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Museum of Food and Drink Seeks to Launch Cereal-Puffing Exhibit

Museum of Food and Drink Seeks to Launch Cereal-Puffing Exhibit



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New York’s Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) launched a Kickstarter on June 29th for their first exhibit, which will feature a cereal puffing gun. The exhibit, called “BOOM! The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Breakfast Cereal,” seeks to educate the community about the science of cereal production and the history of the cereal industry.

MOFAD has a 3,200-pound puffing gun, which is modeled after the cereal machines from the early 1900s. The museum’s puffing gun will demonstrate how cereal is made, and visitors can taste the freshly puffed cereal on the spot. “Cereal is one of those interesting products that almost all of us have. Very few know how it’s made, how it fits in advertising, or think about its history from 20th century till today,” museum founder Dave Arnold told The Daily Meal. “Cereal fits into a lot of different interesting trends in nutrition, commerce, advertisement, business, technology, and more. Plus, everyone likes it, so it’s a good place to start.”

This will be the MOFAD’s first mobile pop-up exhibit, and the museum’s long-term goal is to create a permanent museum filled with exhibits like “BOOM!.” Until then, the nonprofit museum will present their traveling exhibit at schools, parks, streets, and plazas. “We’re going to start in New York City later in the summer, then probably start in cities close by in the fall. After we test the waters, we hope to take the puffing gun exhibit across the country,” Arnold told us. To do so, the museum is trying to raise $80,000 for a steel and glass platform for the machine, a flatbed trailer, and puffable ingredients.

So far, over two hundred backers pledged more than $28,000 to the Kickstarter campaign. Donors can get MOFAD t-shirts, tote bags, VIP “Puff Party” invitations, and more. Three backers who pledge $10,000 can create their custom cereal with Dave Arnold.

The museum has until July 20, 2013 to raise all the money, and if they do, the cereal exhibit will launch this August.

As for other exhibit ideas, Arnold has some in mind. “Future exhibits could be about coffee, a comparison of different kitchens from different ages, or the contribution of certain people the U.S. culinary history, Arnold said. If MOFAD’s cereal Kickstarter becomes a success, it is likely that we’ll see more exhibits soon.


Museum of Food and Drink Seeks to Launch Cereal-Puffing Exhibit - Recipes

January 1, 2017, Polar Bear Dip, Perdido Key, FL, www.FlorAbama.com
The Flora-Bama Lounge on the Florida-Alabama state line on Perdido Key hosts this popular splash in the Gulf of Mexico. The annual submergence into the icy cold waters provides great laughs and fun for the whole family. After the Polar Bear Dip is completed, everyone joins in a southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and warms up with good music and beverages.

January 6-February 28, 2017, Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana, Southwest Louisiana, www.SWLAMardiGras.com
Southwest Louisiana hosts the second largest Mardi Gras in Louisiana. With more than 60 krewes, the whole family will have something to celebrate. The excitement kicks off on January 6 with the annual 12th Night Celebration, as the royal courts from 2016 usher in the new year in style with their extraordinary and intricate costumes. After 12th Night, Laissez les bons temps rouler, as the celebration and festivities pack the calendar until Fat Tuesday on February 28. As the Mardi Gras weekend approaches the celebration really kicks into full gear with parades, cook-offs, balls, galas and more. Don’t miss the 2017 Royal Gala on February 27, as the royal courts of krewes parade for the public in full regalia at Lake Charles Civic Center. Set your alarm clocks on February 28 as Fat Tuesday starts off early with the Iowa Chick run followed by live music, gumbo and the Knight of Columbus Hall. Afterwards, reserve your spot for the grand finale of SWLA Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Krewes Parade featuring elaborate floats, costumes and plenty of beads that winds through Lake Charles.

January 13-14, 2017, Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival , Cameron, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The Annual Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival will highlight all the local, natural resource industries in the area. The festival caters to all ages and interests, featuring parades, a Gumbo Cook-off, pageants, a 5k and 1 Mile Run/Walk, dances, Cajun music, exhibits and a carnival complete with amusements rides. And don’t forget about the unique contests like duck and goose calling, trap setting, nutria and muskrat skinning, oyster shucking and skeet shooting. The dog trials are always a favorite among hunters! These contests and more make this a memorable experience for the whole family and a reason why people keep coming back to Southwest Louisiana’s “oldest and coldest” festival. Proceeds benefit the Cameron Parish Junior Livestock program as well as a valedictorian scholarship for the local high schools.

January 13-16, 2017, Martin Luther King Jr. Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival honors the courageous effort and sacrifices of Martin Luther King, Jr. The festivities kick off with a memorial breakfast, held at Trinity Baptist Church on Friday, January 13, which honors outstanding individuals in the community. The celebration continues on Monday, January 16, with the Family Day Festival where guests can enjoy live, local and national entertainers in the R&B, Blues, Zydeco and Southern Soul genres. Kids of all ages will get a chance to catch throws at the parade, which will depart from Lake Charles Civic Center. A day of commemoration and fun, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival is a celebration for the whole family.

January 23-28, 2017, Charleston Restaurant Week, Charleston, WV, www.CWVRestaurantWeek.com
Warm up this winter with menus that satisfy at Charleston Restaurant Week. Chow down on three-course meals for only three dollars from local restaurants of all varieties. This event has grown from 8 restaurants in its first year to twenty restaurants in its third year. This sell-out event is a six-day promotion of Charleston’s tastiest establishments. This year, expect more food than ever, look out for an exclusive preview called “First Course” and expanded regional advertising.

January 28, 2017, 16th Annual African American Cultural Celebration, Raleigh, NC, www.NCMuseumofHistory.org
The African American Cultural Celebration is North Carolina’s official statewide kickoff to Black History Month. This lively festival celebrates North Carolina’s rich and diverse African American heritage. Black residents have played an integral role in shaping the state’s politics, education, literacy, arts and religious practices. This annual event, co-sponsored by the N.C. African American Heritage Commission, brings together cultural organizations and presenters from across the state for a day of free programs that highlight the state’s African American history and culture. More than 75 presenters participate, including musicians, storytellers, dancers, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, re-enactors, and chefs. Visitors of all ages and backgrounds enjoy fun, hands-on activities that enhance their learning experiences. High-quality visual artists and craftsmen demonstrate their work throughout the museum. Each year, nationally known authors and poets share their work in the Literature and the Spoken Word Area. Come see the historic presentations, dramatic performances and film screenings that celebrate North Carolina’s African American Heritage.

January 17-March 26, 2017, Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS), Ocala, FL, www.HitsShows.com/ocala/hits-ocala-winter-circuit
The Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) Ocala Winter Show Jumping Circuit is a 10-week meet beginning January 17 and ending with the big One Million Dollar Grand Prix Finale on Sunday, March 26. Growing in size and popularity, families travel far and wide to Ocala to participate in the HITS competitions. The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit has become a major sports attractions and destination in the Ocala/Marion County area, bringing in a significant number of spectators from both in and out of state.

January 25-30, 2017, 20th Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, Titusville, FL, www.SpaceCoastBirdingAndWildlifeFestival.org
The Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival highlights the importance of nature-based activities on Florida’s Space Coast. The Festival is a premier event offering opportunities for attendees to explore this world-renowned natural area of Florida, home to the largest collection of endangered wildlife and plants in the continental United State and over 300 species of birds. The Festival offers field trips, outdoor workshops, classroom and keynote presentations by bird experts, pelagic boat trips, a nature-based trade show, art show and competition and the Raptor Project. Don’t miss the special programs and outdoor opportunities to work with national and internationally known photographers.

February 2-4, 2017, The North Carolina Jazz Festival, Wilmington, NC, www.NCJazzFestival.com
The North Carolina Jazz Festival is one of the oldest traditional jazz festivals in the U.S. This party sounds off on Thursday evening with a special event concert, “Styles of Jazz”, where several styles of the genre will be celebrated. Friday and Saturday evenings, guests will enjoy 14 All-Star musicians from around the world as they present seven sets of Traditional Jazz, with a different leader for each set. This event takes place at the Wilmington Hilton Riverside and brings attendees from across the U.S. and beyond for a weekend where jazz rules the night, but the days are free for exploring the local historic sites, beaches, golf courses, art galleries, shops and fine dining restaurants.

February 2-4, 2017, Southwest District Livestock Show & Rodeo, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
Called “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” the Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo returns to the Burton Complex with rodeo performances, livestock shows, Queen’s Pageant, a stick-horse rodeo, appearances by Miss Rodeo Louisiana and more. The “mane” attraction is the professional rodeo performances that kick into gear each night featuring bucking broncos, thundering hooves and cheering fans. Don’t miss the Western Heritage Days, celebrating cowboys, the great outdoors and all things western. Sure to “draw” a crowd, don’t miss the shoot-out, petting zoo, vittles and more. Mosey on over to the SWLA Western Heritage Rodeo Trail Ride and Parade that will kick off Thursday.

February 3-5, 2017, Athens Wine Weekend, Athens, GA, www.AthensWineWeekend.com
Bottoms up! Sip the weekend away at Athens Wine Weekend. This yearly event benefits The Classic Center Cultural Foundation. The Foundation helps provide performing and culinary arts scholarships for high school and college students and supports various arts programs in the Athens community. The weekend features a special amuse-bouche presentation on Friday, a grand tasting, premier wine seminars and a six-course gourmet dinner on Saturday and finally, the weekend comes to close Sunday with a sparkling wine brunch. New this year to Athens Wine weekend, sip while shopping for a good cause at local pop-up shops around the venue.

February 4, 2017, Double Bridge Run, Pensacola, FL, www.DoubleBridgeRun.com
Don’t walk, run to one of the country’s premier 15K races in the country—The Pensacola Double Bridge Run. This 15K carries runners over two bridges, across Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound, which are complete with stunning ocean views. The course also takes runners from downtown Pensacola with a tour that includes the historic district, and picturesque Bayfront Parkway, a run through Gulf Breeze, and onto Pensacola Beach. The 5K invites both runners and walkers to travel from Gulf Breeze to beautiful Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island and the Gulf Islands Seashore. A Kids Fun Run wraps up the action along the Gulf of Mexico. Run from the winter blues by escaping to Pensacola’s Double Bridge Run.

February 4-5, 2017, Brooksville Native American Festival, Brooksville, FL, www.BrooksvilleNativeAmericanFestival.com
The Brooksville Native American Festival immerses guests in Native American art, culture and history. The event features two full days of entertainment, including music, dance, primitive skills demonstrations and more. Past entertainment has included The Big Mountain Family, Ulali, Nahui Ollin Aztec Dancers and a Men’s Fancy Dance Competition. New this year, is the Na Ka Oi Polynesian dancers who heat up the stage with a fire knife show. Vendors offer handmade and Native American inspired art, crafts and jewelry. Numerous food trucks sell native foods such as: Indian tacos, buffalo burgers and fry bread. The festival supports local organizations such as the veterans clubs, the Hernando Historical Society, 88.5 WMNF community radio and the blood mobile by providing them free booths at the event.

February 11-12, 2017, ArtsFest, Stuart, Florida, https://martinartsorg.presencehost.net/news_events/artsfest/artsfest.html
For 30 years, the Arts Council of Martin County has hosted ArtsFest in beautiful downtown Stuart, Florida. ArtsFest attracts more than 125 artists to participate in this juried art show. Over 30,000 patrons enjoy everything from paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry and ceramics. The art show may be the main attraction but the Arts Council incorporates all components of the arts to give guests a unique experience. For the third year in a row, local chefs will compete in a “Chopped” culinary competition preparing a meal on site from a box of mystery ingredients. Grammy award winning flautist, Nestor Taures will take the stage and then a one-act play— Friends Welcome: The One with the B-word fills in the 23-year gap since the hit TV Show Friends aired, showing us the lives of 21-year old Ben Gellar and the 18-year-old Buffay triplets.


February 23-25, 2017, Georgia National Rodeo & Junior Livestock Show, Perry, GA, www.GeorgiaNationalRodeo.com
The fun times roll—and ride—at the Georgia National Rodeo & Junior Livestock Show in Perry, Georgia. The Rodeo is sanctioned by the PRCA. The even features specialty acts, plus cowboys and cowgirls from across the country compete in seven categories: saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, bull riding and barrel racing. Points earned at the rodeo qualify riders for the national finals held every December in Las Vegas. The Junior Livestock show features Georgia’s 4-H and FFA students competing for statewide championships. Every year is different, new competitors and stock, make each night new and exciting.

February 24, 2017, Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardiGras.com
Held at one of the country’s original celebration sites, Pensacola hosts this family-oriented Mardis Gras Parade in Pensacola’s historical downtown. Crowds catch beads, doubloons and moonpies galore at this classic event. The parade takes place on Palafox and Garden Streets. The Parade starts at 2:00pm and continues until around 6:00pm. Have little ones? Take advantage of the children’s viewing area where there is kid friendly food, face painting, and other family friendly entertainment. This is the largest and most extravagant parade in the area, bringing in hundreds of thousands of guests each year.

February 25, 2017, Krewe of Gemini Grand Parade XXVIII, Shreveport, LA, www.KreweOfGemini.com
Celebrate carnival season in North Louisiana. The Krewe of Gemini will celebrate its 28th year of throwing the largest free event in Shreveport. The night before the parade, organizers host the “Load the Floats” party at 2101 East Texas Street in Bossier City beginning at 5 p.m. The parade will roll the next evening beginning on Clyde Fant near the Sci-port, travelling down the Shreveport-Barksdale Highway, then onto East Kings Highway to conclude at Preston Boulevard. Invite family and friends to enjoy the festivities and yell, “Throw Me Something Mister!” Expect more than a million beads, cups, doubloons, toys and other trinkets to fly from the floats and into the crowds.

February 25, 2017, Krewe of Lafitte Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardiGras.com
Come enjoy the only illuminated nighttime parade in Pensacola. The Krewe of Lafitte Mardi Gras Parade entertains with marching bands, lighted floats and great throws as they kick off the Mardi Gras celebration in Pensacola. This is the largest Krewe in Pensacola, including 275 Gentlemen Pirates. This fun-filled time rolls out at 7 p.m.

February 26, 2017, Krewe of Wrecks Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardisGras.com
The Krewe of Wrecks Parade is a Mardis Gras parade with an island atmosphere. This Pensacola classic will have the best floats throwing beads, candy and doubloons. No one will leave the island beadles! Afterwards, parade parties are everywhere and the biggest is on the boardwalk, at the shell, where parade participants wait for the results of judges and trophies to be awarded. Of course the music is playing and partiers dance the night away.

March 2-12, 2017, Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, FL, www.FLStrawberryFestival.com
With nearly 10,000 acres of strawberries grown annually in Plant City, Florida, the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, it is only appropriate that their harvest be given a proper celebration. Since 1930, the Florida Strawberry Festival has strived to provide visitors from around the globe with a family-friendly event that has something to offer everyone. A board of directors, staff and nearly 2,500 volunteers from around the community work together to host 24 headline entertainment acts, seven livestock shows, a midway of 90+ attractions, hundreds of concessionaires, daily free entertainment acts, competitive exhibits and much more—all while paying homage to the strawberry.

March 3-5, 2017, Swamp Fest, Weeki Wachee, FL, www.SwampFestWeekiWachee.com/
The annual Swamp Fest began in 1993 as an effort to help the communities of Weeki Wachee and Hernando Beach in the aftermath of the No-Name Storm. The event is now held at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Enjoy shows held at the park as well as festival activities including local musical talent, arts and crafts vendors, prize drawings and contests. The event features a Swamp Monster contest and a mascot contest for artists to submit their designs to be printed T-Shirts sold at the event.

March 4-5, 2017, Jerry Brown Arts Festival, Hamilton, AL, www.JBAF.org
The Jerry Brown Arts Festival (JBAF) is an indoor, juried arts festival headlined and named in honor of Hamilton resident and Smithsonian potter, Jerry Brown. Brown is a ninth-generation potter and was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship in 1992 and in 2003 he received the Alabama Heritage Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Artists from throughout the Southeastern United States participate in this two-day festival celebrating the festival’s theme, “Reflections of the South.” Art isn’t the only thing that feeds the senses, this festival is also known for its delicious food. Make sure to stay fueled while shopping for one-of-a-kind pieces, by chowing down on burgers, fried Oreos, funnel cakes and more.

March 6-11, 2017, 2017 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Hilton Head Island, SC, www.HHIPC.org
Young Pianists go key to key at The Hilton Head International Piano Competition. This is one of the leading events of its kind in the United States and is in its 22nd year. In 2017, twenty of the world’s best pianists, ages 13-17, will compete for $18,500 in cash prizes, a return performance with Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra as well as other performance opportunities. The competitors are adjudicated by a panel of five jurors who are internationally known for their careers as concert pianists and teachers. Only a few locations in the United State host a piano competition at this level of excellence and international renown. Visitors travel from 32 states and eight countries to watch this show-stopping competition.

