By Pamela A. Keene
Where can you find the epitome of everything Appalachia this fall? At Georgia’s Spirit of Appalachia Food, Wine & Art Festival on the grounds of the historic Hardman Farm in northeast Georgia in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
On Saturday, September 16, Georgia’s finest chefs, winemakers, craftsmen and musicians will gather at the tree-canopied farm in Sautee Nacoochee for a showcase of Georgia Grown and Georgia made food, wine, art and music.
Sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms, the one-day festival brings together some of the best of the Appalachians, including award-winning Georgia varietal and fruit wines, plus culinary creations using locally sourced and Georgia Grown ingredients.
The Springer Mountain Farms celebrity chefs will create delicious samples made with its organic free-range chicken that’s served in restaurants and sold at retailers across the nation. Georgia’s own Georgia Grown Senior Executive Chef Holly Chute, who served as executive chef for six Georgia governors, will be showcasing her newest gourmet recipes with onsite cooking demonstrations. Renowned Southern chef Jennifer Booker, author of several specialty cookbooks, will share her recipes and insider tips.
Visitors can sample the dishes appropriately paired with Georgia’s fine wines to bring out the subtleties of the flavors. Additionally, food producers and food trucks will offer prepared foods and regional favorites, such as small-batch hand-crafted jams from award-winning Unicoi Preserves, tasty local honey from Honey on the Hill, plus fresh-from-the-farm dairy products and ice cream from Mountain Fresh Creamery. Abby J’s Gourmet brings its Field-to-Fork Pickles, which received the 2016 Flavor of Georgia Award, along with gourmet condiments and accompaniments.
“Our festival is a kaleidoscope of diverse tastes, versatile libations, trademark Georgia sounds, and one-of-a-kind works from artists and craftsmen who all capture the unique flavor of our region,” says Cindy Bailey, president of the White County Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the event again this year. “Our area is known for so many popular attractions and points of interest that it’s a top travel destination for visitors from across the country.”
From the Alpine Village of Helen, the Georgia Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia in Sautee Nacoochee and its exhibits of renown potters, BabyLand General Hospital and its Cabbage Patch Kids, Unicoi State Park and more than 20 cascading waterfalls within a short drive, this region offers a blend of history, culture, outdoor adventure and diverse culinary choices made with local ingredients.
White County is home to seven wineries, the most of any county in Georgia. The Cottage Vineyards & Winery, CeNita Vineyards & Winery, Kaya Vineyard & Winery, Serenity Cellars, Sylvan Valley Cellars, Yonah Mountain Vineyards, and one of the state’s longest-established wineries, Habersham Vineyards & Winery, all offer tours and tastings throughout the year as part of the Unicoi Wine Trail.
Artisans in the juried fine arts and crafts show will offer Georgia made pottery, jewelry and painting. Non-stop entertainment featuring Georgia musicians fill the air with the sounds of bluegrass, rock and jazz. Singer-songwriter Tommy Joe Conner’s Americana style blends rock, country, blues, folk and bluegrass. Currently touring with her Mockingbird Blues album, Heidi Holton performs definitive Delta blues and charms audiences with her trademark sound.
Accommodations 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).
Admission to the festival is free. Tasting tickets will be sold for food and beverage sampling; bottles of wine, beer and cider will also be available for purchase. The Facebook page is www.facebook.com/spiritofappalachia/. For more information, visit www.WhiteCountyChamber.org or call (706) 865-5356.
Spirit of Appalachia Food, Wine & Art Festival: www.whitecountychamber.org.
Alpine Helen/White County CVB: www.helenga.org.