roads. Having a designated driver can really be an asset in the mountains.” The company offers both full-day and half-day bookings for trips to wineries in Lumpkin, White, Rabun and Towns counties, as well as for jaunts as far west as Ellijay. In addition to public group tours, the company offers bookings for special event activities, such as holiday outings, office parties, private celebrations, bachelorette outings and unique custom tours. While approximately 20 percent of their business comes from vacationing Floridians, 70 percent is from cities close by, such as Athens, Atlanta and other towns in Northeast Georgia. However, they have had bookings from as far away as New Zealand, France and Canada. According to Ernst, “About eighty percent of our guests find us by searching the Internet. We also get a lot of repeat business from social media like Facebook and Instagram. Many of our clients find us merely by word of mouth.” “I love to travel. It has always been an important part of my life,” Ernst says. “Of course I love meeting new people, but more than that, I enjoy matching people with the travel experience that best suits them. VIP Southern Tours is a great fit for wine enthusiasts.” Summed up in their own words, VIP Southern Tours wants visitors to know that after a day of touring, their “guests will leave with not only a more refined understanding of local wines, but also a lasting and powerful memory of their day in north Georgia wine country.” ◆ To find out more about the tours, visit them online at Or you may phone them at 706-878-1011. Cheers! Fall 2017 17


The Red Barn Cafe Rustic, Romantic, Refined Dining


ne of the advantages of living in Northeast Georgia is the abundance of farm-fresh produce available throughout much of the year. Its fields lush with crops like sweet corn and tomatoes, Rabun County is blessed with mineral-rich soil that produces from March through October. In the midst of this agricultural affluence, the owners of Tiger Mountain Vineyards, John and Martha Ezzard, along with their partners, John and Marilyn McMullan, decided to establish a restaurant on the winery property. The Ezzards’s old dairy barn with its historical roots and iconic presence

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agricultural affluence, Tiger Mountain Vineyards has converted a 1940s dairy barn – where, at age 6, John Ezzard did his milking chores – into this appropriately named eatery.

modern kitchen. Inside the old barn itself is a small room with a sign reading “calf pen” where a young John Ezzard once milked cows. Now it serves as a casual overflow seating spot for guests during special events. Add to this rural ambience an experienced Europeantrained chef, and you have a winning combination for a satisfying culinary experience. Chef David Sweeney of Augusta, who spent several years living in Germany and practicing his craft, now brings his skills to the Red Barn Cafe. While in Germany, he worked with Chef Elisabeth

Peters, focusing on macrobiotic cooking and the biodynamic philosophy of eating regionally grown food. After returning to Georgia, he spent several years in some of Atlanta’s finest restaurants prior to bringing his special talents to the mountains of Northeast Georgia. Chef Sweeney’s philosophy of food is simple. He endeavors to create his menus from the freshest locally grown in-season produce available. “People who take advantage of food grown in their own community, in a sense, develop a unity with their environment. It is healthier for your immune system to ingest food grown in the soil where you live. It develops a harmonious symbiotic relationship that promotes good health,” says Sweeney. A practical illustration of this would be when people with allergies obtain beneficial effects from eating local honey and thereby build a resistance to tree and plant pollens. Whenever possible, Chef Sweeney buys locally for the Cafe. Some of his favorite

Old barn and young John courtesy Tiger Mountain Vineyards

was chosen for the project. Built in the 1940s, the barn yielded its frame to a major makeover, and the renovation began. When finished, the eatery was appropriately named the Red Barn Cafe. An addition on the west side of the barn houses the actual restaurant, which includes a seating area and bar as well as an outdoor open-air patio to accommodate extra tables. The original tack room was redesigned to create a well-equipped

In the midst of Northeast Georgia’s

sources in Rabun County are Darby Weaver’s Timpson Creek Farm and the Mashburn’s Mill Gap Farm. In addition, he also frequents the Saturday farmers market held at the Food Bank in Clayton. Outside the county, he sometimes ventures south to the DeKalb Farmers Market in Atlanta, still well within the region. When formulating the menu for the restaurant, he says his strengths lie in the creation of food combos and flavor combos and in his unique vegetable preparations. One of his tantalizing vegetable combinations is an appetizer created with freshly marinated artichokes, fava hummus, parsley, smoked tomato and black and white sesame, served with potato bread. Although many of his menu items are decidedly vegan, entrees of Angus beef strips and poached trout are also available. For dessert, a raw chocolate pie on a maca-almond crust topped with golden berries and toasted coconut will satisfy any sweet tooth. As expected, Tiger Mountain Vineyard wines are available and are served by the glass or by the bottle. In addition, Sweeney has added two regionally crafted beers to the menu. The Red Barn Cafe, located at 2592 Old Highway 441 S. in Tiger, is open only on weekends from May through midNovember. Hours of service are Fridays, 5:30-9 p.m.; Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9 p.m.; and Sundays, 11:30 a.m.2:30 p.m. Weather permitting, alfresco dining is available on the patio; however, seating is limited, so reservations are suggested and should be made by calling 404-5633706 in advance. To visit the restaurant online, go to and click on Red Barn Cafe. During the off season, Chef Sweeney is available for catering and may also be found promoting one of his personal creations: the “Seedy Bar,” a healthy nutrition bar formulated using ancient grains such as quinoa and amaranth. For more information regarding Chef Sweeney, his philosophy and his culinary creations, visit “It’s a distinctively romantic place,” says Martha Ezzard, referring to the restaurant. “We have had several couples become engaged during dinner and then return to marry in our vineyard venue.” Obviously the Red Barn Cafe serves more than inspired cuisine. Come judge for yourself and experience the magic. Bon appétit. ◆ Fall 2017 19



he early summer of 2017 was one of the most delicious seasons in recent culinary memory. Along the footpaths from a small creek in a Georgia Piedmont forest, chanterelle mushrooms emerged in dramatic numbers. The drenching rains of the year combined with days of high humidity – and whatever other mysterious conditions that these mushrooms enjoy – made for easy gathering and delicious appetizers at the summer table. We were careful to collect only a few in the early weeks of June as we didn’t want to jeopardize the chance to have a continuous supply. But our concerns were a little overblown. For weeks and weeks more of the beautiful bright orange mushrooms emerged along the path. We cut them at the base, cleaned off any remaining dirt and leaves, and then sautéed them with a little butter and pepper. A great way to start a meal from the farm’s wild garden. Foraging and eating from the wild is a growing hobby and business for some adventurous restaurateurs and, fortunately, our area of Northeast Georgia offers up many delicious mushrooms. The chanterelle is one of the most easily identified edible mushrooms, distinguished by its bright orange color and forked, wavy gills. They can grow to about 5 inches across and emerge directly from the soil (as opposed to old logs). But of course, mushroom eating can be dangerous; many of our North American mushrooms are highly toxic, so make sure you are foraging with an expert. The new, exhaustive guide from the University of Georgia Press, with support from the Wormsloe Foundation, will become a staple reference for anyone interested in serious mushroom identification in our area. Mushrooms of the Georgia Piedmont and Southern Appalachians: A Reference by Mary L. Woehrel and William H. Light is being released by the press this October. Over 600 pages of photographs and taxonomic information make this the most exhaustive guide (really more of an encyclopedia) for novices and experts alike. Too big to carry into the field, we hope the 20 Northeast Georgia Living

UGA Press will consider a pocket guide in the near future. For now, however, this tome is sure to amaze anyone interested in fungi and is our best and most thorough reference to date. The chapter on chanterelles alone quickly taught us that we know next to nothing about chanterelles, though we’ve been eating them all our lives. It turns out they come in a variety of hues, from creamy yellow to light orange to the deep red-orange of the ones found on our farm in Madison County. Even their shapes differ – from the familiar trumpet shape to cap-like. Not all are edible, which is why this book will be welcome to the growing food-foraging community. The comprehensive book covers 354 species of mushrooms found in the Southern Appalachians, across the Piedmont and down to the fall line. The Piedmont is a surprisingly rich landscape for these fascinating life forms. Over 1,100 plates and line drawings are included, along with detailed information on how to distinguish edible mushrooms from dangerous look-alikes. Authors Woehrel and Light are both dedicated mycophiles. Woehrel is founder and past president of the Mushroom Club of Georgia; Light is a professional biologist and researcher. For more information, contact the University of Georgia Press at ◆




y recent visit to Cuba felt like returning to a place I had never been. The visit actually began in 1959 when my family moved to south Florida and I met two teenage Cuban boys whose families had fled the impending revolution. While I no longer remember their names, I will never forget their stories of life on the island that they said was the most beautiful place in the world. The teens shared stories of their childhood in the Havana area: beaches, tropical flowers, delicious fish from the sea and friendly people. My time with them was soon over as I began my freshman year in college. Any chance of going to Cuba after college was not possible because of family