March 10-12, 2017, Black Heritage Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The annual Black Heritage Festival features live entertainment, mouthwatering food and great family fun. The festival brings together the cultures of Africa and Southwest Louisiana and highlights the best in the community. While celebrating diversity, culture and education, performers fill the air with the sounds of legendary Zydeco, Jazz, R&B and Gospel music. Saturday’s events will take place at the Lake Charles Civic Center and will include a Baby Expo/Healthy Baby Contest, Vendor’s Expo, Africana Culture Performance Extravaganza, Zydeco Aerobics, a Hall of Fame Ceremony, educational workshops, magic shows and much more. Come hungry because food booths in the interactive experience will serve plenty of tasty Louisiana Creole and traditional African-American foods, including gumbo, jambalaya and barbeque.

March 11-12, 2017, Art in the Park, Brooksville, FL, www.HernandoArts.org/index.php/art-in-the-park
The 33rd annual Art in the Park is a weekend for visual and performing arts enthusiasts. The Hernando County Arts Council hosts the event in Tom Varn Park and has booths for over 100 exhibitors to display and sell their art. This event includes a juried art show with prizes for top contenders. Exhibitors include fine arts, crafts, musicians and local food vendors. A student exhibit displays the works of all ages from Hernando County public and private schools. Art demonstrators and the Hernando Symphony Orchestra provide entertainment throughout the day. Have little ones? Don’t miss the Kids Zone—complete with a petting zoo and a hands-on booth for children to experience playing different types of instruments with the help of musicians on site.

March 11-12, 2017, Forsythia Festival, Forsyth, GA, www.ForsythiaFestival.com
For 30 years, The Forsythia Festival has celebrated community and crafts during this two-day event. The festival season is kicked-off with Hello Yellow, a month prior to the festival weekend when the town is encouraged to paint the town yellow. The festival is free to the public, featuring handmade arts and crafts, a 5k/one-mile fun run, tailgate toss, food and a children’s area. Additionally there is a faith-based singing competition celebrating music, faith and the community. There are also multiple events leading up to the awaited weekend, including the festival logo contest. New this year, expect a 30-year anniversary gala.

March 11-12, 18-19, 2017, Rock City’s Shamrock City, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/shamrock
Looking for the luck of the Irish? Visit Rock City’s 10th annual Irish celebration and festival—Shamrock City! This premiere St. Patrick’s Day event includes live Irish Music, Irish jig lessons, Irish food, specialty beer, dance performances, costumed characters and fun for the whole family. You can even see the High Falls flowing green! If you have little ones, don’t miss the Shamrock Quest Kid’s Adventure and be sure to stop by the Fudge Kitchen, which will have green fudge making demonstrations throughout the day.

March 17-18, 2017, Iowa Rabbit Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
Celebrating the economic and culinary impact rabbits have in Southwest Louisiana, the annual Iowa Rabbit Festival is a one-of-a-kind event. Enjoy all things rabbit—from rabbit gumbo to the crowning of the new Miss Bunny, who will go on to represent the festival at other statewide competitions. The family-friendly event has some of the best music in the area from local Cajun favorites to regional headliners. From live music, to cook-offs, this festival is a hare-raising good time. All proceeds from the festival go to support the community of Iowa and various other youth organizations, schools and non-profit groups.

March 18, 2017, McGuire’s Prediction Run 5K, Pensacola, FL, www.McGuiresIrishPub.com
McGuire’s Prediction Run is celebrating its 40th year in 2017. With more than 5,000 participants, it is Pensacola’s largest run and the nation’s largest prediction run. Each runner/walker predicts how long it will take them to complete the 3.1 mile course. The finishers who come closest to the time predicted on their registration form, wins! The use of watches or timing devices will disqualify participants. Run into St. Patrick’s Day fun at McGuire’s 40th Annual Prediction Run.

March 18, 2017, Southwest Florida Reading Festival, Fort Myers, FL, www.Readfest.org
The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is the largest one-day reading festival in Florida and has a first-rate reputation with prime authors and publishers. The festival’s allure is the diverse line-up of approximately 25 nationally acclaimed, best-selling authors for all reading interests and ages. This festival is so loved that attendees come back year after year. It is a fun, free event for the community and draws and average of 18,000 people to downtown Fort Myers for the day. The fans attend to hear and meet best-selling authors, participate in contests and activities and find the latest and greatest in books, technology and accessories. In addition to author appearances, there are programs and shows for youth, a free book for every child and teen, a teen battle of the bands, crafts and a graffiti and chalk wall.

March 18-19, 2017, Lake Charles Civic Ballet, Assemble` 2017, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The Lake Charles Civic Ballet and the Southwest Louisiana arts community will present Assemble` 2017: Alice in Wonderland at the Lake Charles Civic Center. This classic fairytale will be transformed into a full-length ballet in two acts, featuring the debut of William G. Rose’s original composition for a 16-piece orchestra. The show also features whimsical costumes, transformative sets, vibrant lighting and original choreography—all of which will be a collaboration of numerous community members, helping to encompass a variety of dance and music styles including tap, jazz, contemporary, circus acrobatics and more.

March 20-April 8, 2017, 77th Annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage, Columbus, MS, www.VisitColumbusMS.org/index.php/attractions/Spring%20Pilgrimage#top
Long recognized as one of the best and most authentic home tours in the South, the annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage offers a varied array of cultural activities to celebrate the best Columbus has to offer. Approaching its 77th year, Pilgrimage showcases resplendent antebellum mansions, inviting gardens and magnificent churches, while providing a feast for the senses. The food-fun starts with the Pilgrimage Kickoff Party crawfish and shrimp boil and ends with a timeless garden party as guests stroll through the Colonnade Garden with mint juleps and cheese straws in hand. In between the tasteful, highly-anticipated events, Pilgrimage sports the 4th annual Pilgrimage Half Marathon/5K run, enlightens guests through Tales From The Crypt performances in historic Friendship Cemetery and serves up Catfish in the Alley—a 2014 Garden and Gun Magazine Editor’s Choice event that is complete with cool, soulful blues and handcrafted items presented in Artisan’s Alley. Columbus’ unparalleled hospitality thrives throughout the 10-day event with horse-drawn carriage rides through one of Columbus’ National Register Historic Districts and double decker bus rides to Pilgrimage tour homes.

March 23-26, 2017, Festival of Flowers, Mobile, AL, www.FestivalOfFlowers.com
Have a “Wildly Whimsical” time at the 2017 Festival of Flowers in Mobile, Alabama. Imagination and intrigue meets fun and fantasy at the largest flower show in the southeast. This year the show celebrates its 24th year with its most impressive array of blooming beauty. The light-hearted theme, “Wildly Whimsical” sets the tone for a one-of-a-kind experience that will evoke curiosity and wonder in all who travel through the festival’s fanciful gardens. Come and see the wonders of this region’s most popular floral extravaganza—it’s truly a feast for the senses. Enjoy expertly landscaped gardens, an art competition, shopping and kids activities.

March 24-April 16, 2016, 2017, Rock City’s Fairytale Nights, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, www.SeeRockCity.com/fairytale
Adventure awaits at Rock City’s newest spring event, Fairytale Nights—where dreams come to life! Come on a journey and travel to a faraway kingdom where magic is around every turn. Help Little Red Riding Hood avoid the Big Bad Wolf follow Jack as he ventures off the beanstalk into the giant’s lair, enjoy radiant gardens with Cinderella and learn to sword fight with a knight. This enchanted event includes a kid’s activity center where children can meet their favorite characters and collect stamps in their passport to enchantment.

March 25, 2017, Coastal Living Show, Wilmington, NC www.CoastalLivingShow.com
Life’s a beach at the Coastal Living Show. This event is in its 38th year and will be held at the Grand Ballroom and River Concourse of the Wilmington Convention Center from 10a.m.-5p.m. The show features a variety of gifts, products and services to make everything about coastal living beautiful. Come spruce up the home, garden, office, the entertainment collection and even personal wardrobes. In addition, there will be door prizes, raffles, exhibitor seminars and food—something for everyone in the family. Admission is free and all proceeds from Coastal Living Show will go towards various local organizations that serve to improve the lives of women and children.

March 25-26, 2017, Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival, Conyers, GA, www.ConyersCherryBlossomFest.com
In 1982, Maxwell (a previous local Japanese manufacturing company) and the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce held the first Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival to further nurture the friendship and exchange of Japanese culture. Scheduled during the blooming of the beautiful Yoshino Cherry Trees, the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival brings the community together to focus on cultural understanding and friendship through art, music, dance, crafts, food and entertainment. The Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival is held at the Georgia International Horse Park and continues to grow and strive for excellence each year. The Southeast Festivals Association awarded the event “Best Festival in the Southeast” in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2015.

March 27-April 3, 2017, Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Champions Tour, Saucier, MS, http://2017mgrc.com/index/php/
This three-day, 54-hole stroke competition takes place at the nationally renowned and world-class Fallen Oak, designed by Tom Fazio. With seven World Golf Hall of Famers and 17 major championship winners, the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic field will feature some of the greatest golfers in the world. PRG Tour Champions is a membership-based organization of professional golfers ages 50 and older. This is a Golf Channel televised event.

March 31-April 1, 2017, Springtime Tallahassee, Tallahassee, FL, www.SpringtimeTallahassee.com
Experience true southern hospitality with one of the largest and most celebrated festivals in the southeast—Springtime Tallahassee. This free two-day event kicks off with a Friday Night Music Festival featuring national entertainment acts along with tasty food and beverage vendors. Saturday begins with the Grand Parade featuring over 100 colorful entries and is followed by the famous Jubilee in the Park, which offers handcrafted items, a children’s park and two entertainment stages in downtown Tallahassee.

March 31-April 2, 2017, Summerville Family YMCA’s Flowertown Festival, Summerville, SC, www.FlowertownFestival.org
For 45 years, the Flowertown Festival has been the premier fundraising event for the Summerville YMCA. Every spring, thousands of people visit Summerville to see nature’s bounty awash in color, from the hot pink azaleas, to the purple wisteria, to the delicate white dogwood. On this three-day weekend, 200,000 festivalgoers visit this gracious Southern town to take in the flowers and attend one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast. The festival hosts nearly 500 vendors from arts and crafts, businesses, nonprofits, farmer’s market and commercial food and beverage. This family-friendly event has a Children’s Jubilee and a music venue.

April 1-2, 2017, Pensacola Jazzfest, Pensacola, FL, www.JazzPensacola.com
The 34th annual Pensacola JazzFest is a free all-jazz festival held in historic Seville Square in Downtown Pensacola. With its beautiful live oaks and historic surroundings, Seville Square and the gazebo stage offer the perfect setting for this springtime party. This year, four headliner artists and groups are coming from around the country to fill the spring air with the sweet sounds of jazz. In addition to a great music line up, guests will enjoy food by local vendors, beer and wine, arts and crafts and jazz merchandise is available for purchase.

April 2-3, 2017, Historic Pendleton Spring Jubilee, Pendleton, SC, http://www.CrownOftheCarolinas.org/?page_id=204
For almost 40 years, the Historic Pendleton Spring Jubilee has been a ‘rite of spring’ in Upstate South Carolina. Held the first full weekend in April each year, this FREE two-day Arts and Crafts festival is well known for its nearly 100 juried artists from the region and across the country selling handmade works of art on the Village Green. Dogwood blossoms and daffodils adorn The Green, while music fills the air with the Blues, Celtic, Bluegrass, Beach, Gospel and Rock & Roll. Visitors shop for one of a kind treasures including 2D and 3D Mixed Media, Pottery, Metal Work, Painting, Photography, Glass, Pen and Ink, Woodcraft, Fiber/Leather/Wearables, Basketry and Children’s arts. Sample delicious foods from various vendors as you shop the days away. Spring Jubilee is truly ‘the place to be’ on the first full weekend of April where visitors experience first-hand the hospitality of Upstate South Carolina.

April 5-9, 2017, North Carolina Azalea Festival at Wilmington, Inc., www.NCAzaleaFestival.org
For more than 60 years, the folks of Southeastern North Carolina have been throwing the best party in the South and you’re invited! The North Carolina Azalea Festival is Wilmington’s annual community celebration and the largest event of its kind in the state. Founded in 1948, the Azalea Festival has emerged as the area’s premier event. Each year the festivities begin when Queen Azalea arrives to open the five-day extravaganza. The festival’s concerts, fairs and special events attract 300,000 people each year. There are over 50 events to enjoy—including concerts, art shows, a street fair with interactive displays, home and garden tours, a parade and special exhibits. Whether enjoying live music, a gala or partaking in the delicious food and beverages this event offers, the blooming azaleas set the backdrop, offering a colorful testimony to the rich heritage of coastal Carolina.

A pril 6-8, 2017, Louisiana Railroad Days Festival, DeQuincy, LA, www.LaRailroadDaysFestival.com
This Southwest Louisiana tradition will make you stop in your tracks! Festival goers can take a step back in time at the annual DeQuincy Railroad Days Festival, celebrating the history of the railroad where in 1897, the tracks of two rail companies converged at the present-day DeQuincy. Attendees can take tours of the historic railroad museum built in 1923 or enter the Railroad Days Queen’s pageant. Families can join in on the Rail Bicycle Ride—open to everyone from the skilled cyclist to the tiniest training wheels. Enjoy carnival rides, food vendors and a parade. Other events include a 5k, model train show, old timers’ reunion, the Railroad Idol Contest and live music. Celebrating 34 years, this locals’ favorite won’t be losing steam any time soon.
April 7-9, 2017, Original Downtown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.DowntownCrawfest.com
Bring a friend -or two- and your appetite to the Original Downtown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival. Each year, this event exceeds expectations with the amount of food, music and entertainment it offers. This year, expect over 10,000 pounds of crawfish, a number of featured artists playing Pop, Cajun and Zydeco music and the best food and fun at one of the largest indoor/outdoor festivals in Southwest Louisiana. Enjoy carnival rides, a parade through downtown Lake Charles, live entertainment, a crawfish eating contest, a pageant, food vendors and good company. The event is held at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Kids 10 and under are free.

April 8-9, 14-15, 2017, KidFest! Ridgeland, Ridgeland, MS, www.KidFestRidgeland.com
Four days of affordable family fun, KidFest! Ridgeland proved a unique opportunity for families to spend time together in a beautiful city park and participate in a variety of shows, activities and attractions. Each year the festival features different national touring acts like Zoppe’—an Italian Family Circus, Wild About Monkeys, Sea Lion Splash and many others. In addition, festival guests have the opportunity to participate in activities such as the Nylon Zoo and Backyard Circus, as well as ride carnival rides, pony rides and train rides. All of the shows and attractions are presented in intimate settings so everything is “up close and personal.” All shows and activities are included in admission price. At KidFest! Ridgeland, families are encouraged to participate in as many of the festivities as their hearts desire.

April 8, 2017, Lewisburg Chocolate Festival, Lewisburg, WV, www.LewisburgChocolateFestival.com
The Lewisburg Chocolate Festival kicks off the spring season in April, when the downtown merchants use chocolate to entice folks to visit downtown. In 2016, there were 24 different locations offering chocolate tastings. Each tasting is a ticket and each ticket costs $1. The event includes professional chef demonstrations, chocolate displays, a hands-free mousse-eating contest, chocolate themed dinners, a 10k run and various children activities. The Chocolate Festival originated as a way to draw visitors to the area during the shoulder season. It continues to be an important fundraiser for the United Way of Greenbrier Valley. This year expect more varieties of chocolate, more chocolate-themed free movie viewings and more restaurants and bands to feed the senses.
April 16, 2017, Easter Sunrise Service, Stone Mountain, GA, http://www.StoneMountainPark.com/Events/Easter-Sunrise-Service
Experience serenity and peace as the Stone Mountain Sunrise Association presents two simultaneous, non-denominational Easter Services at the top of the Mountain and at the base of the Mountain on Memorial Lawn. The event began in 1944, before the land around Stone Mountain was officially owned by the state. Lucille Lanford, from Stone Mountain United Methodist Church, suggested that the church’s youth group climb to the top of Stone Mountain on Easter morning to watch the sunrise. The event grew from that one youth group to thousands ascending the mountain every Easter since.

