by Pamela Keene
Immerse your senses in all that Georgia holds dear on Saturday, September 17, at the inaugural Georgia’s Spirit of Appalachia Food, Wine & Art Festival at the Hardman Farm in Sautee Nacoochee. Sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms, the one-day festival showcases Georgia Grown and Georgia made food, wine, art and music at the historic 173-acre farm located just south of Helen in the north Georgia Appalachian foothills.
“Northeast Georgia is a treasure trove of fine food, wine, spirits and craft brews,” says Cindy Bailey, president of the White County Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the event. “Add talented Georgia musicians, many of the best artisans in the state, and culinary dishes created by our area’s most in-demand and creative chefs, and it’s a recipe for success.”
Georgia’s Spirit of Appalachia brings together the best that Georgia has to offer, including award-winning Georgia wines that are grown in the cool mountain terrain, and locally produced Springer Mountain Farms chicken that’s served in fine restaurants across the country. Family owned Springer Mountain Farms is providing chicken for well-known area chefs to create mouth-watering dishes from local ingredients. Leading the list of chefs is Georgia Grown Senior Executive Chef Holly Chute, who served as executive chef through the administrations of six Georgia governors. Tasting tickets will be sold for beverage and food tastings; bottles of wine, beer and cider will be available for purchase. Food vendors and food trucks will also be on site for food purchases.
“This event is all about North Georgia and White County as a travel destination and the opportunity to sample the top farm-to-table foods and wines grown and produced here,” Bailey says. “The charming village of Alpine Helen with Oktoberfest, the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia with works by renowned potters such as Lanier Meaders, and the beautiful Unicoi State Park and Adventure Lodge with more than 20 cascading waterfalls nearby, offer plenty for visitors to experience while they’re here.”
Georgia made products take center stage with nearly 80 juried arts vendors from within the state, plus the state’s best food producers and farms, such as Mountain Fresh Creamery, Nadine’s Classic Cuisine, Nora Mill Granary and Unicoi Preserves. White County is home to seven wineries — the most of any county in Georgia – and the Unicoi Wine Trail. Samples of beverages from local craft breweries and cideries, such as Sautee Hard Cider, home of Bull Dog Cider in Cleveland, will be offered.
The day will be filled with wall-to-wall entertainment by Georgia musicians including Atlanta- based Men in Blues, hipster bluegrass band Radford Windham & Step Back Cadillac, and singer songwriter Teddy Baker. This year has been declared The Year of Georgia Music to celebrate the state’s rich contributions to the industry. From Southern Rock to blues, jazz and soul, the state’s musical heritage is diverse and deep-rooted.
Agriculture has long been the state’s largest economic driver. In 2012, the Department of Agriculture introduced the Georgia Grown brand to bring together producers, processors, suppliers, distributors, retailers, agritourism and consumers. As the Peach State, Georgia is also well known for its pecans, blueberries and poultry, shipped to retail outlets and restaurants across the nation.
Entrance to the festival is free. Tickets for tastings will be sold on site.
Local ccommodations range from picturesque bed and breakfasts, to rental cabins, state park lodges and franchise hotels. See below for information about lodging.
White County is nestled in the heart of mountains of northeast Georgia, an easy drive from Atlanta (90 miles), Greenville, SC (100 miles), Asheville, NC (130 miles), Chattanooga, TN (135 miles).
For more information, visit www.WhiteCountyChamber.org or call (706) 865-5356.
White County Chamber of Commerce: www.whitecountychamber.org
Spirit of Appalachia Food, Wine & Art Festival: www.whitecountychamber.org Alpine Helen CVB: www.helenga.org/