22 Northeast Georgia Living

circumstances and the travel ban imposed by our government. In late fall of 2016, the travel restrictions to Cuba were relaxed. My dream of a “return visit” was rekindled. Sharing my dream of visiting Cuba, my oldest daughter said she could arrange a visit through a colleague. Arrangements were made, and in late March of 2017 the two of us, along with my middle daughter, boarded a Delta airplane in Atlanta, and off to Cuba we went. A driver arranged by our Airbnb host met us at the Havana (Habana, to the Cubans) airport. We drove in a cobbledtogether but shiny 1952 Chevrolet to Villa Diego. Once we settled in at the villa, the three of us set off with our cameras to experience and photograph Havana on a Saturday night. Near the old historic National Hotel, there was an outdoor festival with music, dancing and food vendors. Thousands of people filled the streets, many greeting us with a smiling “hola,” which we returned. For almost a week we had fun seeing the sights and sounds of this vibrant city, which is full of friendly people with lots of pride. A visible police presence made us feel safe, and we were always treated kindly. We spent 10 to 12 twelve hours per day walking or driving, seeing and doing the

things that my daughters had planned for us. Sidewalks are uneven and often broken, so walking can be tricky. However, the way to really experience Havana is on foot. Like most cities, we found Havana to be a city of paradoxes. It is modern on the one hand, old and run down on the other. There is poverty such as we had never seen and wealth beyond belief. Air pollution is oppressive. In addition to our exploration of the city of Havana, we enjoyed excursions. We visited uniquely adorned Fusterlandia, where folk-art mosaic tiles are on every building and wall, Bella Vista and the beautiful surrounding mountains, a tobacco farm where Cuban cigars are hand rolled, and a former coffee plantation. We dipped our toes in In Havana, Spanish-influenced architecture and vintage American cars have become icons of Cuba, now open to tourism from the United States for the first time since the Cold War began. Costumed street vendors in Old Havana add another colorful touch to the city.

FROM THE TOP: The scenic Vinales area outside Havana offers resort hotels and rugged views of the countryside; streets come alive at the Saturday night street festival near Havana’s National Hotel; vegetable markets are abundant in Havana; much sought after and U.S.banned Cuban cigars are still handrolled; writer William Powell and his daughters relax near folk-art mosaic tiles in the Fusterlandia area of Havana.

the ocean at Santa Maria del Mar beach and rode on the 1940s electric train to the abandoned Hershey factory. Havana has been the island’s leading commercial center ever since the island was settled by Spain in the early 1500s, and the city’s architecture reflects that Spanish influence. Beautiful European-style squares and plazas grace the city. However, the oldworld charm of the past took a turn in the latter part of the 20th century when the Russian presence left its distinctive mark on Havana’s newer buildings. With the exception of the recent Russian architecture, we felt as though we were in Spain or Italy rather than in the Caribbean. The native people are of Spanish or African slave descent, and their offspring are a mix and have the brown skin we associate with Cubans. The iconic American cars from the ’50s still run as the result of Cuban resourcefulness, since parts are not available. These cars consist of any part that will keep them running, but exquisite detail is lavished on the body, paint and upholstery. Newer cars are Russian, while the newest ones are Chinese. The streets are bustling with traffic: cars, bicycles, motorbikes and even animal-drawn carts. Drivers are aggressive, using their horns frequently. “Life” does not have the right of way. My suggestion is that if Cuba is a place you would enjoy visiting, go now. With the expected influx of American tourists, the atmosphere of this beautiful island will change, and much of what makes it distinctive will be lost. In addition, over the coming months new restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba may be imposed, and going on a cruise ship may become the only option. ◆ 24 Northeast Georgia Living


Day Trip

Fall Fun on the Farm Apples, pumpkins, muscadines and sweet treats like fried pies and cider donuts are fall staples. While food is the undeniable highlight, a family trek to the farm is a hands-on adventure. Mercier Orchards, located in the famed apple region of Georgia, has focused on apples since Bill and Adele Mercier started the farm in 1943. The first stop at Mercier Orchards is the market. Pick up a popular fried

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Hay wagon ride at Hillside Orchard Farms; apple picking at Mercier Orchards; wagons stand ready at Kinsey Family Farm; pumpkins can be picked – or picked out – at

26 Northeast Georgia Living

Jaemor Farms. pie or a full meal at the deli (open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Sample some of the 50 apple varieties grown at the farm and grab a bag of your favorite to take home. Fall is “all about the apple u-pick,” according to Mercier Orchard’s Magie Mayer. Apples are available in the market all fall, but “u-pick” occurs only in August

Special photos


eorgians dream of fall long before the mercury drops. Cooler weather brings a kaleidoscope of changing leaves, high country hiking plans and football tailgates. Falling temperatures also mark the fall harvest. Some farmers celebrate the culmination of the growing season by sharing their farms with the community, and the results are delicious.

and September. Purchase u-pick passes outside the market and line up to ride the tractor to the orchards. Staff-led tractor tours, says Mayer, provide information about the farm’s history, operations and the in-season apples. For Patsy Mitcham at Hillside Orchard Farms, the appeal of u-pick is clear. “Families want kids to get outdoors and pick apples from the tree themselves.” The farm began manufacturing wholesale jellies and jams in 1983. Owners Robert Mitcham Jr. and Patsy Mitcham have spent the past 10 years transforming the farm into a fall family destination. Young children enjoy traversing the farm by hayride or the weekend-only train. Older children will be enticed by the corn maze, which stands tall through Thanksgiving. Admission to the corn maze comes with a farm-based trivia game and a complimentary ice cream cone. Hillside Orchard Farms’ fall activities occur August through November (MondaySaturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays). Local bluegrass music is planned for Saturdays in October, and on Nov. 4, the Fall Farm Day & Sale features select items from the store at a discount. Fall harvest also peaks in October at scenic Jaemor Farms. Weekends on the farm are full of excitement. However, according to Jaemor Farms’ Caroline Lewallen, a visit in September, on Friday nights or on weekdays provides the opportunity to enjoy the same fall activities in a quieter atmosphere. Jaemor Farms has diversified since opening in 1981 as a peach and cotton producer. The farm produces eight apple varieties. They also offer a u-pick option, in September and October. Bruised apples never make it to the checkout counter; instead, visitors can launch bad apples from the apple cannon. The large pumpkin patch is also open for u-pick on October weekends and select weekdays. For an all-around experience, purchase Jaemor Farms’ all-access pass ($14/person). Pass holders gain access to the train-themed corn maze (which opens for the season on Sept. 9), hayrides, a petting zoo, the apple cannon and outdoor games. Aside from fun and games, says Lewallen, “when customers visit our farm, they see a real working farm. We harvest 500 acres of fruits and vegetables off our land annually.” Peruse the bounty by detouring into the market (open Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.Fall 2017 27

6 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sundays, 1-6 p.m.) located uphill from the corn maze. Andy Kinsey of Kinsey Family Farm similarly sees fall as a lighthearted way to connect the public to Northeast Georgia’s agricultural heritage. From cattle to catfish, people of all ages enjoy interacting with farm animals, says Kinsey. “When else in life will most people have the chance to pet a bull?” Hayrides begin in mid-September, and the pumpkin patch (open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.6 p.m.) offers pumpkins for anything from decoration to dessert. The farm also carries kitchen provisions, including locally produced jams, jellies, honey, cider and salsa. For solitude, Kinsey recommends weekday visits.“Some young families arrange vacations to visit the farm on a weekday in fall. They will picnic, nap and stay all day.” A weekend visit has its perks, too. Weekend concerts and storytellers are announced on the farm’s website. Come November, Kinsey Family Farm is readying Christmas trees, as it has since it opened for business in 1981. Fall is a narrow window of perfect weather, warm days and cool nights – things best appreciated outdoors. Start a family tradition of celebrating the fall harvest alongside these Northeast Georgia farms, and make sure to bring your appetite. ◆ For more information about these farms and their fall season offerings: Mercier Orchards 8660 Blue Ridge Road, Blue Ridge, GA 30513 800-361-7731 Hillside Orchard Farms 18 Sorghum Mill Drive Lakemont, GA 30552 706-782-2776 Jaemor Farms 5340 Cornelia Highway Alto, GA 30510 770-869-3999 Kinsey Family Farm 7170 Jotem Down Road Gainesville, GA 30506 770-887-6028 28 Northeast Georgia Living