April 20-29, 2017, Come-See-Me-Festival, Rock Hill, SC, https://www.ComeSeeMe.org/
Winner of the 2014 and 2015 SC Event of the Year, the Come-See-Me Festival showcases Rock Hill with 10 days of music, sports, community activities and garden parties. Comprised of more than 80 events and activities, the Festival presents guests with signature events including Beach Bash, Parade, Moonlight Jazz & Blues and Gourmet Gardens. Come-See-Me also hosts a Tailgate Party and Fireworks Extravaganza to a crowd of more than 20,000. Kids take part in the Mayor’s Frog Jump, Teddy Bear Tea Party, Chalk on Main, Musical Mania, Sundaes with Glen (the mascot), Healthy Kids Zone and Everything Trucks. Competitions include a half-marathon, 5K road races, 1-mile fun run, Cornhole Throwdown, tennis tournament and Barbeque Cook-Off. Seventeen musical acts entertain for free throughout the festival and local talent takes the stage on Broadway Night. “Come-See” why over 128,000 people attend this event.

April 20-May 5, 2017, Kentucky Derby Festival, Louisville, KY, www.KDF.org
The Kentucky Derby Festival stretches a famous “two minutes” into a month-long party. What the Run for the Run for the Roses is to horse racing, the Derby Festival is to community celebrations. The Festival is one of the premiere events of its kind in the world and a proud winner of the International Festival & Events Association Award for the Best Overall Festival eight times. The 2017 Festival blasts off on April 22nd with the Opening Ceremonies—Thunder Over Louisville, one of the nation’s largest annual fireworks extravaganzas! The following weeks of entertainment promise something for everyone. For sports fans, there is basketball, volleyball and golf. For music lovers, the concerts are almost non-stop. With two-thirds of the Festival events free, families can enjoy numerous just-for-the-kids activities without stretching the pocketbook. Other highlights include a half and full marathon, cycling event, hot-air balloon festival and live bed racing. The festival includes several formal affairs as well as casual foot-stomping good times all around the community. From elephant ears and corndogs at the Chow Wagon, to cocktail hours and wine and beer tastings, culinary adventures abound. Don’t walk, race to the Kentucky Derby Festival!

April 21-27, 2017, ArtFields, Lake City, South Carolina, www.ArtfieldSC.org
ArtFields started in 2013 with a simple goal: honor the artists of the Southeast with a week’s worth of celebration and competition in the heart of a traditional Southeastern small town. With over 120,000 dollars awarded based on the input of every visitor to AirFields and a panel of judges made up of acclaimed artists and educators, the competition offers life-changing amounts of prize money to all artists in all media who live in the twelve Southeastern states. Over 400 masterpieces will be displayed in locally owned venues, from renovated warehouses from the 1920’s to Smithsonian qualified art galleries to upscale restaurants and boutiques, in a mutual celebration of art and community. This once agricultural community becomes a living art gallery for nine days during ArtFields.

April 21-23, 2017, Kentucky Crafted: The Market, Lexington, KY, http://ArtsCouncil.ky.gov/KAC/Showcasing/2017Market.htm
Kentucky Crafted: The Market is the Kentucky Arts Councils Signature event produced each year in the spring. This renowned event features the highest quality art, craft, literature, music, film and food found in the state. More than 200 Kentucky crafted and select out-of-state artists, musicians and artisanal food makers create their finest work available to wholesale buyers and the general public during this three-day market. The Market earned the title “Number one Fair & Festival” of AmericanStyle Magazine four years in a row. This year, expect new exhibitors, a new line-up of musicians and new hands-on activities for the family.

April 22-23, 2017, 42nd Annual Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival, Melrose, LA, www.MelrosePlantation.org
A premier event for over 40 years, the 42nd annual Melrose plantation Arts and Crafts Festival is a weekend of fun held on the grounds of the historic Melrose Plantation. Each year the festival features food vendors and over 100 artists and craftsmen throughout the South showcasing original and unique works of art, photographs, stained glass windows, handmade jewelry, plants, gourmet pickles and jellies, clothing, toys, woodworking products, pottery and other arts and crafts treasures. This year expect an extensive music line up, a more traditional blend of food vendors capturing the flavors of the local Creole cuisine and new innovative artisans to join the line-up.

April 26-30, 2017, Beaufort Wine and Food Weekend, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortWineAndFood.com
Beaufort Wine and Food is a non-profit that has been celebrated for over 12 years and during that time has become one of the Eastern NC’s premier culinary and tourism events. Since its inception in 2004, Beaufort Wine and Food has raised over $450,000 for charities and non-profits, donating over $80,000 to 19 organizations from its 2015 April festival alone. The multitude of events held during the five-day festival each April range from intimate wine dinners, to the crowd favorite Vin de Mer, where guests are immersed in a culinary tour de force offering 300 wine labels and cuisine from dozens of local and regional restaurants all paired together in perfect harmony. Wine and culinary talent from around the world come together in the historic seaside town of Beaufort, NC, all in the name of charity.

April 27-29, 2017, 96th Annual Rose Show and Festival, Thomasville, GA, www.ThomasvilleGA.com
Held in beautiful, historic downtown Thomasville, the Rose Festival has been a Southwest Georgia tradition since the 1920’s. Enjoy roses, roses and more roses, plus four flower shows, two evening parades, live music and street dance featuring the “Swingin’ Medallions,” fireworks, fabulous car and truck show, plain air painting and sale, golf tournament, 10K, arts & crafts in Paradise Park, fantastic food and so much more. Plus, most of the events are free! Enjoy Due South on Saturday night pairing bountiful local foods, chefs, makers and music for a lively event in Downtown Thomasville.

April 27-30, 2017, Vidalia Onion Festival 2017, Vidalia, GA, http://www.VidaliaOnionFestival.com
Each spring, Vidalia anticipates the harvest of Georgia’s Official State Vegetable, the internationally known Vidalia Sweet onion. The occasion is celebrated with an array of fun-filled activities. The Vidalia Onion Festival has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as on of the Five Don’t Miss Festivals Across the U.S. by MSNBC. The festival is a four-day event that offers something for everyone. Pre-festival activities begin with the Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant and the Culinary Extravaganza. The Children’ Parade and Movie Under the Stars take place on Thursday evening Friday brings the Opening Ceremonies with a Street Dance and fireworks. Additional weekend events include arts and crafts, carnival, onion eating contest, recipe contest and public tasting and the Chuck Wagon Cook-Off. This year the famous VOF Air Show returns with two days of aerobatic performers, static displays, helicopter rides, skydiving and hot air balloons.

April 28-30, 2017, Pensacola Crawfish Creole Fiesta, Pensacola, FL, www.FiestaOffiveFlags.org
Come hungry to the Pensacola Crawfish Creole Fiesta. Held in the historic waterfront Bartram Park, this event boasts 16,000 pounds of crawfish! The fiesta is an annual celebration of the Cajun influence in the Northwest Florida community. This is one of the largest crawfish boils in the state, with authentic bayou country entertainment. Enjoy watching or chowing down in the crawfish eating competition, listen to live music and enjoy activities for the whole family.

April 28-30, 2017, Westlake Family Fun & Food Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Established in 1992, the Westlake Family Fun & Food Festival started as a small town festival bringing the community together for good times with family and friends. Over the years, the festival has grown in size and popularity and people from all around the world join in on the fun-filled weekend, with activities for the young, or just the young at heart, everyone will love the games, train rides, moon walks and more. And no festival would be complete without great food! Attendees are always lining up for more gumbo, catfish, sausage on a stick, Boudin and the famous Bosco Burgers. With spring flowers blooming and free admission there’s no reason not to get out and enjoy the fun at this family-friendly favorite.

April 29-30, 2017, Main Street Festival, Franklin, TN, www.FranklinMainStreetFest.com
Voted Williamson county’s favorite event nine years in a row, Main Street Festival is a free outdoor street festival that takes place in historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee. With a crowd of about 120,000, this is one of Tennessee’s largest festivals. Guests can expect over 120 arts and crafts vendors, dozens of food vendors, two full stages of live entertainment, a kids zone with fun activities and a beer garden. This year, take the taste buds on a world tour with even more food vendors to make this an international eating experience. As you walk around the festival, let your nose guide the way to King Arthur Flour’s Bake truck—which will be giving away free freshly baked cookies.

April 30, 2017, 30th Annual Town of Mount Pleasant Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival, Mount Pleasant, SC, ExperienceMountPleasant.com
The Annual Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival pays tribute to local Shem Creek shrimpers and fishermen, offering a ceremonial boat parade where captains receive prayer for a safe and bountiful season. Overlooking beautiful Charleston Harbor in the picturesque Memorial Waterfront Park, the festival is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year for seafood lovers. In addition to the boat parade, participants are treated to savory samplings from some of Mount Pleasant’s favorite restaurants, live music, an arts & crafts show, shag-dancing, shrimp-eating contests and family-friendly activities. Free admission activities and parking shuttles are available. Food and event memorabilia are available for purchase with sales benefitting local charities. Fleet Week leading up to the event day is filled with fun activities throughout the town of Mount Pleasant.

May 4-14, 2017, Contraband Days, Louisiana Pirate Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
When you ask someone about festivals in Southwest Louisiana, the Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival usually is the first to come to mind. Unique to Lake Charles, the annual festival celebrates the legend of pirate Jean Lafitte. The story goes that pirate Jean Lafitte docked his boat right on the sandy shore of Lake Charles and buried his treasure somewhere along its banks. Venture down to the newly remodeled Lake Charles Civic Center seawall and visit with the modern-day “pirates,” in full regalia on boats out on the lake. On the first night, witness the cannon fire as the citizens of Lake Charles try to defend the seawall only to have the pirates capture the mayor, put him on trial and force him to walk the plank. Pirates of all ages are encouraged to come out during the two-week long festival with carnival rides, games and live music. Past performers include Grammy Award Winners Terrance Simien and Jo-El Sonnier and country super-star Josh Turner. For some good eats, head on over to the delicious Barbecue Cook-Off. Try your hand at the Firefighter Combat Challenge. You can also participate in activities from arm wrestling, to cycling the Tour Lafitte, running the 5-miler, or building your very own pirogue boat. Throw on your best eye patch and enter one of the costume contests or join in one of the pirate parades. The festival closes with spectacular fireworks over beautiful Lake Charles.

May 4, 2017, Taste of Alpharetta, Alpharetta, GA, http://www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com/what-to-do/taste-of-alpharetta/
The Taste of Alpharetta is an event visitors love and locals can’t get enough of. Dining in downtown Alpharetta at 60+ restaurants from around the local area has been a family tradition for 27 years. Attendees sample delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts from the top chefs in town. Foodies in attendance will enjoy culinary demonstrations bites that are sure to please every palate. The Music Stage will have harmonic rock/folk/R&B bands. A separate Culinary Competitions Stage will pair top area chefs against one another in five categories: Best Appetizer/Salad, Best Fast Casual, Best Fine Dining, Best Presentation and Best Dessert.

May 5-6, 2017, Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival, Meridian, MS, www.JimmieRodgersMusicFestival.com
The Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival is a showcase for contemporary artists of the Americana roots music genres of folk, bluegrass, country, gospel and blues. The festival was founded in 1953 when Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb spearheaded an effort to pay tribute to Jimmie Rodgers on the 20th anniversary of his death. Elvis Presley, Faith Hill and Merle Haggard have all appeared at the festival. Over the last two years, the show has featured performances by Jason Isbell, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Lone Bellow, Keller Williams, Lucinda Williams and many others. Held the first weekend of May in downtown Meridian on City Hall Green, the festival features two stages of music, a food court with Southern delicacies, a talent show and classic car show.

May 5-6, 2017, Main Steet Jazzfest 2017, Murfreesboro, TN, www.MainStreetJazzFest.net
Main Street JazzFest is a free, family-friendly, two-day music festival held in Murfreesboro’s historic downtown public square. The main stage performances on Saturday range from local jazz talent to well-known regional artists and exceptional national headline performances. On Friday evening, JazzFest showcases all nine high school jazz bands in Rutherford County on the Main Stage. JazzFest gives many high school students an exciting and highly anticipated opportunity to perform in front of a live audience. Large crowds attend Friday’s performances and return Saturday for more music and fun. On Saturday, many area middle schools perform along with schools from across the state. There’s also a Jazz Workshop featuring several professional jazz artists, facilitated by MTSU faculty. JazzFest also features a special children’s area known as Kids Alley and great food.

May 5-6, 2017, Market Street Festival, Columbus, MS, www.MarketStreetFestival.com
The Market Street Festival began in 1996 and has become the largest community festival in Lowndes County. Taking place in historic downtown Columbus the first weekend in May each year, this diverse, quality event celebrates its 22nd year in 2017. Between 38,000-40,000 gatherers enjoy the two-day festival each year. Peruse over 225 arts and crafts vendors, 30 food vendors and dozens of special events and activities for the entire family. Market Street Festival also features four entertainment stages showcasing over 20 musical acts throughout the weekend, a car show, tractor display, a hands-on children’s area, inflatables, high powered wings, pony rides, a petting zoo, train rides and various other activities for all ages and demographics. The festival kicks off on Friday evening with ‘Market Street After Dark’, a concert held on the banks of Tennessee Tombigbee River at the beautiful Columbus Riverwalk. The Riverwalk, which is within walking distance to downtown, is the perfect venue for the Friday night festival. There will be food and drink vendors, musical entertainment and “Mother Goose,” a local hero. Saturday morning starts bright and early with a 5k Fun Run and the Columbus Riverwalk and WCBI-TV hosts a “Crank It Up” car giveaway later in the day.

May 6-7, 2017, The Cotton Pickin’ Fair, Gay, GA, www.CPFair.org
The Cotton Pickin’ Fair is Georgia’s original AgriTourism event. It began back in 1972 on a 188-year-old farm as a single family’s community economic development project. A declining farm economy, a very poor cattle market and the opening of I-185 from LaGrange to Columbus, gave birth to an idea that would supplement farm income and keep the town of Gay in the public eye as an upscale antique center. Today, over two million visitors have enjoyed the work of the best artisans, antique specialists and craftsmen from across the U.S. and Canada every May and October. This May, enjoy a tour of the historic Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge. Freed Slave and famous builder Horace King constructed the bridge in 1840. It is the oldest and longest wooded covered bridge in Georgia. Bring home treasures to cherish, both antiques and memories, at The Cotton Pickin’ Fair.

May 6, 2017, Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival, Smithfield, NC, www.HamAndYam.com
The Ham & Yam Festival began in 1985 as a challenge from seven country ham producers in Johnston County, North Carolina to the ham producers of Smithfield, Virginia. As Johnston County is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, it is fitting for the festival to honor the agricultural heritage of the area. The festival now features a barbecue cook-off, which attracts great cooks from throughout the region to compete for cash prizes. Attendees can find many varieties of hams and yams at the festival—barbeque from the cook-off, country ham biscuits, hot dogs, ham tortas, sweet potato cheesecake pies, sweet potato ice cream, sweet potato lemonade and smoothies, sweet potato funnel cakes, baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato cupcakes, sweet potato fries and more! The festival hosts the “What’s the Yam Thing?” the contest is a favorite for school-aged children given the opportunity to turn sweet potatoes into works of arts. Visitors wander through more than 175 booths in the festival area where local nonprofits raise money for their organizations and vendors sell arts and crafts and a variety of other merchandise. The family-friendly event keeps crowds entertained with performances on three stages, inflatables, children’s games, pig races and more.


May 6, 2017, 43rd Annual Wooden Boat Show, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortWoodenBoatShow.com
Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or prefer to keep your feet on dry land, the 43rd Annual Wooden Boat Show has activities for all ages. This free event celebrates the art of North Carolina traditional wooden boatbuilding and the sport of boat racing. Dozens of handcrafted wooden boats will be on display, along with nautical demonstrations, and activities for children. Set sail in a traditional wooden boat, discover the hidden secret behind ships-in-a-bottle, or practice your boating skills in the Virtual Trainer. Don’t forget to stop by the vendors and of course visit all of our wooden boat exhibits. Wooden boat owners come from all over to be a part of the Beaufort Wooden Boat Show.

May 11, 2017, Gatlinburg Beans n’ Cornbread Festival, Gatlinburg, TN, https://www.Gatlinburg.com/event/gatlinburg-beans-and-cornbread-festival/
Gatlinburg celebrates its Appalachian culinary past with the Gatlinburg Beans n’ Cornbread Festival. This scrumptious event features a Beans and Cornbread Cook-Off, antique engines and lots of beans and cornbread for the tasting. Area restaurants, businesses and caterers will prepare traditional and original beans and cornbread recipes for tasting while vying for top honors in the cook-off. This evening festival is from 5:00 p.m.- 8 p.m. on the Parkway. The festival is free, attendees can purchase a spoon for $10 and sample recipes from all booths while supplies last. Children ages 7 and under can sample for free.