FESTIVALS ATHENS/CLARKE COUNTY 33rd Annual North Georgia Folk Festival: Oct. 7, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sandy Creek Park, Athens. This fun-filled day in the park offers arts and crafts, food and music, featuring 14 acts on two stages. Tickets are $8 for students and $15 for adults. Children under 12 admitted free. (The park charges an additional $2 per person for ages 4-64.) Please visit

HABERSHAM COUNTY 30th Annual Big Red Apple Festival: Oct. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., downtown Cornelia. Come enjoy arts and crafts from local artisans, a kids’ zone, a classic car show, live entertainment, great food vendors and more! Visit www.cornelia for more information.

TOWNS COUNTY Georgia Mountain Fall Festival: Oct. 13-21, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hiawassee. Attend this great family event with fun for all, crafts, music and good food.

UNION COUNTY Fall Hoedown at Vogel State Park: Oct. 21, noon-7 p.m., Vogel State Park, Blairsville. Celebrate autumn’s arrival with a cakewalk, hayrides, chili and drinks, a campfire with dancing and professional storytelling around a bonfire. Hayrides are $3 per person. Parking is $5. Call 706-745-2628 for information.

JACKSON COUNTY Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival: Oct. 27-29, downtown Braselton. Friday 2-7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.5 p.m. For more information, eamil Donna Cannella of Countryside Antiques at or call 706-824-7204.


Fall 2017

EVENTS ATHENS/CLARKE COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-549-6800; Convention & Visitors Center: 706-357-4430 or 800-653-0603)

Morning Mindfulness: Sept. 22, 9:3010:30 a.m., Georgia Museum of Art, Athens. Free guided mindfulness meditation is offered. Reservations are encouraged. Please call 706-542-0448 or send an email to 25th Annual Insect-ival: Sept. 23, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens. Enjoy discovery stations, roach and beetle races, an insect cafe, puppet shows and more during this fun family festival. Tour at Two - “Modern Masters from the Giuliano Ceseri Collection”: Sept. 27, 2-3 p.m., Georgia Museum of Art, Athens. Tours meet in the lobby and are free and open to the public. Please contact 706-542-4662 for more information. Family Day - Ceseri Drawings: Sept. 30, 10 a.m.-noon, Georgia Museum of Art, Athens. Call 706-542-4662 to learn more. The SteelDrivers: Oct. 7, the 440 Foundry Pavilion, The Classic Center, Athens. To purchase tickets, please visit, call 706-357-4444 or stop by The Classic Center Theatre box office in downtown Athens. AthHalf Health & Fitness

AthHalf Health & Fitness Expo, Half Marathon & 5K: Oct. 21-22, The Classic Center in Athens and downtown Athens. The AthHalf Expo will be held on Oct. 21 from noon to 6 p.m. The AthHalf race will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 22 near City Hall and conclude with a victory lap through Sanford Stadium. Monster Mash Wild Rumpus Kids’ Halloween Party & Wild Rumpus Halloween Parade: Oct. 27, 8:30 p.m., The Foundry in Athens and downtown Athens. The kids’ party will take place at The Foundry, and the Wild Rumpus Halloween Parade will begin in downtown Athens at 8:30 p.m. Clarke County Schools are closed on Oct. 28, so bring your kids to the Wild Rumpus Monster Mash! There will be a haunted house, live music, a trapeze performance, face painting and mask making! “Kinky Boots”: Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m., The Classic Center Theatre, Athens. “Kinky Boots” is the winner of every major best musical award, including the Tony, the Grammy and London’s Olivier Award. The musical features 16 original songs by pop icon Cyndi Lauper. Ccall 706-357-4444.

BANKS COUNTY (Convention & Visitors Bureau: 706-677-5265; Chamber of Commerce: 706- 677-2108 or 877-389-2896)

Tanger Outlets 9th Annual Fit for a Cure: Oct. 14, 8:30-10 a.m., Tanger Outlet Center, Commerce. This event, sponsored by Under Armour, promotes and encourages healthy, happy living while fighting breast cancer. Proceeds benefit Northridge Medical Center’s “Monies for Mammos” breast imaging fund. CONTINUED ON PAGE 32

30 Northeast Georgia Living

FALL 2017 EVENTS Spooktacular Sprint: Oct. 14, 7 p.m., Windmill Sports Complex, Homer. The 1-Mile Fun Run for children ages 12 and under will begin at 7 p.m. The 5K will start at 7:30 p.m. Keep Banks County Beautiful Festival: Oct. 26, 4-7 p.m., Veterans Park, Homer. This event is sponsored by Keep Banks County Beautiful.

BARROW COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 770-867-9444; Auburn: 770-963-4002; Bethlehem: 770-8670702; Carl: 770-867-1308; Statham: 770-7255455; Winder: 770-867-3106)

Spooktacular Festival: Oct. 27, Jug Tavern Park, Winder. Please call 770-8679444 to learn more. Veterans Day Ceremony: Nov. 11, Jug Tavern Park, Winder. Please call 770-8679444 to learn more.

DAWSON COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce & CVB: 706-2656278 or 877-302-9271)

50th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival: Oct. 27-29, downtown Dawsonville. This event will include a moonshine run, a parade of authentic moonshine and revenue cars, vintage race cars, a car show, arts & crafts, great food, souvenirs, a swap meet and live entertainment. Find details for each day by visiting or calling 706-216-5273. Veterans Day Parade: Nov. 11, downtown Dawsonville. Honor veterans and active military in Dawson County and around the country. Please call 706-2656278 to learn more.

ELBERT COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-283-5651; Main Street: 706-213-0626; Bowman City Hall: 706245-5432)

Trick-or-Treat: Oct. 31, 6-8:30 p.m., Elbert Theatre, Elberton. Join the community for family-friendly trick-or-treating. Salute to Our Troops: Nov. 3-4, Rock Gym, 45 S. Forest Ave., Elberton. This CONTINUED ON PAGE 34 32 Northeast Georgia Living

event is sponsored by Savannah River Productions. For more information, please call 706-376-7397 or visit 18th Annual Granite City Fall Festival: Nov. 4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., town square, downtown Elberton. To learn more, visit “Eb Scrooge: A Southern Fried Carol”: Nov. 10-12 & 17-19, Elbert Theatre, Elberton. Friday and Saturday shows at 7 p.m., and Sunday shows at 2 p.m.

FORSYTH COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 770-887-6461)

Farmers Market: Every Wednesday & Saturday in September, Cumming Fairgrounds, Cumming. Please visit Color Vibe 5K: Sept. 30, 9 a.m., Lanier College, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd., Cumming. Get your friends and family to join you for the amazing color run, where you’ll get blasted with color while you run or walk. Register ASAP at Cumming Country Fair & Festival: Oct. 5-15, Cumming Fairgrounds, 235 Castleberry Road, Cumming. Please call 770-781-3491 or visit www.cumming to learn more. Trunk-or-Treat: Oct. 21, Cumming Fairgrounds, Cumming.

Fast Pace Race: Oct. 28-29, Cumming Fairgrounds, Cumming. The event will include a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon. Visit or call 404-9643251 for times and registration. Cue ‘N’ Cumming: Nov. 17-18, Cumming Fairgrounds, Cumming. Participate in this exciting national barbecue event. Call 770-886-6290 or visit for details. Annual Buck Jones Toy Run: Nov. 19, Cumming Fairgrounds, Cumming. Prepare for the giving spirit of the holidays by joining the community for this important toy run. Please call 770-7529160 for more information.

FRANKLIN COUNTY (Franklin County Chamber of Commerce: 706-384-4659; Royston DDA: 706-245-7577; Lavonia DDA: 706-356-1923)

Fall Fashion Show & Expo: Sept. 28, 5:30-8 p.m., Lavonia Cultural Center, Lavonia. Please call 706-384-4659 to learn more. Lavonia Fall Festival: Sept. 30, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., downtown Lavonia. Please call 706384-4659 to learn more. National Night Out Against Crime: Oct. 5, 5-8 p.m., the gazebo in downtown Lavonia. Please call 706-384-4659 to learn more. City of Canon Fall Festival: Oct. 7, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Depot Street, Canon. Enjoy bands, bingo, cakewalks, a car show, Take the scenic route and many vendors and great food! check out some of our Top 10 Royston Fall Festival: Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., downtown Royston. Call 706-2457577 for more information. Harvest Happenings: Oct. 28, 7 p.m., PAGE 45 Tugaloo State Park, Lavonia. Halloween Carnival: Oct. 31, 4-6 p.m., the gazebo in downtown Lavonia. Call 706-3844659 to learn more. Halloween in Royston: Oct. 31, 4-5:30 p.m., Royston. This is a citywide celebration. Please call 706-2457577 for more information. Princess Night Out Party: Nov. 4, 6 p.m., Lavonia Cultural Center, Lavonia. te Park overlook Black Rock Mountain Sta Call 706-384-4659.


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Small Business Saturday: Nov. 25, downtown Lavonia. Enjoy bargains and discounts on Christmas gifts for others as you support all your favorite local stores. Please call 706-384-4659 to learn more. Christmas Tree Lighting: Nov. 25, 6 p.m., the gazebo in downtown Lavonia. Please call 706-384-4659 to learn more. Canon Christmas Tree Lighting: Nov. 26, dusk, Canon. Canon Christmas Parade: Dec. 2, Canon.

HABERSHAM COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-778-4654; Better Hometown- Cornelia: 706-778-7875; Clarkesville City Hall: 706-754-2220; Cornelia City Hall: 706-778-8585; Demorest City Hall: 706-778-4202)

8th Annual Taste of Clarkesville: Sept. 30, noon-3 p.m., Clarkesville. Enjoy local dishes and drinks from the best of the best in Clarkesville! Please visit for more details.

HART COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-376-8590 or; DDA: 706-376-0188)

Annual Scarecrow Bash: Oct. 1-31, Hartwell. The Hartwell Downtown Development Authority presents the annual Scarecrow Bash. Information and registration packets are available at the DDA office at 111 W. Franklin St., at Bailes Cobb, at Shoppe on the Square, or online at Depot Day: Oct. 21, downtown Hartwell. Please visit to learn more. Sculpture Exhibit at the Art Center: Oct. 26-Nov. 18, 338 E. Howell St., Hartwell. The drop-off date is Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An artist reception will be held on Oct. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. Pickup of work will be on Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call 706377-2040 or visit www.hartregional Mayor’s Monster Mash: Oct. 31, 4-6

Photo courtesy Ga. Dept. of Natural Resources


p.m., Depot St., Hartwell. Come trickor-treat with the mayor and your friends and neighbors as community organizations hand out treats. This is a free event. Please contact them by phone at 706-376-0188 or visit them online at to learn more. Salute to Our Troops: Nov. 10-11, Hart County High School, Hartwell. This event is sponsored by Savannah River Productions. For more information, please call 706-376-7397 or visit “Home for the Holidays” Tree Lighting: Nov. 21, 5-7 p.m., town square, downtown Hartwell. See page 10 for details. Mistletoe Market: Nov. 30-Dec. 16, the Art Center, 338 E. Howell St., Hartwell. Decorate dates are Nov. 21 & 22. Dropoff dates are Nov. 25, 26 & 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vendor pickup will be on Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 706-377-2040 or visit

JACKSON COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-387-0300; Commerce DDA: 706-335-2954; Jefferson Better Hometown: 706-215-3345; Jefferson City Hall: 706-367-7202; Braselton City Hall: 706-654-3915)

Jefferson Farmers Market: Opens at 8 a.m. on Saturdays in September, town square, downtown Jefferson. Visit Hoschton Fall Festival & BBQ CookOff: Sept. 22-24, Hoschton. The 2017 Atlanta Concours d’Elegance: Sept. 30 & Oct. 1, Chateau Elan Winery & Resort, Braselton. Experience some of the most beautiful classic and collector automobiles ever designed. Stroll the classic car-lined fairways of Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, a 3,500-acre French country-style estate. Meet the owners and collectors of fine automobiles and enjoy a glass of wine from the estate’s award-winning vineyards. For tickets and additional information, please visit CONTINUED ON PAGE 36 Fall 2017 35

FALL 2017 EVENTS 20th Anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans: Oct. 4-7, Road Atlanta, Braselton. This sports car endurance race is held annually at Road Atlanta. The race follows the rules established by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For details and tickets, Visit www.road Zombie Run 5K: Oct. 21, town green, downtown Braselton. Jefferson Holiday Market: Nov. 3-5, 65 Kissam St., Jefferson. See page 10 for details. YearOne Braselton Bash and Christmas in Braselton Car Show: Nov. 18, 1-5 p.m., YearOne, 1001 Cherry Drive, Suite 1, Braselton. For more information, please visit braselton-bash. Holiday Festival, Parade and Lighting of the Tree: Nov. 18, town green, downtown Braselton. This year’s parade theme is Christmas Around the World. The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. For more details and a parade application, please visit Braselton’s Decorated Tree Competition: Dec. 1-16, Braselton. Businesses display decorated trees and compete for votes during this townwide event.

LUMPKIN COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-864-3711 or 800-231-5543; Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Visitors Center: 706-864-3513)

Dahlonega Gold Rush Days Festival: Oct. 21-22, Dahlonega. Experience the fall colors while enjoying multiple vendors, crafts and food in downtown Dahlonega. Please visit dahlonega to learn more about this annual festival. Trick-or-Treat Dahlonega: Oct. 31, 5:307:30 p.m., downtown Dahlonega. Trickor-Treat Dahlonega is intended for children ages 12 and under, so appropriate costumes are appreciated! There will be a costume contest at the Dahlonega Gold Museum at 6 p.m. Contest registration will be from 5:15-5:45 p.m. For more information, please call 706-864-3711. HemlockFest: Nov. 3-5, Dahlonega. Listen to talented musical artists as you support the growth and preservation of 36 Northeast Georgia Living

eastern hemlocks in Northeast Georgia. Please visit for more information. Dahlonega’s Old-Fashioned Christmas: Nov. 24-Dec. 23, Dahlonega. This month-long celebration is set in motion with the Lighting of the Square. A parade officially bringing Santa to town occurs the first Saturday in December. For more information, please contact the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Visitors Center at 706-864-3711.

MADISON COUNTY (Danielsville Chamber of Commerce: 706-795-3473)

Fall Festival: Oct. 21, downtown Danielsville. Celebrate autumn with friends and family, arts & crafts, and food! Please visit www.madisoncounty to learn more.

OCONEE COUNTY (Oconee County Chamber of Commerce: 706-769-7947; Welcome Center: 706-769-5197)

43rd Annual Oconee Chamber Fall Festival: Oct. 21, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., historic downtown Watkinsville. Enjoy over 200 arts & crafts vendors. For more information, please call 706-769-7947 or send an email to Scarecrow 5K Road Race: Oct. 21, 7 a.m., Watkinsville. This is Oconee County’s longest-running 5K road race. Please visit to learn more and to register.