May 12-14, 2017, Artisphere, Greenville, SC, http://Artisphere.org/
Artisphere’s three-day spring event includes indoor and outdoor performances and visual arts exhibitions throughout downtown Greenville. Artisphere makes the arts accessible to all Greenville residents and visitors showcase the community’s dynamic and diverse cultural scene. Artisphere consistently receives national accolades: ranking #17 out of the “100 Best Art Shows” in the country by Sunshine Artists Magazine, landing in the Top 10 Fine Arts and Craft festival by the Art Fair Sourcebook and placing #3 out of 20 finalists in USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Art Festival. This year look for Artist Row, which will consists of over 120 artists selling original works. Swing by Culinary Arts Café Stage, featuring local and regional singer/songwriters and jazz musicians. Take a seat at the Artisphere Main Stage, showcasing nationally known performers alongside local performing groups and don’t miss the Art Lab, which will have local artists demonstrating craft activities such as bookmaking, pottery, painting and weaving. Come see why more than 95,000 people attended Artisphere last year.

May 13, 2017, 8th Annual Live Oak Arts Festival, Pascagoula, MS,
https://www.facebook.com/loafpascagoula/
The 2017 Live Oak Arts Festival will be a true homecoming for coastal residents and a grand welcoming to visitors. The one-day festival features live music with a regional headliner. The 2017 festival will return to its roots, literally and artistically, inviting artists to celebrate the historic oaks that adorn Pascagoula. The fest will offer crowd favorites, such as the antique car show and new elements with a historical tour of homes and oaks to be offered throughout the historic district. Expect fun for the whole family and great shopping from local artists and coastal businesses.

May 18-21, 2017, Chesapeake Jubilee, Chesapeake, VA, https://ChesapeakeJubilee.org/
The Chesapeake Jubilee is a four-day event featuring local bands and national artists on two stages, an exquisite variety of foods to satisfy everyone’s tastes and lots of quality affordable family fun. World-class entertainment, carnival rides and amazing fireworks abound at this springtime celebration. Enjoy a diverse arts and crafts show, jugglers, mimes, cloggers, a Kid’s Korner and the world famous Chesapeake Jubilee-Kansas City Barbeque Society’s BBQ Cook-Off. Top entertainers have included Willie Nelson, Trace Adkins, Chuck Berry, The Commodores, Conway Twitty, Travis Tritt among many others.

May 18, 26, June 2, 9, 2017, Downtown At Sundown—Outdoor Concert Series, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Downtown at Sundown is an annual outdoor music and art event occurring mid May to early June over the course of four consecutive Friday evenings. Each concert features different local or regional artists performing favorite music genres of the region such as Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp-Pop and Classic Rock. The event also offers food and beverage booths, tabletop galleries, art sales and activities for the kids. The event was designed to attract business people and tourists downtown for entertainment in the ongoing revitalization of the area. The estimated number of attendees is more than 2,000 each week. In addition to the heightening awareness and appreciation of the artistic and musical talent in Southwest Louisiana, the event has also contributed greatly to attracting residents, businesses and tourists to an area undergoing revitalization.

May 18-20, 2017, Starks Mayhaw Festival, Starks, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.com
Like Peanut butter and Jelly, the Starks Mayhaw Festival and spring go hand in hand. And speaking of jelly, this is the place for it! Mayhaw jelly, Mayhaw butter, Mayjaw berries and more—the Starks Mayhaw Festival has it all. Festivalgoers can try their hand at jelly-making or try to catch a glimpse of the Mayhaw Queen and her court. With carnival rides, live music, delicious Southern food and enough berries and jelly to go around, the whole family will have something to celebrate. The festival kicks off Thursday afternoon at the corners of Highways 109 and 12. On Saturday morning, early birds will be able to start their morning off right with hot biscuits, homemade Mayhaw jelly and freshly churned butter. Making the festival even sweeter—free admission!

May 20-21, 2017, Trail of Honor, Jackson, MS, www.TrailOfHonor.org
The Trail of Honor is a living history tribute to America’s Veterans, past and present. This Mississippi-based event began in 2003 and has grown into a nationally recognized event staffed by almost 400 living historians and volunteers. Over 35,000 visitors were in attendance in 2016, which was the fourteenth anniversary of the Trail of Honor event. Visitors to this Military/Veteran’s celebration enjoy historically accurate demonstrations of military life from America’s storied past. Re-enactments span a vast period of time from the French and Indian War in the mid-1700’s to the recent and ongoing War on Terrorism. Living historians display the uniforms, weapons, ammunition, rations and equipment of the era they represent. Army Aviation Heritage Foundation has again committed their entire fleet of air power to the event inventory for 2017, which includes: 5 Cobra Gunships, 4 Huey’s and the “Birdog” which is a fixed-wing aircraft.

May 21-June 3, 2017, Fiesta Days Celebration and Boat Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.FiestaOfFiveFlags.org
The Fiesta of Five Flags organization was formed to celebrate the founding of Pensacola. In 1559, Spanish Conquistador, Don Tristan de Luna, established Pensacola as the first European settlement in the United States. Since that time five different flags have flown over the City: Spanish, French, British, Confederate, and American. The Fiesta celebration begins with a light-hearted re-enactment of the surrender of the city to Spanish explore Don Tristan Deluna and is immediately followed by an evening of outdoor musical entertainment.

May 26, September 4, 2017, Rock City’s Summer Music Weekends, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/summermusic
Enjoy some of the best toe-tapping old time, blue grass and country music all summer long at Rock City’s Summer Music Weekends. Also try some delicious southern cuisine at Café 7 during Summer Music Weekends. Activities include Walk in Frieda’s Footsteps Tour, making Aunt Frieda’s fire fly jars and some 1930’s Americana all around. Returning this year are the amazing Birds of Prey Shows. Experience these powerful and majestic birds up close. New in 2017, expect new live performers to entertain the crowds.

May 27-29, 2017, Alpharetta Arts Streetfest, Alpharetta, GA, www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com
Each year downtown Alpharetta turns into an art exhibit featuring almost 100 artists from across the U.S. Festival goers can stroll through the outdoor gallery, meet the artists and acquire an original piece of artwork. Artists featured represent a wide variety of mediums including mixed media, photography, pottery, jewelry, textiles, glass, wood, metal and paper art. This much anticipated festival will also feature live music, cultural arts performances, entertaining children’s activities, and a variety festival cuisine.

May 27-28, 2017, Garden Jubilee, Hendersonville, NC, http://www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.com/?s=garden+jubilee
The Annual Garden Jubilee Festival has been the place for one-stop shopping for garden lovers for over 20 years in Downtown Hendersonville. Garden Jubilee is Hendersonville’s premier lawn & garden show, and one of the largest gardening shows in the Western North Carolina. The two-day Festival is held on Saturday, May 27 & Sunday, May 28 of Memorial Day weekend. Garden Jubilee highlights more than 260 vendors’ spaces lining Main Street. Local and regional nurseries will be selling 1000’s of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and hard to find plants on every block of the festival. Crafters create distinctive garden art to enhance the beauty of your yard. There will be handmade lawn furniture, jewelry, garden tools, yard art, planters, wind chimes, birdhouses, as well as soaps and pottery. If you have a question or need advice about your garden or lawn, you’ve come to the right place. National product representatives from Oldcastle, Stay Green, Scotts, Miracle-Gro, Ortho, Roundup, Cutter, Pennington Lawn & Garden Products, and Hot Shot will be available in their tents giving out free samples and helpful tips. The Lowe’s Kids Clinic located at the Visitors Center will offer fun, free hands-on projects for children ages 4-12, from 10am-4pm both days.

June 1-4, 2017, The Great American Brass Band Festival, Danville, KY, www.GABBF.org
The Brass Band Festival is a free four-day event featuring live world renowned brass music, an Americana style parade, a Saturday night picnic, free children’s activities, a swing dance, quilt show, yoga in the park, a 5K run and New Orleans’ style street party. 2016 was the debut year of the Great American Art Festival featuring local and national artists and a Kids Art Fest. The success in 2016 of the Art Festival ensures it will be returning for 2017. Attendees of the Festival enjoy the small town atmosphere of Danville, Kentucky while listening to live brass music and enjoying a variety of eats and treats from the Food Village. This Brass Band Festival is the only one of its kind in the country and twenty-eight years in, it feels like the feels like the festival is just beginning to hit its brass stride.

June 1-4, 2017, Herndon Festival, Herndon, VA, www.HerndonFestival.net
The 37th annual Herndon Festival, scheduled for June 1-4, 2017 will be held in historic downtown Herndon, Virginia. This time-honored event is a four-day outdoor festival featuring national and regional entertainment on three stages, a carnival, two fireworks displays, Kids Alley with a children’s hands-on art area, arts & crafts show, business expo, 10K/5K races and fitness expo, complimentary shuttle bus service and a wide variety of high quality food vendors. With the volunteer support of 24 organizations and a contribution of more than 1,100 volunteer hours each year, an estimated 80,000 people come to the Town of Herndon to be part of Northern Virginia’s biggest and best free event. The Herndon Festival draws form throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and provides exposure not only for Herndon’s core downtown businesses, but the hotels and restaurants throughout the area.

June 1-30, 2017, SC Festival of Flowers, Greenwood, SC, SCFestivalOfFlowers.org
The award winning South Carolina Festival of Flowers features a blooming good time saluting flowers, families and fun. The Festival was recognized by the America in Bloom organization with an achievement award in floral display last year. The Festival attracted an estimated 85,000 visitors to Greenwood during the month of June and generated an economic impact of $3,355,322. Partnering with local civic and cultural organizations, the festival provides quality family entertainment to the community. More than 20 events take place during the South Carolina Festival of Flowers, creating a month long list of entertainment and activities for families and visitors. Enjoy the main weekend June 2-4, which includes home garden tours, an arts and crafts show and cultural events. The festival celebrates 50 years in 2017. To celebrate, expect anew historical exhibit, “50 Blooming Years” and the Beach Dance featuring Greenwood’s favorite band, The Swingin’ Medallions.

June 1-July 13, 2017, Sounds of Summer, Columbus, MS, www.ColumbusMainStreet.com
Main Street Columbus and the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce will again partner in 2017 to provide the Sounds of Summer Concert Series, a free concert series in beautiful downtown Columbus on Thursdays in June and July. Sounds of Summer began in 2008 and is held on the banks of the Tennessee Tombigbee River at the Columbus Riverwalk Park. The picturesque park is a perfect venue for this popular event, with the background of the newly renovated Old Highway 82 Bridge. Every other Thursday evening from 7 to 9 p.m., thousands gather at the popular outdoor concert series to enjoy local musicians, cold beverages, great food, kid’s activities and the company of friends and neighbors. The diverse, quality event continues to grow in popularity each year and has become a vital element of community life for families. This event strives to provide a variety of musical genres to interest all parts of the community. Attendees bring lawn chairs and blankets, in addition to friends and family, to enjoy this free, family-friendly community event.


June 1-4, 2017, Tupelo Elvis Festival, Tupelo, MS, www.TupeloElvisFestival.com
The Tupelo Festival is a four-day festival that celebrates the life, legacy and music of Elvis Presley—Tupelo’s native son. The Tupelo Elvis Festival is the only international festival honoring Elvis Presley in the Southeast, next to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. This internationally attended festival began in 1999 and is one of only 24 festivals within the United States and abroad that is officially licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprise and includes an ultimate Elvis tribute artists contest preliminary competition. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing.

June 2, 3, 9, 20, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and July 2, 3, 9, 10, 2017, The Miracle Worker Play, Tuscumbia, AL, www.HelenKellerBirthPlace.org/miracleworker/helenkellermiracleworker.htm
“The Miracle Worker” play, Alabama’s official outdoor drama continues to inspire and captivate audiences from around the world every June through mid-July since 1961. Williams Gibson’s play dramatizes the efforts of teacher Anne Sullivan to open the world of communication to 7-year-old blind and deaf Helen Keller. The production takes place at the outdoor amphitheater on the grounds of Helen Keller’s birthplace. A self-guided tour of the home is included in play admission, with original furnishings of the Keller family home are intact. Highlights of this home-museum are Miss Keller’s personal mementos, books and gifts from her lifetime of travel and lectures for the betterment of the worlds blind and deaf-blind.

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The highly anticipated Sweetgrass festival celebrates the rich Gullah Geechee cultural heritage and provides the most extensive showcase of sweetgrass baskets in the area. This festival will include an assortment of Gullah Geechee skits, storytelling, folklore music, dance, children performers along with demonstrations and lecture on the history of sweetgrass basket making in the Lowcountry. Enjoy a variety of children and family activities as well as delicious Lowcountry Gulla Geechee foods. (*This event was initially posted for March)

June 4, 11, 18 & 25, July 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30, 2017, Ida Cox Music Series, Toccoa, GA, www.IdaCoxMusicSeries.com
The Ida Cox Music Series honors the legacy of famous Taccoan Blues singer, Ida Cox, by bringing quality live entertainment to Historic Downtown Toccoa in June and July. Featuring street music, delicious local food, beverages and a diverse population, the Ida Cox Music Series is a fun and free event. The Ida Cox Music Series spotlights talented local and regional artists and musicians and features a diverse selection of music genres from bluegrass and country, to rock-and-roll, to its namesakes staple of funk and soul. The Ida Cox Music Series is a free celebration of the talent and dedication the residents of Toccoa have toward furthering entertainment and tourism in Northeast Georgia.

June 5-11, 2017, 21st Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, Biloxi, MS, http://mgcbc.com/
Hundreds of anglers converge on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for this premier sport fishing event. Vessels ply the billfish-rich waters off the coast to compete for more than $1,000,000 in cash and prizes. The weeklong event features nightly dock parties, captains banquet, a golf outing and live entertainment for spectators at the weigh scales Friday and Saturday evenings. 2017 will include an award that the MGCBC participants have never seen before: a $100,000 cash award for the heaviest swordfish to break the Mississippi State record!

June 8-10, 2017, Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day, Cumberland Gap, TN, www.GenealogyJamboree.us/
In June, history will come alive in the streets of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The Cumberland Gap Tennessee Genealogy and History group hosts the 7th annual Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day. This free, one-of-a-kind event combines genealogy with period re-enactors dressed in costumes. Craftsmen and women demonstrate their pioneer crafts an in historic setting. All these folks will be giving demonstrations and will be available for questions. There will be lectures at the Cumberland Gap Convention Center and in the streets of Cumberland Gap from nationally known speakers such as J. Mark Lowe. Many authors, genealogical and historical societies will have books and genealogy research materials for sale. Come celebrate the mountain heritage and learn about your ancestors and how they would have lived.

June 9-11, 2017, Blairsville-Scottish Festival and Highland Games, Blairsville, GA, www.BlairsvilleScottishFestival.com
The Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games will rock the town for the 14th year with everything Scottish, down by the river in the beautiful Meeks Nature Park. With Scottish blood running deep in the mountains of Appalachia, the Blairsville Scottish Festival will continue to attract revelers from June 9-11. Each year the festival tees off with a Kilted Golf Classic, a Kilted 5k Run and a Ceilidh Concert On The Square that is fun for the whole family. All weekend long you can enjoy visiting Scottish Clans, Societies, hear Pope & Drum Bands, see the Parade of Tartans, a Mini Cooper car parade, dancers, musicians, Highland animals, vendors, Scottish food, kids games and heritage searches. The Kirkin’ of the Tartans highlights Sunday’s entertainment along with the competitions, clan contests and so much more. The Blairsville Scottish Festival, the premier festival in the North Georgia area, places an emphasis on family entertainment all weekend long.

June 9-11, 2017, North American Sand Soccer Championships, Virginia Beach, VA, www.SandSoccer.com
The North American Sand Soccer Championships is a premier sand soccer event that is in its 24th year of competition. This is a charity event hosted by the Roads Soccer Council to generate funds for the continued development of a private, 75-acre soccer complex serving athletes of all ages and skill level in Virginia Beach. The event draws in 10,000 players from recreational to professionals and thousands more fans, spectators, vendors, media and sponsors. Participants plan and are eager to return year-to-year while spectators find the festival to be an awesome kick-off to summer with its lively atmosphere. Accepted teams arrive and register Friday evening at the Convention Center. Earlier Friday, Pro/Am competition has already begun in the sand stadium nearby. On Saturday and Sunday, across 19 city blocks on the sand, over 62 additional fields are spread north and south where teams of all ages compete. In addition to soccer, participants and spectators will enjoy sidekick sports such as coed flag football, beach lacrosse, Knockerball, Spikeball, All-volley football and wrestling. Stop by the numerous vendors and keep your eyes peeled for beach soccer and celebrity sightings.