RABUN COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-782-4812; Civic Center: 706-212-2142)

Full-Moon Suspension Bridge Hike: Oct. 5, 7:30-9 p.m., Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls. See page 10 for details. Foxfire Mountaineer Festival: Oct. 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Rabun County Civic Center, 201 W. Savannah St., Clayton. This oneday event celebrates the rich heritage of the Southern Appalachian Mountains CONTINUED ON PAGE 38 Fall 2017 37

FALL 2017 EVENTS and people. Vvisit foxfireorg for more information. Sky Valley Fallfest: Oct. 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sky Valley Park & Pavilion, Sky Valley. A variety of arts & craft vendors will have things for sale. Visit to learn more. Trunk-or-Treat for Halloween: Oct. 31, 5:30-7 p.m., Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls. Park visitors can decorate their cars and hand out treats to children as they walk from car to car. Activities will be provided for children while cars are being decorated. Prizes will be awarded for cars and costumes. Please show up on time so that no cars are driving in the parking lot while children are trick-or-treating. Parking is $5. For more information, please call 706-754-7981. Christmas in Downtown Clayton: Nov. 24, 5-8 p.m., downtown Clayton. See Santa and enjoy shopping, refreshments, a bagpiper and caroling! Attend the Christmas Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. at Rock House Park on Main Street. Please call 706-782-1520 to learn more. Holiday Arts & Crafts Extravaganza and Festival of Trees: Nov. 24-25, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Rabun County Civic Center, Savannah Street, Clayton. Please visit

STEPHENS COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-886-2132)

“Cherry Cherry” Neil Diamond Tribute Band: Sept. 23, Ritz Theatre, Toccoa. Currahee Military Weekend: Oct. 6-8, Toccoa. Visit Southern Gospel Music Presents “Red Back Hymnal Sing and the Saxon Family”: Oct. 14, Ritz Theatre, Toccoa. Please visit for more information. Traveler’s Rest Pioneer Days: Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Traveler’s Rest Historic Site, Toccoa. See page 10 for details. “Farewell Angelina”: Oct. 20, Ritz Theatre, Toccoa. Please visit www.ritz for more information. Toccoa Harvest Festival: Oct. 28-29, downtown Toccoa. Enjoy family-friendly crafts, events and vendors. Toccoa Costume Parade: Oct. 31, downtown Toccoa. Celebrate 38 Northeast Georgia Living

Halloween with friends and family in this safe environment! “Randel Bramblett”: Nov. 2, Ritz Theatre, Toccoa. Please visit for more information. Toccoa ChristmasFest: Dec. 1, Toccoa. Start off the holiday season right in downtown Toccoa.

TOWNS COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 706-896-4966; Towns County Tourism: 706-896-0589)

Dailey & Vincent LandFest: Sept. 15, 2:30-11 p.m., Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hiawassee. Please visit for more information. Business Showcase: Sept. 28, 4-7 p.m., Towns County Chamber of Commerce, Young Harris. The 3rd Annual Business Showcase, sponsored by the Towns County Chamber of Commerce, will feature over 125 local businesses. Business owners from around the county and the surrounding area will all be under one roof! There will be giveaways, drawings, food, fun and the chance to learn more about our area. 2nd Annual Appalachian Brew, Que & Stew Festival: Oct. 28, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hiawassee. Mark your calendar and plan to attend the 2nd Annual Beer Festival in Hiawassee. There will be a TV for watching that special football game and free tastings from Georgia and North Carolina breweries. Mountain Country Christmas in Lights: Nov. 23-25, 6-9 p.m., Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hiawassee. This holiday treat for the entire family, is held along the shores of beautiful Lake Chatuge in the Northeast Georgia mountains. The fairground will be transformed into a spectacular and magical holiday light show with special Christmas music provided by local churches, arts & crafts vendors, holiday food, opportunities to visit and take pictures with Santa, and of course, hot chocolate and s’mores. Please visit www.georgia Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa Holiday Arts & Crafts Show: Nov. 2425, 10 a.m.-5 p.m, and Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-3. p.m., Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, Young Harris. Beautifully decorated for the holidays, the Brasstown

Valley Resort & Spa will feature outstanding juried artists from throughout the Southeast. Parking and admission are free. Please call 706-897-6179 or visit www.robinroberts for information.

UNION COUNTY (Chamber of Commerce: 877-745-4789 or 706-745-5789)

Moonshine Market Arts & Crafts Show: Sept. 16, 10 a.m.-5p.m., and Sept. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Granddaddy Mimm’s Distillery, Blairsville. For a great day of shopping and fun, come to the Moonshine Market Arts & Crafts show and enjoy juried arts & crafts from throughout the Southeast, great music, sumptuous food, beer and moonshine making! The show will be held at Granddaddy Mimm’s Distillery, which is located at 161 Pappys Plaza (off Highway 129) in Blairsville. Please contact 706-897-6179 for additional information. Indian Summer Festival: Oct. 7-8, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Woody Gap School, Suches. Enjoy local arts & crafts, antiques, pottery, leather, local produce, folk art, homemade goodies and good food. Following the activities, visit the Suches Community Center for a Square Dance at 8 p.m. Please visit www.indian to learn more. The Run Above the Clouds: Oct. 7, 9 a.m., Suches. Run or walk this 10K Road Race. The race begins at 2331 Highway 60 in Suches. Please call 706-747-2401 to learn more. Blairsville Sorghum Festival: Oct. 14-15 & 21-22, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Meeks Park, Blairsville. See page 10 for details. Sorghum Parade: Oct. 14, 11 a.m., downtown Blairsville. Hundreds of people line the streets to see the floats, bands and other crowd-pleasers. Please call 706-745-4745 or visit www.blairsville to learn more. Tour of Trees: Dec. 1-31, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Union County Community Center, Blairsville. Over 30 beautifully decorated trees and wreaths will be on display throughout the Community Center. There is no charge for admission. CONTINUED ON PAGE 40

FALL 2017 EVENTS WHITE COUNTY (Convention & Visitor’s Bureau: 706-8785608; Helen Welcome Center & Chamber of Commerce: 706-878-1619; White County Chamber of Commerce: 706-865-5356)

Helen’s Alpine Village Arts & Crafts Show: Sept. 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sept. 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Elana Falls Park, downtown Helen. Come join us for a weekend of fun and good times and the opportunity to shop for great handmade items by juried artisans from throughout the Southeast. The Country River Band will be on hand for your listening pleasure. Please contact 706-897-6179 for additional information. 47th Annual Oktoberfest: Sept. 28-Oct. 29, Helen. Enjoy traditional German music, dancing and beer every day from Sept. 28 through Oct. 29 at the Festhalle in Helen. Agri-Fest Country Market and the 7th Annual “Pottery Comes to Town” Show & Sale: Sept. 30, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Freedom Park, Cleveland. Celebrate the fall and all things agricultural. Come see farm animals, pottery from local potters and other arts and crafts. Learn more at Annual Lighting of the Village: Nov. 24, 6-8 p.m., downtown Helen. On Friday, Nov. 24, Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by horse-drawn carriage at the downtown band shell as the village is lighted to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Visit Christmas in the Mountains Lighted Parade & Celebration: Dec. 1, 5-8 p.m., downtown Cleveland. Visit www.white to learn more. ◆ TO LIST EVENTS IN future issues, send an email to or mail hard copies to P.O. Box 270, Franklin Springs, GA 30639. Deadline for the Holiday/Winter 2017-2018 issue is Oct. 5, 2017. Please include events covering the period from Dec. 1, 2017, through March 20, 2018. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our listing of scheduled events. For additional information and for confirmation, please call either local sponsors or chamber of commerce offices. 40 Northeast Georgia Living


Universal Expression


uthor Lori Deschene writes that music clears the head, heals the heart and lifts the spirits. But beyond that, being able to play an instrument gives the musician another voice, an outlet for expression that is universal. Many of us grew up learning to play a musical instrument only to have music drift away from us as we entered adulthood. Paul and Sue Bergstrom of Blairsville, together with their daughter Angie, have made it their mission to help people of all ages get back in touch with their musical side, or even to discover it for the first time. The Bergstroms and the rest of their production team at Mountain Melodies, located at the base of Cook’s Mountain, have perfected the art of producing thumbdrums, also known as kalimbas or thumb pianos, which are a miniature handcrafted work of art that anyone and everyone 42 Northeast Georgia Living

tively, electric models are available, and a gourd amplifier may be added. Gourd amplifiers produce surprisingly excellent sound quality, and they have multiple uses. A phone, tablet or iPod may be hooked up to one to amplify a playlist when it is not being used with a thumb piano. Every thumb piano comes with an accompanying songbook containing 28 songs, and within minutes of picking up a thumb piano for the first time, even those who considers themselves to be completely nonmusical can be playing recognizable tunes such as “You Are My Sunshine.” The instruments produce an appealing marimba-like sound, which is

pleasing whether the musician is playing a known tune or simply improvising. Aside from providing entertainment and an outlet for musical expression, thumb pianos serve as an aid in practicing yoga and meditation, and they have proved to be valuable tools in the field of music therapy. It is interesting to note that the people behind this business, which promotes “music made simple for all ages,” did not have a background in music whatsoever prior to embarking on a new adventure as owners of Mountain Melodies. Paul’s background is in business; in fact, it was a business opportunity that originally led him to the north Georgia mountains. Prior to owning Mountain Melodies, Sue had enjoyed music mainly on her radio. Paul has always enjoyed woodworking and working with his hands, and Sue (an artist) enjoys being creative in a variety of ways. Thus, when they discovered the small kalimba company, it “clicked” for them both right away. The business originally began in the late 1960s. Paul and Sue purchased Mountain Melodies nine years ago and moved the operation from Arkansas to Georgia. Under their direction, the thumb piano venture has grown immensely and is now thriving. Paul and Sue have worked to streamline production, expand the customer base, build a retail and an online Sue and Paul Bergstrom have made it their mission to help people of all ages get back in touch with their musical side with Mountain Melodie’s thumb pianos.