Jun 9-July 29, 2017, Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales, Gatlinburg, TN, https://www.Gatlinburg.com/event/smoky-mountain-tunes-tales/
Tunes & Tales is a summer-long street performance event featuring costumed musical performers, storytellers and artisans portraying characters from time periods as far back as 1800. This year, Gatlinburg will present the 12th season of Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales daily in downtown Gatlinburg. This popular seven-week event truly highlights one of Gatlinburg’s greatest assets in the walkability of the city and provides guests with an interactive, educational and entertaining experience the whole family can enjoy. The performers bring to life traditional Smoky Mountain heritage and culture in a fun and interactive way. The collection of personalities and performers arrive nightly at 6 p.m. in the center of town. Visitors witness a magical transformation of sidewalk to stage as the characters disperse along the downtown Parkway for an evening of entertainment and storytelling.

June 15-18, 2017, W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival, Henderson, KY, www.HandyBlues.org
Recognized by the KTIA Top 10 Festivals & Evens, the W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival has grown to be one of the largest and free music festivals in the nation. One can expect to hear a variety of blues styles, including gritty delta blues, smooth soul, big horn bands and Zydeco music. Other festival events include Children’s Art Camp & Umbrella Workshop, Street Strut 5K and live Music Lunch Breaks at local restaurants throughout the week. The event is a celebration of the life and legacy of Henderson resident and “Father of the Blues,” William Christopher Handy. This year cast a vote in the barbecue contest fundraiser where it’s Memphis vs. Kansas style BBQ!

June 16-25, 2017, FestivALL Charleston, Charleston, WV, www.FestivALLCharleston.com
The City of Charleston, West Virginia turns into a work of art during its FestivALL celebration. FestivALL is a multi-venue arts festival, which serves its mission to create and sustain robust arts and entertainment opportunities through year-round programming and events. The main event is the 10-day “FestivALL” celebration in June. Each year, FestivALL includes dozens of events, hundreds of performances and in 2016 collaborated with over 500 artists and arts groups on the local, regional, national and international level. This event includes exhibits from music, theater, dance, visual art, humanities and more. This year enjoy events like “Wine and All that Jazz,” a chance to sip on West Virginia’s finest grapes, dine on fine food and listen to award-winning musicians. Enjoy the “Smoke and Chili Cook-Off” or climb aboard the “River Queen Cruises,” which allows guests to enjoy the sights and sounds of FestivALL from the water.

June 16-17, 2017, The NC Blueberry Festival, Burgaw, NC, www.NCBlueberryFestival.com
The North Carolina Blueberry Festival is filled with a great source of local pride, with the entire community involved in promoting Burgaw to the world in its finest shade of blue. The Blueberry festival provides an opportunity for people to enjoy a full day of family entertainment while experiencing the southern hospitality of a small town. Enjoy over 20 events ranging from entertainment to a car show, a street fair, recipe contest, barbeque cook-off, a 5K run, special exhibits and more.

June 17, 2017, Bell Buckle RC-MoonPie Festival and 10 Mile Run, Bell Buckle, TN, http://BellBuckleChamber.com/bell-buckle-rc-moonpie-festival-general-
This wacky, fun for the whole family event celebrates the South’s original fast food—an ice cold RC Cola and a fresh MoonPie. This year’s festival will go overboard celebrating MoonPie’s 100th birthday. The day starts with the 22nd running of the RC-MoonPie certified 10-mile run. Then visitors will delight in a parade, the crowning of the festival’s new king and Queen, cloggers, music and a stage show extraordinaire. Don’t miss the games—ever hula-hoop while eating a MoonPie and Drinking an RC? Or try to power walk while balancing an RC on your head…AND eating a MoonPie. With over 75 arts and crafts booths, all day stage entertainment and the piece de resistance—serving of the World’s Largest MoonPie birthday pie—no wonder Bell Buckle has had governors, country music stars, authors, dignitaries, world champions and so many others serve as King and Queen to this quirky, fun and free event. It’s easy to see why this perennial favorite has earned multiple nods from Southern Living magazine, Food Network magazine, USA Today and more.


June 23-24, 2017, Louisiana Peach Festival, Ruston, LA, http://LouisianaPeachFestival.org/
The Louisiana Peach Festival is the largest and longest running event held in Ruston, LA. The event takes over Downtown Ruston for a weekend, where attendees can enjoy carnival rides, live music, kids’ activities, peachy goods, parade, shopping and more. Peach Festival offers something for everyone with events catering to all interests. Attendees can shop the Arts & Crafts Show that features more than 100 booths, attend the antique car show, enjoy live music from several artists/bands in Railroad Park, watch the Peach Cobbler Eating Contest, or enjoy any of the other Peach Festival activities, such as the rodeo, 5K, tennis and bass tournaments, kids’ fishing tournament or fabric art show. The Peach Festival is a huge economic driver for Ruston Lincoln Parish, producing an economic impact of $2.37 million to the community and providing the area with thousands of visitors. The community takes great pride in this event with local businesses, schools and organizations participating in the Peach Festival Parade, as Guinness World Record for Largest Peach Cobbler at the 2015 Peach festival and hosting the “Cobbler Gobbler” Peach Cobbler Eating Contest in 2016. The Louisiana Peach Festival is an iconic, beloved event in the area and only continues to grow in size and popularity with each passing year.

June 23-25, 2017, 57th Annual Old Homes Tour and Antiques Show, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortHistoricSite.org
The colonial seaport town of Beaufort, one of North Carolina’s oldest towns, hosts one of the state’s longest running tours of private historic homes, gardens, local churches, inns, art studios and meeting halls. The Old Homes & Gardens Tour is the trademark event for the town. During the tour, private homeowners welcome ticket holders in their homes and gardens. The Beaufort Historic Site features live music, special living history events depicting trades and crafts of the 19th century, as well as tours of the site’s eight historic buildings. Six of those buildings are fully and authentically restored, ranging from a primitive cottage from 1778 to the Apothecary & Doctor’s Office from 1859. Additional events throughout the weekend include concerts, tours of the Old Burying Ground, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features more than 200 graves that pre-date the Civil War tours of Beaufort aboard the BHA’s 1967 English Double-Decker Bus and an antique car show. Held in conjunction with the Beaufort Old Homes Tour, the Annual Antiques Show and Sale is held at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in neighboring Morehead City. Featuring more than 40 dealers offering a wide variety of antiques and collectibles including estate jewelry, furniture, crystal, silver, porcelain, pottery, dolls, linens, fine art as well as with impressive waterfront views, the Antiques Show and Sale is sure to have something for everyone.

June 23-24, 2017, Pirate Day In the Bay, Bay St. Louis, MS, http://mkotsh.com/
Captain Longbeard used Bay St. Louis as his hide-away while he raided British, French and Spanish Merchant ships as a trusted member of Jean Lafitte’s Pirate Navy. Once a year he would bring his men to the city, stash his loot, refurbish his boats, get his needed supplies, recruit new conscripts and have a pub crawl entertaining the young ladies of the city. Join the Krewe of Mystic Seahorse and Captain Longbeard for Pirate Day in The Bay, commemorating the annual celebration started by Captain Longbeard and his pirate crew including the Lafitte Brothers Jean and Pierre. Festivities begin Friday evening lasting through Saturday night and include a Pirate Pub Crawl, scavenger hunt, Captain Longbeard’s Pirate Proclamation, amusement rides, costume contests, pirate cruises, a parade, live entertainment and more.

June 24, 2017, Gulf Coast Shrimp & Jazz Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
This year’s event will showcase new jazz musicians, artists, events and a wide variety of shrimp and other delicious foods. The Shrimp & Jazz Festival is a vision inspired by the desire to see quality cultural change both emerging and professional in Southwest Louisiana. Lake Charles is a city steeped in a rich cultural history, with a thriving local economy that features a unique blend of music, performance and visual arts. Jazz is an important part of that history, yet Lake Charles has no Jazz station on air. Locals can only get access to jazz by satellite radio, digital technology or by visiting one of a few local venues where jazz artists perform. The goal of the festival is to attract and engage a larger jazz audience by using music and great food.

June 30-July 2, 42nd Annual 4th of July Powwow, Cherokee, NC, http://VisitCherokeeNC.com/events/detail/42nd-annual-powwow/
This event features fireworks of another kind, which means a three-day explosion of authentic American Indian music, dancing, food and festivities. Dance competitions kick off the excitement with over $60,0000 in prize money. Spectators travel cross-country to see a powwow as spectacular as this. Come see the ground erupt in a sea of twirling color at the height of tourist season. This action-packed weekend includes colorful regalia, jaw-dropping dances and music made to move you. Experience authentic tribal foods, browse traditional Indian crafts, and get an insider’s look at a rich and ancient culture. Cost is $12 daily (cash only) or just $10 when you bring and donate three cans of food.

July 1-July 5, 2017, 56th Annual Alderson 4th of July Celebration, Alderson, West Virginia, www.Alderson4th.com
The historic town of Alderson, West Virginia hosts a Fourth of July celebration that attracts upwards of 9,000 people each year. The five days are packed with activities for all. For the athlete, a 5K run, canoe races and track and field events. For the kids, an art contest, rides and a fishing derby. Music lovers will enjoy multiple live performances and a square dance. Foodies, make sure to pack an appetite because there is a hot dog eating contest, an ice cream social and a homecoming banquet. Everyone will enjoy the Grand Parade, West Virginia’s best fireworks display and the popular rubber ducky race.

July 1-14, 2017, Fantastic Fourth Celebration, Stone Mountain, GA, www.StoneMountainPark.com/Events/Fantastic-Fourth-Celebration
The Fantastic Fourth Celebration was voted the “Best Place to see Fireworks in Atlanta” by Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers, a “Must-See Fireworks Show” by USA Today and one of Reader’s Digest’s picks for “America’s Most Spectacular Fourth of July Fireworks.” Experience the Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision, a not-to-be-missed Atlanta tradition that promises to wow your family with state-of-the-art digital graphics and awe-inspiring effects. The Lasershow also features a new Drone Wars segment with iconic music, epic fireworks and jaw-dropping fire effects. Three flame cannons add a punch to the show by sending a trio of flames nearly 100 feet into the air. Plus, special fireworks spray multi-colored bursts and dance on the water at the base of the mountain. The special patriotic fireworks finale will immediately follow the Lasershow every night July 1-4!

July 3-4, 2017, July 4th Midnight Parade, Gatlinburg, TN, www.Gatlinburg.com/events
Saluting the valiant men and women of our military services, this 42nd annual showcase is the first 4th of July Parade in the nation, starting at the stroke of midnight. This Gatlinburg celebration has garnered national attention for excellence in entertainment. National Geographic Traveler Magazine named the spectacle a “Top Ten Parade to see in the US” and Livability named the parade as one of the “Five Best Fourth of July Celebrations in Smaller Cities.” The parade attracts upwards of 80,000 people each year.

July 3-9, 2017, The Greenbrier Classic, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, www.GreenbrierClassic.com
With a field of 156 PGA Tour professionals competing for a $7.1 million purse, at one of the nation’s most historic and beautiful resorts and on America’s birthday, the Greenbrier Classic is one spectacular event. Danny Lee, 2015’s young champion, could return to play against tour veterans such as Bubba Watson and Stuart Appleby. Walk around to spot Shaquille O’Neal putting on the greens during the Pro-Am Tournament. Hang out to win $100 when a golfer gets a hole-in-one at the eighteenth green. Finally, indulge in the exquisite cuisine of The Greenbrier or just enjoy the event in the cradle of the beautiful Alleghany Mountains.

July 4, 2017, 4th of July Festival at Creekside Park, Archdale, NC, https://www.Archdale-NC.gov/special-events/
This event started with a few food vendors, a band and a fireworks display. Since its humble beginnings, the 4th of July Festival at Creekside Park has grown to include pony rides, carnival rides, local vendors, educational booths and a large selection of food trucks. Ever year guests rock out with the Part Time Party band and top the night off with the best fireworks display in the area sponsored by Visit the Heart of North Carolina. This year, weather permitting expect tethered balloon rides and an increased music presence with opening band, Karolina Rose.

July 4, 2017, St Marys Independence Day Festival, St. Marys, GA, www.VisitStMarys.com/independence-day-festival.html
This hometown celebration of America’s independence is a fun-filled day offering a 5K run, patriotic parade, vendors and all day entertainment. You can watch the evening fireworks display from the waterfront park or from the river cruise on the St. Marys River. The St. Marys Kiwanis Club runs this annual event as one of many community involvement programs they participate in each year. All funds raised support local kids and senior programs.

July 4, 2017, Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue, Greenville, SC, events.greenvillesc.gov
The annual Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue Festival, which features one of the state’s largest fireworks displays, continues to be the premier July 4th event in the Upstate. This world-class celebration draws more than 50,000 festivalgoers each year. The free event features a full evening of entertainment, including live music performances on two stages, a children’s area and a variety of popular food and beverage vendors.

July 7-8, 2017, 40th Annual Uncle Dave Macon Days Festival, Murfreesboro, TN, www.UncleDaveMaconDays.com
Uncle Dave Macon Days is an award-winning music festival with a 39-year tradition in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The event is both a contest and celebration of old-time music, dance and culture. The family-friendly event is held the second weekend of July on the historic grounds at Cannonsburgh Village, the only surviving part of Tennessee’s Bicentennial project. The festival entertains 25,000 people with on-stage performances, arts and crafts demonstrations and dozens of impromptu “shade-tree pickings,” one of the festival’s most prized attractions. Each year the festival honors a well-known bluegrass and old-time act with the Trailblazer and Heritage Awards. Past winners include names like Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, Bill Monroe, Marty Stuart and Roy Acuff, just to name a few. Fans of the festival know that the recipients of these awards share their honor with the fans, drawing more people each and every year as the genre start to regain its popularity. The festival is consistently ranked as a top music event and top festival in the southeast. People travel from across the country and often times the globe to revel at this unique festival.

July 7-September 16, 2017, Ice Cream and a Moovie at Chaney’s Dairy Barn, www.ChaneysDairyBarn.com
Cool off on a hot summer’s day with fresh homemade ice cream at Chaney’s Dairy Barn—the number one ice cream parlor in the Bluegrass State according to USA Today. Every other weekend from July to September, Chaney’s projects family-friendly movies on the side of the barn for all to enjoy. Settle in with a blanket and lawn chairs at this free event. Attendance grows each year with 18,000 gallons of ice cream produced annually. Watch for a special event in August for the solar eclipse. Chaney’s also offers new self-guided barn tours that are the perfect way to introduce to kids how milk is produced.

July 8, 2017, Pensacola Beach Air Show- featuring the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, Pensacola Beach, FL www.BlueAngels.Navy.Mil
The roar of the engines, the streamers of smoke and every formation in perfect symmetry. With Pensacola as its main base, The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels put on a spectacular air show twice a year that cuts through the beautiful Pensacola skies. Venture down to Pensacola on July 8th for high-flying fun, where the Blue Angels will perform aerial acrobatics over the Gulf of Mexico. The show starts at noon and the Blue Angels fly at 2 p.m.


July 14- July 15, 2017, 38th Annual Natchitoches—NSU Folk Festival, Natchitoches, LA, https://LouisianaFolkLife.nsula.edu/
The 38th Annual Natchitoches/NSU Folk Festival held July 14-July 15 is an indoor multicultural celebration of heritage, folk art and music. Folk cultures are sustained when the torch of tradition is passed from one generation to the next. Communities are strengthened and lives are given greater meaning as masters of traditional arts share their inheritance with new tradition bearers. The 2017 Festival theme is “Keeping Tradition Alive!” celebrates the ways in which so many outstanding artists young and old are tapping into the artistry of the old ways, revitalizing and reimagining tradition, while making it their own. Enjoy regional music genres such as Cajun, French Creole, Zydeco, Blues and more. Browse regional crafts and wares like, wood carving, Czech Pysanky eggs, Spanish moss dolls, pine needle baskets and handmade furniture. Folk foods will include cracklin’, red beans and rice, gumbo, Indian tacos and of course, Natchitoches meat pies. The festival is also home to a kid station, narrative sessions and the Louisiana State Fiddle Championship. Celebrate Louisiana’s heritage, past and present at the 38th Annual Natchitoches Folk Festival.

July 14-15, 2017, Cajun Music and Food Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Can’t get enough gumbo, jambalaya or etouffee`? Head on over the 30th Annual Cajun Music and Food festival to fill up on these favorite Cajun specialties and more. Every year the festival aims to preserve Cajun culture through dancing, music and of course—food! This year, the Cracklin’ Cook-Off will be held on Saturday. Local musicians will fill the summer air with favorite Cajun tunes, while visitors enjoy craft booths, games, silent auction and a live auction. On Sunday, enjoy a Cajun French Catholic Mass, complete with a Cajun choir. The festival is held at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.

July 14-22, 2017, Kingsport Fun Fest, Kingsport, TN, www.FunFest.com
Kingsport, Tennessee is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2017. For 37 of the past 100 years, the city has celebrated each year with nine days of summertime fun. Fun Fest features over 100 different events for all ages. The festival is highly recognizable for its world famous Crazy 8’s road race, hot-air balloons, the Taste (a wide-sampling of local flavor), three nights of nationally acclaimed musicians taking the outdoor main stage and a huge fireworks finale. Each year, 120,000 people attend this highly anticipated festival.

July 14-16, 2017, Saddle Up for St. Jude, Tuscumbia, AL, www.SaddleUp4Kids.org
Since 1996, Gardiner Farms in Tuscumbia, AL has hosted the Saddle Up for St. Jude benefit trail ride, now the largest Saddle Up event in the nation. Coordinate by Circle 5 outfit, this is a fun, family-oriented, fundraising event that is based around horseback riding the third weekend in July. Come out for the day or the weekend and enjoy 3,000 acres of beautiful trails to ride on. Bring your lawn chairs to sit back and enjoy the music. Country music star Clay Walker and local musicians will take the stage Friday and Saturday nights. There will be lots of food and vendors for your pleasure as well as pony and wagon rides for the kids. Last but not least, there will be an auction with a wide variety of items ranging in value and style for your enjoyment. Bring your horse and donate $35 or bring a chair and donate $10. All proceeds benefit Children of St. Jude Research Hospital.

July 14-15, 2017, Space Camp SummerFest, Hunstville, AL, https://www.RocketCenter.com/summerfest
Space Camp SummerFest at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a time for Space Camp alumni and friends to the Center to celebrate their shared connection as space geeks. Are you a Space Camp or Aviation Challenge alumnus looking for a good reason to come back and visit? The weekend features the Space Camp Hall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony, mini Space Camp sessions, an Alumni Town Hall Meeting and a finale concert open to alumni and community members alike. The Space Camp Hall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony will be held July 14, and the concert, “Party of the Year” by the producers of Black Jacket Symphony is scheduled for July 15. This is the ultimate concert experience—guests will be singing and dancing all night long to today’s hits and classics from the last five decades, while enjoying a mesmerizing video and light show. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the perfect location to get your geek on while dancing the night away.

July 15-16, 2017, 19th Annual Butternut Creek Festival, Blairsville, GA, www.ButternutCreekFestival.com
Come enjoy this family event nestled along the shady banks of the Butternut Creek in beautiful Meeks Park. This juried show of more than 70 of the Southeast’s finest craftsmen and artists offer a variety of unique original art and hand-crafted works. Peruse one-of-a-kind household and personal wares while live music and delicious food from vendors delight the senses. The festival offers free admission, free parking and free shuttle service. Festival hours are 10 a.m.-5p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.- 4p.m. on Sunday. Funds raised at this high-quality event are used to support the arts in local schools and other art related programs.

J uly 15, 2017, Lake Charles Symphony Summer Pops, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Celebrate the classic songs of Sinatra, Davis and Martin tunes like, That’s Amore, The Lady is a Tramp, Mr. Bojangles, My Way and of course, New York, New York with brand new orchestrations. Choreographed and scripted with original Rat Pack routines, you’ll think you’re swingin’ at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Summer Pops is a popular annual tradition in the Southwest Louisiana area. Each year brings a fun and exciting introduction to those experiencing orchestral music for the first time and to those who look forward to the Summer Pops year after year. It is the Lake Charles Symphony’s hope that this show will have everyone dancing in the aisles at this family-friendly event.


July 20-22, 2017, Virginia Lake Festival “Lakefest”, Clarksville, VA, www.ClarksvilleVa.com/festivals-celebrations/virginia-lake-festival/
The third full weekend of July brings tourists, an economic boost and highlights the causes of Virginia’s Only Lakeside Town—Clarksville. The Virginia Lake Festival, also known as “Lakefest,” begins with free tethered hot air balloon rides on Thursday evening for children 12 and younger. On Friday morning, the sand sculpture artist begins creating a larger-than-life art sculpture. Around noontime, the main stage and children’s entertainment arrives as well as the crowds. That evening, the sponsors are introduced and saluted at welcoming ceremonies and a live band hits the stage and performs until 10 p.m. Saturday begins at daybreak with 11 hot air balloons flying over the festival and dipping their baskets in the lake. Main Street comes alive with an all-day juried arts & crafts show, featuring 210 venders, children’s games, antique auto show, helicopter rides, blood pressure screenings and more live music. Sunset provides another hot-air balloon display and at 9:30 p.m., boats gather on the lake and more people line the shoreline to view the spectacular fireworks. On Sunday, the hot-air balloons make one final flight over the water at daybreak. This is the event’s 40th year, expect an even grander time at “Lakefest”!

July 28-29, 2017, Marshland Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Every year the small town of Hackberry comes out of the marshes and heads over to the Lake Charles Civic Center to celebrate the landscape that makes Southwest Louisiana unique. The festival helps raise funds for 14 schools and church organizations and features exhibits, games, arts and crafts booths, food, live entertainment and is a tribute to the marshes that are famous in Southwest Louisiana area and along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. The festival offers a great way to experience authentic Louisiana culture, food and music. Bring your dancing shoes because the crowd is always on their feet. With family-friendly activities, great food and even better music, the annual Marshland Festival is a must-do while visiting this beautiful part of Louisiana. Live music begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and ends at midnight. On Saturday, the music begins at noon and goes until midnight.

August -October, 2017, Biergarten at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL, https://www.RocketCenter.com/Biergarten
Join the U.S. Space & Rocket Center for their traditional Biergarten every Thursday night from 4:30-7:30 p.m. through October. This family-friendly atmosphere is complete with music, dancing, beer and brats. More than 16,000 guests gather each season under the spectacular Saturn V rocket, the inviting Apollo Courtyard or the Apollo Terrace, which overlooks Huntsville’s “Spaceline.” This relaxing environment provides specialty craft beers and imported beers and wines from German regions, authentic German cuisine and musicians and dancers in traditional German costumes. Last year, Biergarten raised more than $17,000 for nonprofit organizations.

August 1-5, 2017, Tontitown Grape Festival, Tontitown, AR, http://www.TontitownGrapeFestival.com/
Every August since 1899, the Tontitown Grape Festival has been the scene of fun for folks of all ages. One of the biggest festivals in Northwest Arkansas, the Grape Festival draws people from all over the United States and beyond. The Grape Festival celebrates the town’s Italian heritage with great live music, a carnival, arts & crafts fair, a used book sale, a “Run for the Grapes” and the annual coronation of the Queen of the festival. Perhaps the main attraction to this Italian themed event is the food. After enjoying all of the unique festivities, chow down on an authentic spaghetti dinner. After filling up on delicious Italian comforts, burn it off by participating in a grape stomp.

August 4-5, 2017, 21st Annual Dillard Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival, Dillard, GA, http://www.Dillardbbq.org/
The Dillard Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival started in 1997 and has grown to what it is today through hard work and the efforts of many volunteers and BBQ enthusiasts from around the country. Each year people come from around nation to compete, listen to authentic Bluegrass music and to savor mouthwatering smoking meats of all kinds. The cooking rigs are a sight to behold and the vendors serving the many delicacies are some of the best in the world. This event is a Georgia Barbeque Championship Qualifier and a World Food Championship Qualifier. All proceeds benefit local charities.

August 4-5, 2017, Lewisburg Literary Festival, Lewisburg, WV, www.LewisburgLiteraryFestival.com
The Lewisburg Literary Festival is a vibrant two-day event that features visiting authors, outdoor art and music and performance art, all inspired by literature. Lewisburg is transformed into a scene out of a play with outdoor book themed art installations which attendees enjoy as they stroll through downtown. Writers from as far away as Seattle join local and regional authors for book signings and readings, as well as writing workshops. Even the littlest of readers are included at children’s book breakfast and book readings by favorite children’s characters and authors. Former featured authors have included Kathryn Stockett, who penned “The Help” and Homer Hickam, Jr., who wrote “The Rocket Boys.”

August 4-5, 2017, Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair, Burnsville, NC, www.YanceyChamber.com
The Annual Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair is held in the Town Square in Burnsville, North Carolina on the first Friday and Saturday of August. With approximately 200 juried crafts, this event more than qualifies as a craft shopper’s paradise. Over 20,000 people attend this event each year, searching for those special, one-of-a-kind items created by Blue Ridge area artisans. Shoppers browse a wide selection of treasures, including handmade quilts, jewelry, hand-turned wooden household goods, various types of pottery, art fabrics, rustic furniture, traditional mountain musical instruments, blacksmith creations, candles, soaps and all kinds of artwork. Have a seat and watch as the artisans produce their craft throughout the day. Enjoy a lunch of Southern favorites like barbeque and sweet tea on the square. Watch live performances, as musicians, cloggers and dancers take over the stage. Step back into the past as you enjoy an old-fashioned town square event that exhibits Southern Hospitality at its best.

August 10-12, 2017, 18th Annual Bargains Galore on 64, Arkansas, http://BargainsGaloreOn64.org/
The River Valley of Arkansas is proud to host another Bargains Galore on 64—a true yard sale extravaganza. This unique event includes 160 miles of yard sales. Peruse antiques, collectibles and flea markets from Fort Smith past Conway to Beebe, Arkansas. This annual event is held on Thursday through Saturday, the second weekend in August. Designated as a “Travel Treasure” by Southern Traveler magazine, the event draws family vacationers, dealers, buyers and sellers alike. Enjoy the bargains, friendly atmosphere and the beautiful vistas that prevail. Come and join in the fun of selling, buying, or both, along this antiques and “stuff” along this shop-a-holics highway.

August 10-19, 2017, State Fair of West Virginia, Fairlea, WV, www.StateFairofWV.com
The State Fair of West Virginia is the quintessential summer activity. The offerings run from the agricultural to the acrobatic, in the largest multi-day celebration in West Virginia. The State Fair of West Virginia constantly reinvents its successful formula with a new theme each year and new performances and exhibits. Each year features special ticketed performances by big name musical acts, which in past years have included the iconic country band, Alabama and popular Bluegrass singer, Allison Krauss. The free family entertainment also changes yearly with past popular acts featuring dare-devil motorcyclists, trained wolves, magic acts and wild tigers. Many aspects of the fair are tried and true and are considered tradition by attendees, such as the taste of a Ben Ellen Doughnut, a ride on the Ferris wheel, a walk through the barns and the spectacular fireworks. Everyone is sure to find something to love in the great variety of food, rides, exhibits and family entertainment.

August 10-13, 2017, The Richmond Jazz Festival, Richmond, VA, https://www.facebook.com/richmondjazzfestival/
As one of the largest music festivals on the East Coast, the Richmond Jazz Festival has quickly become one of the city's biggest attractions. Every year, the festival boasts a lineup of top Grammy Award-winning, international and national artists representing a myriad of genres. Past artists have included: David Sanborn, Pat Martino, Kamasi Washington, Jill Scott, Dr. John, Chaka Khan, Lauryn Hill, Natalie Cole, and many more. Along with unforgettable musical performances, weekend activities include wine tastings, chef demonstrations, a cigar lounge, artist meet & greets, exclusive access to the exotic gardens at Maymont and a huge marketplace of food and merchandise vendors.

August 11-13, 2017, The 48 Hour Film Project, Paducah, KY, http://www.48hourfilm.com/paducah-ky
The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie—write, shoot, and edit— in just 48 hours. On Friday night, teams draw a genre from a hat. They are then given a character, prop and line to include in their films. On Sunday night, in a wild dash to the drop off event, the film is turned in - and teams celebrate. The film is then screened at a local theater in front of an audience of filmmakers, friends and families. The festival is part of a larger international competition including more than 120 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas where over 60,000 people will make short films. Filmmakers from all over the Paducah, KY area will compete to see who can make the best short film in only 48 hours. The winning film will go up against films from around the world at Filmapalooza 2018 for a chance at the grand prize and an opportunity to screen at the Cannes Film Festival 2018, Court Métrage.

August 12, 2017, Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights, Jackson, MS, www.GreaterBelhaven.com
Come enjoy this annual street festival promoting the Greater Belhaven historic neighborhood, one of the original and most unique neighborhoods of Jackson, Mississippi. The festival provides venues to showcase art forms including visual arts, live music performed by Belhaven residents and serves to attract people to this historic neighborhood. Activities include, shopping at artisan booths, children’s area, dancers and musical acts. There are three stages of music with a variety of styles including blues, jazz, brass band, acoustic singer-songwriters and indie rock. The children’s area offers various arts-based activities, space jumps, activities from local museums and live animals from the local Natural Science Museum. Food vendors come from the delicious neighborhood restaurants. Through community effort, the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood transforms Carlisle Street into New Stage Theatre and Kenwood Street into the twinkling and exciting street festival that is, Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights.


August 12-13, 2017, Bluegrass in the Park & Folklife Festival, Henderson, KY, www.BlueGrassInThePark.com
One of the oldest on-going free Bluegrass festivals in the United States, Bluegrass in the Park hosts two days of family fun activities. Enjoy bluegrass music, historic folk activities, pole vaulting and great food, all with a beautiful riverfront view. Last year’s new Thursday night kickoff featuring Hispanic Bluegrass and culture experience was a hit! Live mariachi music and authentic food from a local Mexican restaurant provided a diverse atmosphere. This year, expect a wide mix of Americana, Folk and Bluegrass to fill the summer air.

August 16-20, 2017, Smoky Mountain Songwriter’s Festival, Gatlinburg, TN, www.SMSWF.com
Join in “Celebrating Our Appalachian Musical Roots” at the 6th annual Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – The Gateway to The Great Smoky Mountains where bluegrass, country and ole time music originated! The mission of The Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival is to bring songwriters, music professionals and music lovers together for the enjoyment of learning, sharing, and preserving the craft of the song. Expect original performances from the songwriters themselves to fill venues for four days throughout Gatlinburg. You will recognize many of these songs from the “Hit” lists on the radio. The songwriter not only performs, but also tells you the story behind the song. The SMSWF proudly promotes songwriters—helping their songs to be discovered by publishers and producers. Bring your instruments and your songs or just yourself as one who appreciates good music. There will be open jam spots available for all musicians.

August 19, 2017, Girls Night Out, Charleston, WV, www.GNOWV.com
Girls Night Out is the season’s biggest party with a purpose: women helping women through power, passion and raising funds and awareness to eliminate domestic violence. Now attracting more than 1,000 women from the tri-state area, GNO is a party women don’t want to miss. Local restaurants prepare their tastiest bites and male volunteers wait on guests with signature cocktails, beer or wine from the open bar. Photo opportunities abound, as GNO is widely known for its stunning décor. This year’s theme: Be Boho Chic, Live Violence Free. Inside the event, guests can shop a beautifully staged silent auction of over 100 items and dance the night away to live DJ entertainment.

August 19, 2017, Arts & Crabs Fest, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Each August, Arts & Crabs Fest features an extensive crab and beer tasting, an art walk and live music, which offer an interactive and educational experience of Southwest Louisiana’s seafood and culture. This popular event sells out every year. As one of Louisiana’s three crab festivals, the event aims to celebrate the ties between Louisiana seafood and culture. That’s why the festival offers a comprehensive experience of Southwest Louisiana’s best food, music and art. Tickets range from $30-$36 and festivalgoers can access an extensive crab and beer tasting which will feature ten restaurants each. Every restaurant offers a crab dish that is representative of their cuisine’s styles and personalities. Typical dishes will include crab cakes, crab au gratin, crab ceviche and crab gazpacho. Each crab dish is paired with a complementary beer sample. Similar to a wine pairing, each Louisiana beer will enhance each dish’s unique flavors and textures.

August 19, 2017, 30th Annual Dancin’ in the Streets, Stuart, FL, www.StuartDancinInTheStreets.com
Located in the “Happiest Seaside Town in America,” the 30th Annual Dancin’ in the Streets festival is the longest running and most popular music event in the Treasure Coast region. This street party and music festival will take place on five stages with over twenty bands and three national headliners (to be announced) from 3 p.m.- midnight. Every year, the streets of Downtown Stuart shut down and the community comes out for a day of live musical performances, food, drinks, vendors, kid activities and of course—dancin’ in the streets. This year expect a silent disco, upgraded seating along the RiverWalk and a d Kid’s festival.