Bergstroms; special photo

(adults and children alike) can learn to make music on. Thumb pianos originated in Africa, and they are played by plucking the tines, or keys, with the fingers. The Bergstroms create thumb pianos out of gourds and a variety of different types of wood. (Cedar is their top seller.) Each instrument is as uniquely beautiful as it is functional. Thumb pianos may be enjoyed acoustically. Alterna-

presence, and innovate in instrument design (including incorporating the use of gourds). It was Paul who hit on the idea of electrifying the thumb pianos and adding the gourd amplifiers. The Bergstroms and their team are currently producing 16,000 handcrafted instruments per year, and their facility is being further expanded and upgraded in anticipation of continued growth. What is most evident in speaking with Paul and Sue is how much fun they are having together. From traveling the country to attend various craft fairs and connecting with fellow artists and craftspeople to receiving letters from customers around the world describing how the instrument has changed their lives by giving them the gift of music, there is much to enjoy. Mountain Melodies partners with various organizations to send thumb pianos to children in developing countries, and the Bergstroms find this extremely rewarding too. Also apparent is the love that the couple has for the Northeast Georgia region. Paul is enamored of the weather, while Sue is captivated by the simplicity of mountain life. When invited by a friend to move to the area many years ago, Paul didn’t hesitate to respond, “Bring me to it!” Now, working from his mountain home, Paul and his family are bringing the joy of music to tens of thousands of people around the globe. ◆

Fall 2017 43

44 Northeast Georgia Living



View from Black Rock Mountain State Park Fall 2017 45


Richard Russell Scenic Highway

This scenic byway, designated State Route 348, climbs up the southern slope and across the spine of the Blue Ridge Range – crossing the Appalachian Trail at Hog Pen Gap and Tesnatee Gap – then continues back down the northern slope into the Nottely River Valley. Scenic overlooks on both sides of the mountain range are a great place to pull over and experience the peaceful silence of fall’s color extending forever. 46 Northeast Georgia Living


NOTHING EXCITES ME MORE when I’m traveling than a road sign announcing “Scenic Overlook Ahead.” I’ve pulled


into every overlook when traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway and have been known to follow signs down dusty Arizona backroads in the middle of flat desert country wondering what could possibly be “overlooked.” I’m surprised and awed each time as I approach a hidden canyon vista or an escarpment that opens onto a multihued landscape that stretches for a hundred miles. Scenic overlooks in Northeast Georgia

Sky Valley courtesy City of Sky Valley

Black Rock Mountain courtesy Ga. Dept. of Natural Resources;

paint intimate, colorful scenes of the

Visitor’s Center Overlook

Black Rock Mountain State Park

It’s no surprise that Georgia’s highest state park also has one of the best overlooks of rugged Appalachian Mountains. Many of all Georgia state parks. After paying your these vistas can be viewed from the comparking fee (Did you know one pass can fort of your car. Some require short walks be used at multiple parks on the same day?), stop at the visitor center and step along paved paths, while others take a bit onto a grand scenic overlook with picnic of a hike through the forests and mountables and a sunny lawn and an 80-mile tain air to reach the payoff. Our top 10 vista of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the town of Clayton places for scenic overfilling the mountain looks includes all three crease below. Along the entrance road, and is only the start for both the Cowee getting you on your way Overlook and the to exploring the postBlue Ridge Overlook offer vignettes of the card beauty that is Appalachians’ Northeast Georgia. Cowee Overlook natural artistry.

Sky Valley Overlook

Watch for it, because this stop on State Route 246 in Sky Valley comes up fast. After a steady climb along the wide highway from Dillard, and around a few good mountain turns, the overlook provides a long view with mountains rising in the distance across the Little Tennessee River Valley, where farming has long been practiced. Fall 2017 47

Chestatee Overlook

Popcorn Overlook

Get ready to let the windows down as you pull into this easily accessible overlook on the Southern Highroads Trail, a loop of highways for exploring the Appalachians through four states. Located about 15 miles west of Clayton on U.S. 76, Popcorn Overlook is a truly great look-out-the-window view any time of year, but get out and enjoy the breeze by the split rail fence, along with the interpretive signs about the recent history and the ancient geology unique to this exact spot.

48 Northeast Georgia Living

Stop the car and take in the panorama of Dockery Lake Recreation Area and the Blood Mountain Wilderness from Chestatee Overlook. Named for the Chestatee River watershed below, this scenic view is near Dockery Gap along State Route 60 between Dahlonega and Suches. In the distance, at left in the photo, Blood Mountain rises to 4,458 feet above sea level within its namesake wilderness.

Popcorn Overlook by William D. Powell; Chestatee courtesy USDA Forestry Service


Ta l l u l a h G o rge co u r te sy G a . D e p t . o f N at u ra l R e s o u rce s ; B e l l M o u n t a i n by M e l i s s a H er n d o n

Tallulah Gorge State Park

For more adventurous lookers, Tallulah Gorge State Park has well-maintained trails to take you to the edge and beyond for splendid views of the gorge and the waterfalls below. Enter the park’s North Rim at the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center entrance (a parking fee is required) and enjoy the exhibit after picking up a trail map. The closest overlooks – including a new one just behind the Center – are less than 100 yards away. Overlook 2 is a favorite, with a close-up look at the sheer gorge walls and L’Eau d’Or Falls below. Hikers can traverse the 310 steps into the gorge to the suspension bridge to experience the full impact of the Tallulah River and the falls. The North Rim Trail crosses the river at the Tallulah Lake dam and continues to more spectacular overlooks along the South Rim.

Tallulah Point Overlook

“Come on in!” This nostalgic roadside attraction on Historic U.S. 441 in Tallulah Falls offers cold drinks and snacks, a plethora of souvenirs and local art, and “the best view of Tallulah Gorge – free” from the second-floor porch. Take in the view while reading posters about Karl Wallenda and his famous skywalk across the gorge in 1970.

Bell Mountain County Park

Take a deep breath, go slowly and get ready for a white-knuckle drive up Shake Rag Road from downtown Hiawassee. To reach one of Northeast Georgia’s newest overlooks, follow this narrow paved lane as it climbs steeply through 180-degree turns. (Be on the lookout for oncoming cars and the wider spots in the road for give-and-take passing.) When you reach the first parking area, read the signs carefully. You can walk – or drive at your own risk – the final 300 feet of pavement to the top. This breathtaking view of Lake Chatuge and the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina will make you forget the white knuckles. Enjoy the “rock art” while taking the steps all the way to the top platform for a spectacular 360-degree view. An 1883 article in the Athens, Ga., Banner-Watchman stated that visitors had proclaimed it “the grandest view in America.”

Brasstown Bald

A view from Brasstown Bald includes Yonah Mountain at distant left.

Brasstown Bald’s environs are resplendent with the colors of fall which crown the mountain’s golden peak. At 4,784 feet above sea level, Georgia’s highest mountain has the granddaddy of scenic overlooks in Northeast Georgia. The views start in the large parking area (parking fee required) and continue to the top, reached by a half-mile paved footpath or, for a small fee, a minibus. The 360-degree view of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina is incomparable, day or night. Recently, on a clear and starry night, I headed up the mountain at midnight and joined hundreds of others for the Perseid meteor shower. Spontaneous applause followed the especially spectacular meteors. Fall 2017 49

Yonah Mountain

For the truly adventurous, this 4.4-mile round trip starts at a large marked parking area off Chambers Road in White County and continues to Yonah Mountain’s summit – elevation 3,166 feet above sea level – along a trail and a gravel roadbed. You’ll pass through boulder-filled forests and open meadows scattered with blossoming wildflowers in the springtime and gorgeous color in the fall. The 360-degree view from the summit of this isolated mountain is worth the effort. Be ready for crowds on peak days. Note: The U.S. Army leads active training sessions on Yonah Mountain. Call 706864-3367 to check the training schedule and avoid hiking on training days. ◆ Yonah Mountain, seen in the distance from an unknown ridge, rises with it’s granite cap to over 1,600 feet above the mountain’s base. 50 Northeast Georgia Living

The Road Less Traveled Back roads reveal some spectacular but unknown overlooks, like this one of Persimmon Valley in Rabun County. Photo by M.J. Sullivan

Ta l l u l a h G o rge co u r te sy G a . D e p t . o f N at u ra l R e s o u rce s


Fall 2017 51


THE SCENT OF SPICED apples graces the fall memories of many of us. Nothing warms up the heart and body quite like your favorite apple recipes, from cider at fall festivals to your grandmother’s oven-fresh apple pie. We hope these delicious and fragrant apple recipes bring a smile to your face as many happy fall memories come rushing back to you. Enjoy this versatile and nutritious fruit in its many forms this fall season with these simple and traditional recipes.

EASY CROCK POT APPLE BUTTER 5-6 pounds Granny Smith or Rome Beauty apples, peeled and finely chopped 4 cups sugar 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon salt Place the prepared apples in a large crock pot. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the spice mixture over the apples. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. After an hour, reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 9-11 hours or until the mixture is thickened and dark brown. Stir occasionally to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to the sides and burn. Once finished cooking, blend until smooth. Spoon into a freezer-safe jar, leaving half an inch of space at the top. Enjoy immediately, and freeze the rest, if necessary.

PUFFIN INN APPLE BREAD 3 cups flour 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 3 eggs 2 cups sugar 1 cup oil (or 1/2 cup oil plus 1/2 cup applesauce) 1 tablespoon vanilla 2-3 cups Granny Smith or Jonathan apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 1 teaspoon flour Cinnamon and sugar, if desired 52 Northeast Georgia Living


Heat the oven to 350 F. Mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder together. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Combine the dry and liquid ingredients. Stir in the apples. Mix the walnuts with a teaspoon of flour and add to the batter. The batter will be very thick and hard to stir. Pour the batter into 2 greased loaf pans. Top with cinnamon and sugar, if desired. Bake at 350 F for 50-60 minutes. This recipe can also be used for muffins. Muffins will not take as long to bake, so adjust the baking time accordingly. Recipe from Puffin Inn, Ogunquit, Maine.

1 1/2-2 pounds Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, pared, cored and thinly sliced 2 eggs 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon light brown sugar or white sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon lemon juice A pinch of salt 3/4 to 1 cup all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon low-fat milk or low-fat evaporated milk 1 tablespoon brown sugar for topping, if desired Cinnamon and sugar mixture for topping, if desired Powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Place the prepared apples in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt and beat until thick and creamy. Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the mixture and beat until well-combined. Add 2/3 of the apples to the batter and mix with a spoon until the apples are coated with batter. Place the batter in a greased pan (we used a 9-inch round baking dish). Arrange the remaining apple slices in an attractive pattern on top of the batter. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar or with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, as desired. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with coffee for a light afternoon snack or dessert.

Fall 2017


PERFECT APPLE PIE 6-8 fresh tart apples (Granny Smith), pared, cored and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)* 1 tablespoon lemon juice (if needed) 1 cup white sugar 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon A dash of ground nutmeg Two 9-inch pie crusts 2 tablespoons butter, cut up into small pieces Vanilla ice cream (if desired) Heat the oven to 400 F. Place the prepared apples in a mixing bowl. (If the apples lack tartness, you can add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.) In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the spice mixture on the apples and mix together until all the apples are covered. Fill one pie shell with the apple mixture until almost overflowing. Dot the apple mixture with the pieces of butter. Place the second pie crust on top of the first pie crust so that it makes an enclosed pie. Pinch the edges together to hold the juices in. Cut slits on the top pie crust to allow steam to escape. Bake at 400 F for 50 minutes or until done. If the crust begins to brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil and continue baking. Allow the pie to cool long enough to let the juices thicken before serving. Best served slightly warm with vanilla ice cream. *If fresh apples are not available, you can use two 1-pound, 4-ounce cans of pre-sliced apples, strained. â—†

54 Northeast Georgia Living


WHERE THE BUFFALO (AND BISON) ROAM Bison at Diamond K Farms; at right, April and Mark Knott

Water buffalo at Carrell Farms

Water buffalo by Brian Cooke; bison and Knotts by Melissa Herndon


t’s okay to be different” is the motto repeated at Carrell Farms. Spread over hundreds of acres of rolling Piedmont, Carrell Farms is a picturesque Northeast Georgia farm. The difference, however, lies with the hulking water buffalo grazing the hills. Water buffalo in Georgia piques the public’s interest, explains David Carrell. “We’ll have people ask, why water buffalo? And our answer is, well, why not?” Domesticated over 5,000 years ago, Asiatic water buffalo are considered “true buffaloes” and loosely resemble cattle. Water buffalo can be identified by their horns, which, depending on the subspecies, grow in slightly different formations. The subspecies can also vary in their behavior. The river buffalo, for instance, may submerge itself almost fully into water to lower its body temperature, while the swamp buffalo may cool down by coating itself in mud at a wallow.

The familiar American bison, oftentimes called a buffalo, has a much different look. Bison have an iconic silhouette, with a massive head and forequarters, short horns and a shaggy brown coat. In the wild, bison are native to more temperate regions of Europe and North America, while “true buffaloes” are native to the wilds of Africa and Asia. Although different, the two species are in the same family, Bovidae. The Carrells first acquired three female and one male Asiatic water buffalo in 2000 as an experiment to see if they could add to the income already being generated by their alpaca and sheep products. Since then, the Carrells have developed a niche by operating outside of the traditional agricultural commodity system, which favors farms with cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and chickens. Unlike bison, maintaining a water buffalo herd requires little to no special equipment, and the animals are easier to handle. Despite the low overhead costs, Fall 2017 57

nd K Farms

A newborn bison at Diamo

58 Northeast Georgia Living

Carrell notes, “There aren’t many buffalo folks in the area.” Water buffalo meat sales are doing well as a result of the demand for healthy, sustainable and locally sourced foods. Compared to other red meats, a grass-fed water buffalo’s meat is high in protein but low in calories, cholesterol and saturated fat. Shalley Carrell has noticed more clientele with restricted diets who prefer to incorporate a healthier meat. The upward trend in Paleo diets has similarly benefited the business. Even the tallow, the fat of the buffalo, can be

put to use as vitamin-rich lotion. Meeting the growing demand means working seven days a week. Carrell Farms water buffalo meat is served in restaurants from Atlanta to Columbia, S.C. The meat can be purchased by the cut through several online farmers markets in Athens, Buford, Cumming and Suwanee. Carrell Farms even has a following among the growing Asian communities of Atlanta, which traditionally eat water buffalo for special events. But water buffalo is not the only animal finding a new home on the range in Northeast Georgia. The demand for alternative, healthier meats is bringing the

Carrells by Brian Cooke; baby bison by April Knott

Shalley and David Carrell at Carrell Farms

American bison back to the region. The American bison, our national mammal, was once common across Georgia. North America’s wild bison population was estimated to have ranged between 30 and 60 million individuals prior to the 1600s. By the 1800s, their population hovered around 1,000. Fortunately, conservation efforts brought the species back from the brink of extinction. Today, most American bison in North America are raised as livestock. A 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture census identified over 2,500 bison farms with herds totaling more than 160,000 individuals.