August 25-26, 2017, FunkFest Beach Party- featuring Africana Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, VA, http://www.BeachStreetUSA.com/festivals/funkfest-beach-party-featuring-africana-virginia-beach
The FunkFest Beach Party features music by influential legends such as James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton and The Ohio Players. Funk is an American musical style that originated in the mid-to-late 1960’s when African-American musicians blended soul music, soulful jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground. This free event will take place on a beach stage at 24th Street. Food, merchandise and dance contests all contribute to a festive, funky vibe.

August 25-September 13, 2017, Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational, Watkinsville, GA, www.OCAF.com
The Oconee Cultural Arts foundations’ Annual Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational is one of the largest pottery events in the southeast region. Showcasing works of 50 invited Georgia potters, the twenty-day event begins with an evening gala and opening reception on Friday, August 25. Gala attendees will enjoy delicious food, live jazz and have the opportunity to preview and purchase from the many fine works available. Three exhibitions will be featured, as well as a sales venue offering over 7,000 pieces of original, hand-made pottery. Other facets of this annual event include a pottery workshop instructed by an internationally known Japanese artist Izumi Naoki, free pottery demonstrations, gallery talks and an entrepreneurial workshop on the business of being an artist.

August 26-28, 2017, Alabama Veterans Reunion, Tuscaloosa, AL, www.AlabamaVeteransReunion.com
The Alabama Veterans Reunion is the only statewide veterans and family reunion for the men and women who have proudly defended our nation. It is a weekend that showcases appreciation and gratitude for the many heroes in Alabama with dinners and festivities. Because of this event, leaders created a statewide initiative, My VA Alabama. Expect a mixer with great music and food, explore the grounds of one of the state’s finest VA facilities while munching on lunch provided by Chick-Fil-A, a ticketed dinner at NorthRiver Yacht Club and a self-guided tour of Tuscaloosa’s Civil War History and Veteran’s Memorial Park. Enjoy these unique events while connecting with other veterans and service members.

August 26, 2017, Summerfest, York, SC, https://www.YorkSummerfest.com/
Celebrating over 30 years, Summerfest is a one-day festival held on the fourth Saturday of August in York, South Carolina. Summerfest provides entertainment for the whole family and admission is free. Shop the craft fair, eat in the food court and enjoy the classic car shows. Athletes will love competing in the 10K, 5K, fun runs, and golf, softball and tennis tournaments. Enjoy children’s activities, train rides, waterball, zip lines, robotics demonstrations and a health fair. Take part in all of the fun while listening to live music from several stages, including a country music contest.

August 31-September 4, 2017, Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, Morgan City, LA, www.ShrimpAndPetroleum.org
Louisiana’s oldest chartered harvest festival is scheduled to celebrate 82 years of tradition and family fun this Labor Day Weekend. The Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival will be held in Morgan City, only 90 miles from New Orleans, Baton Rouge and LaFayette. Most festivities are held within the beautiful Downtown Historic District and are free to the general public. Great food, continuous live music, traditional events and children’s activities will highlight this five-day extravaganza. With more than 100,000 people in attendance, the festival continually wins regional awards.

September 1-October 31, 2017, Huntsville Botanical Garden Scarecrow Trail, Huntsville, AL, www.HSVBG.org
Every September through October, the Huntsville Botanical Garden becomes an autumn wonderland. The Huntsville community builds wonderful interpretations of scarecrows that are displayed throughout the botanical garden grounds. Every year, local businesses, groups, clubs and non-profits provide more and more creativity and entries exceed expectations. Children and families look forward to this garden festival all year long. Visitors stroll through the garden for the natural beauty and get the bonus of exploring the scarecrows as well. This year, expect a new pumpkin patch display along with some amazingly guiled gourds.

September 2-4, 2017, Marietta Art in the Park, Marietta, GA, www.ArtParkMarietta.com
The 31st Annual Art in the Park Festival is the largest and only fine art festival in Cobb County, Georgia. The festival features an Artist Market of 175 nationally ranked artists from around the country with fine arts and crafts available for purchase. Art in the Park offers visitors a unique opportunity to meet and talk with the artists and even see some of the work-in-progress. The family-friendly event also includes the Chalk Spot street art display, the Children’s Art Alley with plenty of free make-and-take art stations, the Monster Mural, Music Café and Food Truck Row. Located in historic downtown Marietta, Georgia, the area is rich with museums, theatres, art galleries, unique shops, boutiques and plenty of outdoor dining, all within walking distance of the festival.

September 7-10, 2017, Yellow Daisy Festival, Stone Mountain, GA, www.StoneMountainPark.com/events/yellow-daisy-festival
The Yellow Daisy Festival in Stone Mountain started out as a small arts and crafts show and has grown into a four-day extravaganza. Expect a big show with a small-town feel. The mission of re-connecting families and friends with fun, shopping, live entertainment and good food has remained a constant over the past 49 years. Multi-generations of mothers, daughters and grandmothers meander the wooded trails together in search of the perfect item. Peruse more than 400 artists and crafters booths from 33 states and two countries. Enjoy daily live entertainment, a children’s corner, fabulous festival foods and crafter demonstrations throughout the event. The event is free, parking is $15.

September 8-17, 2017, Tennessee Valley Fair, Knoxville, TN, www.TNValleyFair.org
The Tennessee Valley Fair is one of the state’s largest multi-day events attracting approximately 150,000 guests each year. Known for its innovative exhibits, livestock shows, concert series, action sports, exciting midway and a variety of unique fun foods, the Tennessee Valley Fair has offered tremendous family entertainment for 98 years. This year the fair will celebrate everything that makes the Tennessee Valley—“Ag-Mazing”. From livestock shows, educational activities for children, interactive petting zoo and barnyard animal exhibit, organizers will highlight East Tennessee’s unique agricultural history throughout the 10-day event.

September 9, 2017, 25th Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues & Heritage Festival, Pascagoula, MS, http://MSGulfCoastBluesFest.com/index.html
Strap on your dancing shoes and enjoy one of the top music festivals on the Gulf Coast—the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues & Heritage Festival. Top named blues entertainers include Nikki DeMarks, Simone De, Kent Burnside band, Yazoo Bayou Band, Mark Muleman Massey Band, Eddie Cotton Jr. and Lil Jimmie. Visitors will have an excellent opportunity to hear their favorite songs, eat delicious food and refreshments, see culture exhibits and share in this fun outing with the entire family.

September 9-10, 2017, 36th Annual Biloxi Seafood Festival, Biloxi, MS, https://www.GulfCoast.org/event/36th-annual-biloxi-seafood-festival/4483/
The Biloxi Seafood Festival is a celebration of the seafood heritage of the City of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This two-day celebration features live entertainment, activities for kids, arts and craft vendors and plenty of fresh seafood. A Gumbo Cook-Off will take place Sunday, where attendees can sample and vote for the best bowl.

September 13-17, 2017, Clayton Harvest & Music Festival, Clayton, NC, www.ClaytonChamber.com/pages/Harvest-festival
The 27th Clayton Harvest & Music Festival of 2017 promises 5 days of fun. Nearly 25,000 people will fill Downtown Clayton for this annual event. Don’t miss the great tastes of the Squealin’ on the Square BBQ Cook Off, a North Carolina Pork Council sanctioned event. Stroll through over 200 local and regional craft vendor booths with live art demonstrations. The festival will also include carnival rides, concerts from local artists, karaoke, a dance party, food trucks and a classic car show. It’s fun for the entire family. New this year is the Clayton’s Next Big Thing contest. Locals with a variety of talents will compete in front of an audience and a panel of judges.

September 15-17, 2017, Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival, Augusta, GA, www.ArtsInTheHeart.com
Arts in the Heart of Augusta is two-and-a-half-day celebration in beautiful downtown Augusta, Georgia. The festival, now in its 37th year, honors arts and community and draws over 8,000 visitors each year. The festival spans three city blocks and includes the Downtown Augusta Common. In addition to a Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Market with over 130 booths filled with mesmerizing works, the festival boasts five stages stacked with live entertainment, a Global Village filled with authentic international food from 25 countries, an outstanding Family Area and a Young Artist Market. Patrons can buy tickets in advance, online for $5 or $10 at the gate. Children under ten are free. This year, expect the children’s area to come alive with performances by professional fire dancers and musicians.

September 15, 2017, Taste of Autumn, Gatlinburg, TN, www.Gatlinburg.com/events
Gatlinburg kicks off the fall season with a celebrity filled night packed with delicious food from area restaurants and hilarious comedy at the 20th Annual Taste of Autumn. The entertainment this year is Jimmy Travis. Travis is a multitalented performer who constantly proves that you can be funny, informative and entertaining without being offensive. Tickets are $25 and children 5 and under are free. Proceeds benefit the United Way of Sevier County.

September 18-20, 2017, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Bristol, VA/TN, www.BristolRhythm.com
Nashville may be country music’s capitol, but Bristol—a city split in half by the state line of Virginia and Tennessee—is its birthplace. Bristol is home to the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings. Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is a celebration of those historic recordings. Featuring more than 100 of the finest roots music performances on 20 stages on and around State Street in Historic Downtown Bristol, more than 40,000 people gather to honor the region’s authentic music history. The three-day music festival is amped to the beat of Appalachia’s past, present, and future. In 2016 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion achieved the Bronze Grand Pinnacle from the International Festivals & Events Association. The festival was also listed among Rolling Stone Magazine’s “2016’s 31 Hottest Country Tours & Festivals.”

September 21-October 22, 2017, Bridging The Blues, Memphis & towns throughout the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta, www.BridgingTheBlues.com
The purpose of Bridging The Blues is to give travelers, especially international visitors, an avenue for hearing live music at a wide variety of venues, from large festivals to intimate club settings. The signature bookend events are the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival and King Biscuit Blues Festival. In addition to connecting areas that have the Mississippi River in common, BTB also refers to different types of music that have their origins in the blues and these include almost every genre of popular music. The variety of artists playing at both the festivals and smaller venues is a testament to how far the roots of the blues have spread.

September 21-24, 2017, Mayberry Days, Mount Airy, NC, www.MayberryDays.org
Mayberry Days is a family-friendly festival that celebrates the anniversary date of the Andy Griffith Show. Fans enjoy concerts, games, movies, a parade and opportunities to meet actors from The Andy Griffith Show. Fun contests range from a Barbeque Cook-Off to checkers, an apple peel-off, trivia competitions for all ages, Mayberry Days Corn Hole competitions and a “Goober Says Hay” Bale Toss. During this festival, the streets are not blocked off and guests are welcomed all over town. The festival is centered at the Andy Griffith Playhouse and the Andy Griffith Museum. This year the concerts will have nationally known groups including The Malpass Brothers, James Gregory and Balsam Range. This year will also include first time guests from The Andy Griffith Show. There will also be a comedian and thee outdoor concerts preceding the official kick-off.

September 22-October 1, 2017, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, Captiva, Downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach, FL, www.IslandHopperFest.com
The fourth annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest returns with dozens of chart-topping songwriters set to play against the backdrop of this tropical island destination. The Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau collaborates with Broadcast Music Inc., IHeart Media and local station Cat Country 107.1 to bring approximately 60 accomplished songwriters and several hall of fame musicians to give guests an immersive experience and businesses a boost during a slow time of year. Attendees will have the unique opportunity to listen to their favorite songs and hear the back-stories behind the lyrics in intimate settings such as beach bars, restaurants and resort homes. Past performers have written for George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Celine Dion, Rascal Flatts, Aerosmith and Tim McGraw. Performances take place just steps from the Gulf of Mexico or the beautiful back bay estuaries. This year, look out for some exclusive experiences with songwriters, including sunset cruises, wine parings, house parties and fishing excursions.

September 23-30, 2017, EVA Frontier Days, Eva, AL, http://evafrontierdays.weebly.com/
Eva Frontier Days offers old-fashioned fun for the entire family. Kicking off its 28th year, enjoy the Hayride that attracted 1,400 people in 2016. On September 28th, warm up the pipes for community singing at one of the local churches. September 29th brings Singing on the Square and Talent Contest. The Big finale is September 30th which includes an antique tractor show, car show, parade, craft show, music under the big tent, frog jumping contest, greased pig chase, food vendors and games for all ages.

September 28, 2017, Art Walk Downtown, Columbus, MS
For the past four years, Art Walk Downtown, has been held annually on the last Thursday of September in Columbus, Mississippi. The public is invited for a festive evening where the work of area artists is showcased throughout historic Downtown Columbus, including inside of businesses, in the downtown plaza and on the sidewalks. Visitors can purchase fine art, meet the artists, take advantage of in-store discounts and promotions and enjoy music in the streets. There is a kid’s booth where children can create sand art bottle creations to take home. This year expect even more activities for the kids.

September 29-30, 2017, Athens’ Grease Festival, Athens, AL, www.AthenseGreaseFestival.com
Four many Southerners, fried food is their Achilles Heel. Athens, Alabama has embraced the loved of fried foods and the Greek origin of their city name by hosting the annual Athens Grease Festival in downtown Athens. Eating healthy is important, but this day is set aside to enjoy culinary creations we love to dip, batter and fry. Organizers like to say, you should eat responsibly the other 364 days of the year! The festival names an Athena-Grease Goddess every year who is chosen by her willingness to give back to her community…she earns extra points if she is known for her good cooking skills. For a dash of eccentricity and a greasy good time, enjoy the local music, outrageous food contest, toga competition and many more family-friendly activities


September 29-October 1, 2017, Pensacola Seafood Festival, Pensacola, FL, www.FiestaOfFiveFlags.org
The Fiesta of Five Flags Association invites one and all to the Annual Pensacola Seafood Festival held in historic Seville Square in Downtown Pensacola. You and your family can enjoy delicious fruits of the sea and a variety of local entertainment located in Fountain Park and at the Gazebo in Seville Square. Enjoy the live music while perusing the 130 arts and crafts booths. This year expect even more delicious seafood, both traditional and gourmet recipes. Savor dishes like: fried mullet, crabmeat puffs with Monterey sauce, crawfish etouffe’ or a seafood pita.

September 29-October 29, 2017, Rock City’s Blowing Springs Farm—featuring the Enchanted MAiZE, Flintstone, GA, www.BlowingSpringsFarm.com
Blowing Springs Farm is celebrating 16 years of 10 acres of fall family fun. Rock City’s fall attraction in the valley below Lover’s Leap is a cornfield maze that will intrigue adventurers. Get lost in an all new design this year and when you’re done, take your tokens and enjoy a number of exciting kid’s activities. Go on a hayride or a cow train ride, take aim with a corn slingshot, pet some animals at the Critter Corral and more.

September 30, 2017, Louie Bluie Music and Arts Festival, Cove Lake State Park in Caryville, TN, www.LouieBluie.org
The 11th annual Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival is a free, day-long family-friendly event featuring four stages of live music, a juried Craft Village, a judged Art & Quilt Show, Kids Fun Zone, the Children’s Parade, food vendors and more. Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong is the legendary musician and artist who grew up in LaFollette, showing an early skill and passion for both art and music. Armstrong was in the African American string band Tennessee Chocolate Drops, whose tunes were recorded for the historic Knoxville Sessions in 1929. The Campbell Culture Coalition founded the festival in 2007 to promote Howard’s legacy and support youth arts in rural East Tennessee.

September 30, 2017, Mountain Heritage Day, Cullowhee, NC, www.MountainHeritageDay.com
The 43rd annual Mountain Heritage Day festival is what old-fashioned mountain fairs are made of. Expect Southern Appalachian music, arts and crafts, dance and song, with the atmosphere of a big family reunion. Visitors will find three stages of traditional old-time gospel and bluegrass music. Kick up your feet and dance to the sounds of fiddles and banjos and watch the cloggers take the stage. Festivalgoers are invited to watch demos including a Cherokee stickball game, black powder demo and shape note singing—one of the mountains’ sacred traditions.

October 1-8, 2017, 21ST Annual Cruisin’ the Coast, Mississippi Gulf Coast, MS, https://CruisinTheCoast.com/
America’s Largest Block Party will celebrate 21 years in 2017. Cruisin’ The Coast began in 1996 as a festival to celebrate antique, classic and hot rod vehicles, nostalgic music and more. Starting with humble beginnings (274 registered cars), the event surpassed all expectations with nearly 8,000 vehicles in attendance last year. Enjoy the beauty of the area while driving the scenic stretch of beachside highway along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, from Bay St. Louis to Biloxi, D’lberville, Gulfport, Pass Christian and Ocean Springs. Each venue celebrates with a mini festival that features bands, food vendors, swap meets and more.