n the border of Madison and Elbert Counties, Mark Knott, his wife, April, and their children manage a herd of bison on the Knott’s 600-acre Diamond K Farms. Together, the family can better handle the unwieldy animals, which are not domesticated like traditional cattle. “Weekends are farming time,” explains Knott, who has a career as a grading contractor. The property has about 300 acres of fields with plenty of grass, which is essential for the bison diet. The bison were purchased as a hobby farm and have become an integral part of Knott’s life. Male bison, the larger of the sexes, can reach 6 feet tall and weigh up to 2,200 pounds. Even more impressive is a bison’s top speed of 35 miles per hour. Both large and agile, bison “are like 2,000-pound white-tailed deer,” says Knott. Despite the difficulties that can be created by a bison’s temperament, Knott enjoys the work. Much like the Carrells, the Knotts are seeing growth as the public learns about alternative meats like bison. Knott sells between five and 10 bison per year. Oftentimes, customers purchase a quarter, a half or a whole bison, processed into various cuts. Grass-fed bison meat is revered for its tenderness. The meat is also high in protein, low in cholesterol, and according to the National Bison Association, has only onefifth of the fat content of conventional beef. For many, it’s still somewhat rare to see buffalo and bison roaming Northeast Georgia. With growing demand for healthier foods, the region may see more buffalo and bison farms in the future. For now, for farmers like the Knotts and the Carrells, it pays to be different. ◆ Fall 2017 59




60 Northeast Georgia Living

Special photo

A high-profile cycling event rolls back into Northeast Georgia this fall. The third annual Twin Rivers Challenge, a ride to benefit student scholarships at Tallulah Falls School (TFS), returns October 28, 2017. The Twin Rivers Challenge is an autumn ride through some of Northeast Georgia’s most spectacular scenery during peak leaf season. Three routes are offered: a 100K ride through the Tallulah River and Soque River watersheds, including the Lake Burton shoreline; a 72K intermediate ride along Seed Lake and Lake Rabun; and a 37K ride for novice cyclists that takes riders to Tiger and back to the school. Local cyclist Joey Brown of Clarkesville is a ride committee co-chair. He rides throughout the United States but appreciates the challenge and natural beauty of this region. “For me, the beauty of the area and variety of the terrain is really what draws me and keeps me riding here,” Brown says. “There’s really nothing in the Southeast that rivals what we have in this corner of the state. The scenery is unmatched, and the time of year is perfect, with cool temps in the morning. It’s really a great time to be on a bike.” Brown says the sport has grown tremendously in the area, with many professional athletes traveling here to train. This growth is illustrated by Piedmont College introducing a cycling team several years ago; team members were on the TFS campus for the 2016 ride and will return this fall. Piedmont College cycling team head coach Jame Carney also appreciates the challenge of the area’s roadways. “A couple of the main reasons I accepted the position of head cycling coach at Piedmont College are the climate and terrain available in Northeast Georgia,” Carney says. “It’s ideal for cycling all year. The Twin Rivers Challenge highlights some of our greatest features. It’s an excellent opportunity to see what we have to offer.” From a fundraising perspective, it was the goal of the initial event organizers on the TFS Board of Trustees to establish a unique event to generate additional student scholarship dollars. Day student enrollment at TFS has seen tremendous growth over the past decade, and 70 percent of students receive some

Fall 2017


financial aid. Since its founding in 1909, the school has remained true to its founding mission: to provide a quality educational option for motivated students from the region – and now from around the world. Students hail from 16 countries, 11 states and 18 Georgia counties. Enrollment for 2017-2018 is projected to exceed 500 students in grades five through 12. TFS Board of Trustees member Judy Forbes is co-chair with Brown. “The idea for the ride came from a need to generate scholarships for worthy students,” Forbes says. “This event provides a way for both experienced and novice bikers to ride and see our beautiful community at the most glorious time of the year. Our students are the winners!” Another element of the day is the hospitality extended to riders, with a postride meal served by TFS faculty, staff and student volunteers. The well-known Tallulah Falls Opry, a group of local bluegrass musicians, plays for the riders after they return to campus. “It is a highlight for our school community to welcome our guests on ride day,” says President and Head of School Larry A. Peevy. “Our students interact with riders, sponsors and other visitors throughout the day, making the connection to the true reason we all work so hard preparing our young people for a successful future.” The ride has attracted attention from cyclists from throughout the Southeast. Judy Taylor, director of the Habersham Chamber of Commerce, understands the value of providing recreation as a way to grow tourism. “I have been involved with, and even in charge of, cycling events. I have not experienced one as well-planned, thought-out, with every detail taken care of, as this one,” Taylor says. “From the first day of planning through event day, the planning team has the participants in mind. They want to make sure riders are safe, enjoy their experience and come back the next year.” All rides begin and end on the TFS campus. The ride starts at 9 a.m. on October 28. Registration is $35, with ride shirts guaranteed for sign-ups before October 15. After October 15, the fee is $45. ◆ Visit for more information, or find the event on Facebook. To register, visit

62 Northeast Georgia Living

Spring 2017 63


... on the art of release


utumn in Northeast Georgia has some of the most beautiful scenery, and we are blessed to behold it on a daily basis. The stifling heat and humidity of summer has waned, but the frigid temperatures of winter have yet to set upon us. Football season begins, and the holidays are right around the corner. Children are back in school, a new year of learning. There is always a lot going on in the fall, and I think we forget what a show there is to witness as Nature commences with its final rally of life so that the cycle of rebirth can continue. The trees are an artist’s palette of colors, a bloom of reds and oranges and yellows before they bare their branches for the stark winter. It is a sort of glorious purging, a lesson from Nature on the art of release. Letting go is never an easy thing, if you are anything like me. It signifies change, a truly terrifying word for some of us. But perhaps we have been considering the concept of change in the wrong light. Change is necessary, and even magnificent, if you think about it in terms of progress. That progress is illustrated every season to those of us lucky enough to live in this region. Every year, our area of the world sheds its outer layers in a process that may seem like slow death to those who do not know better. The vibrant crimsons and maroons and pear-colored leaves let go of their hold, float64 Northeast Georgia Living

ing down to the earth in a final sacrifice. And once that resplendent transformation occurs, everything around us turns to drab and dreary browns. The bleak, bare branches paint a grisly backdrop to cold, gray days, the once beautiful leaves brittle and lifeless beneath our feet. The trees and other greenery appearing to have lost some sort of battle with the elements, the backdrop of our outside world may seem sad and dull. But if you open your eyes to it, there is beauty in the bareness, too. It might seem scary or sparse to have so much of the landscape exposed, each tree noticeable in its own right instead of blending into a menagerie of colors and contours. You can trace each line back to its beginnings, down to its roots. But perhaps sometimes stripping us down to our basic foundations is the best way to build us back better than we were before. Autumn is just the beginning of the story. The shedding of leaves is just the start of a process of renewal and regrowth. Even Nature knows you must purge some parts in order to keep growing. The land grows green again every year. Flowers spring up from the dirt, the leaves of last year enriching the soil and enabling new growth. Fresh colors pop out from the landscape, and animals emerge from their hiding holes to chirp and sing yet again. Berries and bushes sprinkle the topography, and the trees proudly display their fresh foliage. So it would seem the process of change is neces-

sary to create something new and beautiful. The same could be said of us. Sometimes change can appear to take all of the best parts of us, stripping away what was once lovely and laying us bare to the world. Each of us has experienced this, our branches exposed to the harsh elements, our landscapes stripped and barren. It is in those times of change that we hang tightly to our roots, braving the coldest winter nights and persevering. How often is it that the other side of that stark season bears ripe fruits and foliage? And just like in Nature, is it not a stunningly beautiful process to witness? So maybe it is time to take a cue from the land around us and clean out the clutter in our lives. Let go of the things that hold us back from our better selves. Maybe there is a closet you have been meaning to organize or divorce papers that are waiting to be signed. Perhaps you have been meaning to take more walks with your kids or put in for holiday time at work. There might be a few pounds you have wanted to lose or a certain trip you have been meaning to take. Maybe you have been hesitant to apply for that job. Why wait any longer? The leaves are letting go, the trees giving themselves the best chance to grow back better. Why shouldn’t we do the same? Fall in Northeast Georgia is an exquisite display of the power of change, so what better time to pursue our own paths of transformation? ◆

Northeast Georgia Living • Fall 2017