October 1-November 4, 2017, Pumpkin Playground, Creedmoor, NC, www.ThreeBearsAcres.com
Enjoy cooler temperatures and all things fall at the Pumpkin Playground at Three Bears Acres. Celebrate autumn with climbing a hay fort, pumpkin bowling, archery, corn cannon, candy corn hole, hayrides, caramel apples and s’mores at the fire pit. Guests can also enjoy the regular activities at Three Bears Acres with the giant jumping pillow, graffiti walk, tree houses, 300 foot slides, pedal boats on the pond and much more. The season ends with a pumpkin smashing festival on Saturday, November 4th where pumpkins are tossed, crushed, slung, sipped and catapulted. Cheer on local firemen as they use their fire truck hoses to race pumpkins across the pond. The kids will leave with full hearts and full hands with a free pumpkin to take home.


October 1-29, 2017, Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern, Chattanooga, TN, www.HauntedCavern.com
Nightmares return to Lookout Mountain for the 14th year as Ruby Falls hosts the Annual Haunted Cavern. Located in a cave crawling with terrifying monsters, the Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern is a unique attraction that adds a new level of fear to the traditional haunted house. If you’re brave enough, hop in the elevator and descend 26 stories underground… where no one can hear you scream. This intense event is considered one of the Southeast’s best haunted attractions. Listed number 4 on Buzzfeed’s national haunt list and a 2016 top haunt by the Haunted Attraction Association, you are sure to leave with thrilling memories to last.


October 6-8, 2017, Slaughter Pen Jam, Bentonville, AR, www.VisitBentonville.com/bike/events/slaughter-pen-jam/
Slaughter Pen Jam is an annual mountain biking festival that takes place on the popular Slaughter Pen Hollow trails in Bentonville, Arkansas. The festival takes place over three days and hosts riders of all ages. A BMX event on Friday kicks off the festival in the Downtown Square with over 3,000 spectators and riders. On Saturday, “The Pen” at Slaughter Pen Hollow Park opens with live music, food, vendors, giveaways, drag races, guided rides, kids’ events, a downhill race, Archery/Bike Biathlon and much more. On Sunday, the festival gets serious with the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series Race. Slaughter Pen Hollow has over 20 mils of the finest single-track. The theme is without question flow, but the best- in-class-free-ride-park and 16 skinny Northshore log rides showcase Slaughter Pen as the ultimate mountain biking event destination.

October 6-8, 2017, The North Carolina Seafood Festival, Morehead City, NC, www.NCSeafoodFestival.org
For 31 years, seafood and sea-fun have met at the NC Seafood Festival. Held on the beautiful Morehead City Waterfront, this annual celebration of the North Carolina seafood industry brings over 200,000 fans in search of fresh seafood dishes, arts and crafts vendors, nationally recognized entertainment and much more. Food lovers will swoon sampling dishes such as the traditional “Down East” Clam Chowder, Shrimp Burgers, Charcoal Mullet, Sea Urchin on a stick, Calamari and Marinated Eel. With over 200 vendors, an in-water and on-land boat show, an interactive “Cooking with the Chefs” tent, stages with free musical entertainment, thrilling rides and a moving ceremony that honors the fishing industry, there’s plenty of sea-fun to go around for all ages!


October 7-8, 2017, Cotton Pickin’ Fair, Gay, GA, www.CPFair.org
The Cotton Pickin’ Fair, Georgia’s original AgriTourism Event, began in September 1972 on a 188 year old family farm. It was a single family’s community economic development project. A declining farm industry and the opening of I-85 from LaGrange to Columbus, gave birth to an idea that would boost the economy and keep the Town of Gay in the public eye as an upscale antique center. Today, over two million visitors have enjoyed the work of the best artisans, antique specialists and craftsmen from across the US and Canada every May and October. Return to 1910 where the Farmhouse, the Cotton Gin, and the Cotton Warehouse form a unique backdrop for a great day of old-fashioned fun. New talent keeps the festival fresh and interesting while returning artists welcome loyal customers seeking to add to individual collections.


October 7-29, 2017 (Saturdays and Sundays only) Rock City’s Rocktoberfest, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/rocktoberfest
Get in touch with Rock City’s German heritage during the 12th Annual Rocktoberfest. Rock City Square will be transformed for a celebration of harvests and fall foliage. This premiere autumn festival includes live German music, polka lessons, German food, the fall Fair, Ik the Troll King and fun for the whole family. Try some German food like bratwursts, beer cheese soup and German chocolate cake. Set out on a guided heritage tour to learn about Rock City’s founder Frieda Utermoehlen Carter and her love of German folklore and fairytales.


October 7, 2017, Rouge et Blanc Food & Wine Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Rouge et Blanc is a premier food and wine festival held each October in Lake Charles. It is an event unlike any other in the area and attracts thousands of food and wine lovers who gather under the stately live oaks of McNeese State University to enjoy the best the region has to offer. The main event is a four-hour tasting extravaganza at which visitors meander through McNeese’s beautiful campus. Explore more than 200 wines from all over the world and pair your favorites with delicacies from dozens of local restaurants.


October 12-15, 2016, The 46th Annual National Shrimp Festival, Gulf Shores, AL, www.MyGulfCoastChamber.com
The Annual National Shrimp Festival is a Gulf Coast family tradition dating back to 1971. What started as a way to bring tourists to the beach after Labor Day has evolved into one of the largest events in the Southeast, drawing in more than 250,000 people each year. Savor fresh from the Gulf seafood with 50 local and regional vendors lining the boardwalk with mouth-watering delights. The area’s best chefs will prepare 200 pounds of shrimp per day to complete their award-winning recipes, which they will let patrons sample at different tasting times. This year the festival will play host to more than 80 hours of musical entertainment featuring a lineup of national, regional and local acts. Jam out to Motown, southern rock, jazz, zydeco and country. Activities will include Outdoor World, featuring fishing, boating and hunting and Singing for Scholarships—a talent competition. Families can enter the Annual Sand Sculpture Contest on Saturday. Kids will enjoy the newly relocated Children's Activity Village, which will include face painting, karaoke and much more. Burn off the good eats by entering the 10K or 5K race or take it slow and peruse the 200 fine arts booths.


October 13-14, 2017, 70th Annual Indiantown Rodeo, Indiantown, FL, http://IndiantownRodeo.com
Throw on a good pair of boots and head down to Western Martin County, Florida this fall to the Indiantown Rodeo, where there is so much more than bucking broncos. This hoedown features live music, tons of entertainment and is a good time for all. The rodeo is even the first tour stop of the 3 Iron Man Tour. Come experience steer wrestling, barrel racing, bull riders, cowboys and team roping at this time-honored tradition that sells out to crowds of thousands each and every year.


October 14, 2017, Big Creek Fall ATV Festival, LaFollette, TN, www.LaFolletteTN.net
For one day every October, the City of LaFollette shuts down its downtown area to host the Big Creek Fall ATV Festival. This allows ATV riders easy access to the mountain trails and fun activities of the festival. Riders can take an organized ride provided by the city or grab a map and ride through the mountains themselves. There are 60+ vendors that set up each year bringing arts, crafts, food, jewelry, clothing and much more. There are also ATV vendors who set and sell ATV’s and accessories. There are lots of fun activities for the kids too, like bounce houses and interactive games. Festivalgoers can also register for over 20 different door prizes. Last year, the grand prizewinner won a brand new Honda four-wheeler! Before the day is over, festivalgoers can enjoy a music concert followed by a magnificent firework show.


October 14, 2017, T.O.O.T. (Taste of Our Town) Lewisburg, WV, http://CarnegieHallWV.com/
The streets of Lewisburg fill with favorite delicacies of local restaurants and organizations during Taste Of Our Town. The event combines sensational food, the beautiful outdoor setting of Historic Downtown Lewisburg (during peak fall colors), family entertainment and a welcoming community. It is a fantastic time of year to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and the amenities of Greenbrier Valley. As a fundraiser for Carnegie Hall, the annual T.O.O.T. festival successfully serves as one of the region’s top tourist events, drawing thousands of visitors to the area each year. While strolling the streets, make sure to get your hands on yearly favorites such as The General Lewis Inn’s Sticky Toffee Pudding and Greenbrier Sporting Club's Shrimp & Grits, which disappear quickly!

October 13-15, 2017, Fall for Greenville, Greenville, SC, www.FallForGreenville.net
Discover a world of tempting tastes, fun sights and pleasing sounds at Fall for Greenville. With 40-plus restaurants featuring over 200 menu items, the mouthwatering aromas will carry you along Greenville’s Main Street. While indulging the taste buds, enjoy free entertainment on seven stages as 60 musical acts perform throughout the weekend. This year, indulge in Food Truck Row, which will feature local food trucks in addition to the traditional brick and mortar restaurants that are normally featured at the event. With free admission, creative eats and top tunes, there’s no guessing why around 200,000 people attended Fall for Greenville last year.

October 21, 2017, Culture Fest Louisiana, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Culture Fest Louisiana is an international celebration of cultures and is held at the Lake Charles Civic Center. The festival showcases art, music, dance, fashion and food of the different counties represented in Southwest Louisiana. Four stages feature diverse and celebrated performers, music, dance and dance lessons that span the globe. Entertainment will range from a Chinese Lion and Dragon dance troupe, to Latin dancers and performers and a Bollywood dance team. This event is free to the public and is designed for the entire family. Shop till you drop where unique global wares abound. The Kids Zone offers children’s entertainment and hands-on make- and-take activities. The World Café boasts taste-tempting cuisines from all over the world.


October 21, 2017, The Boudin Cook-Off, Lafayette, LA, www.BoudinCookOff.com
The Boudin Cook-Off is a Cajun food festival devoted to boudin (Louisiana’s extraordinary pork and rice sausage) and other Cajun foods. This daylong, free and family-friendly event celebrates Louisiana’s unique culinary culture with great food, live music, free kids activities, boudin themed games, free ice cream sandwiches and a boudin eating contest. Come taste why Gourmet Magazine ranked the Boudin Cook-Off as a top ten food festival in the United States. For this year’s tenth anniversary, there will be five new boudin themed games, an expanded boudin eating contest and new boudin dishes unveiled exclusively at the event. One lucky participant will win FREE boudin for a year!

October 21-22, 2017, 28th Annual Georgetown Wooden Boat Show, Georgetown, SC, www.WoodenBoatShow.com
The Georgetown Wooden Boat Show features one of the Southeast’s best wooden boat exhibits. With more than 140 classic wooden boats displayed on land and water, children’s model boatbuilding, knot tying, maritime art, as well as crafts, food and music—this festival has something for everyone in the family. The gloves come off during Saturday’s Wooden Boat Challenge when teams of two race to build a rowing skiff within a 4-hour time limit and then test their boats for seaworthiness in a rowing relay on the Sampit River. Sunday is a fun-filled family day that includes a Cardboard Boat Regatta, sea creature puppetry, kite building, live music and food. All events take place on the waterfront and along Front Street in Historic Downtown Georgetown. Proceeds benefit the South Carolina Maritime Museum.

October 21-22, 2017, Town of Orange Park Fall Festival, Orange Park, FL, www.OPFallFestival.com
The Town of Orange Park Fall Festival is Orange Park’s most popular event of the year and draws 40,000 people from all over Florida and Georgia. The festival began in 1982 with roughly twelve craft booths and a couple guitar players. Thirty-five years later, this two-day festival has over 200 vendors and two stages packed with entertainment from regional and local artists. The kids can bounce on inflatables in the Kids Zone, and of course, the shopping is second to none with unique gifts, handmade quilts, jewelry, pottery and even treats or your furry friends. What’s a festival without great food? The 30+ food vendors have it covered. Attendees will enjoy a wide variety of food from barbeque and local seafood to funnel cakes and turkey legs. Farmer’s Market fans can even pick up some fresh produce. Admission is free, there’s free parking and a shuttle is available. This year enjoy the Atlantic City Boys and Mountain Faith Band as the headline entertainment. Have some old-fashioned fun with eating contests and a pumpkin patch.


October 26-29, 2017, Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium, Cartersville, GA, www.BoothMuseum.org/cowboyfestival
Saddle up the youngin’s for the largest Western themed event in the South—the Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium put on by the Booth Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. A four-day celebration of the West is highlighted by gunfight re-enactments, traditional Native American dancing, western shopping marketplace, cowboy church, petting zoos three stages of entertainment, art activities with featured artist Howard Post and a concert with Sons of the Pioneers. This year, expect more music, western demonstrations, living history performances and children’s programming.

October 28, 2017, The Barbecue Festival, Lexington, NC, www.BarbecueFestival.com
The annual Barbecue Festival features North Carolina’s best pork barbecue. However, there’s more than delicious food to look forward to, guests are treated to exciting local, regional and national entertainment on seven different states, located throughout a 14 square block area. The festival features 350+ artisans and craftsman, children’s attractions car shows, rides, games and many other “pig” themed activities to celebrate Lexington’s famous heritage. Marvel at the 50-ton pig themed sand sculpture, shop the juried arts and craft show, peruse the antique car and corvette shows and enjoy seven stages of outstanding entertainment. The festival is also home to children’s rides and games, bicycle stunt show, lumberjack sports show, rock climbing wall and much more. New attractions will include an expanded Wine Garden, Que-UP Brew-Up, and Thursday and Friday night events. The festival has received numerous recognitions and awards, including one of the best 15 small-town festivals in the United States by Fodor.


October 28-November 5, 2017, Mountaineer Week, Morgantown, WV, http://MountaineerWeek.WVU.edu
Mountaineer Week is a celebration of the state of West Virginia and its Appalachian heritage and culture. Since 1947, Mountaineer Week has been organized as a program that educates University students about the history that has made West Virginia what it is today. Mountaineer Week encompasses the unique aspects of Appalachian life, music, food, crafts and programs. 60,000 West Virginia University staff, students and visitors from around the region attend this event every year. The centerpiece of the annual event is the Craft Fair, which features traditional and contemporary crafts to fit everyone’s taste. The events scheduled for Mountaineer Week are as fun and educational as they are diverse. Mountaineer Week truly celebrates the spirit of West Virginian and what it means to be a Mountaineer. This year, the theme will be “Women in Appalachia”, showcasing women’s crafts, quilts, storytelling, programming and music, as well as the standard yearly Mountaineer Week events.

November 3-5, 2017, 28th Annual Stuart AirShow, Stuart, FL, http://StuartAirShow.com/
There is a reason this is the most popular AirShow in South Florida! Now in its 28th Year, the Stuart Airshow draws 40,000 spectators to South Florida every year. Get whisked away by amazing performances, fireworks, carnival rides, live music and even helicopter trips and flights on the Warbird Texan Aircraft are available. This event honors aviation’s past while inspiring its future. On Friday night, the Dirty Flight Suit Party offers spectators the opportunity to enjoy spectacular aerobatic performances just as the sun is setting. Attendees enjoy live music, food, drinks and a huge fireworks display. Guests can mix and mingle with the pilots and performers. The Saturday and Sunday Air Show festivities include an authentic WWII battle reenactment, weapons demo, WWII vehicle display, static aircraft displays, vendor booths, food and beverage booths and the popular Kids Zone.

November 4-5, 2017, 39th Annual Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival presented by Blue Moon, Ocean Springs, MS, http://www.PeterAndersonFestival.com
The Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival is an annual event presented by Blue Moon, created to enhance and showcase the arts as well as provide a continual economic driver to the Coast Shops, restaurants, galleries and hotels. The festival makes a significant contribution to developing the Gulf Coast as a regional arts destination. Not only does the festival bring in 400 artists, craftsmen and food vendors from all over, the festival team as created a “festival season” around the event starting months before the main two-day show. Local restaurants host pre-dinners and previews of the Blue Moon Art pieces. Mississippi Seafood Marketing has partnered with the festival team bringing in the culinary arts to the festival, which also ties in the surrounding restaurants. This year, organizers will add even more events to the festival.


November 7-February 28, 2017, Pigeon Forge Winterfest, Pigeon Forge, TN, www.MyPigeonForge.com
Draped in more than 5 million lights, Pigeon Forge creates a winter wonderland for locals and guests alike to enjoy during the city's annual Winterfest celebration.
More than three decades ago, Pigeon Forge looked quite differently during the winter months. The fall and spring “shoulder seasons” in the popular family vacation destination thrived. However, during the winter months, tourism, the city’s only industry saw a sharp decline. To counter this, tourism officials launched Winterfest. The wintertime festival is now one of Pigeon Forge’s most popular events. Enjoy Christmas shows in the many theaters along the parkway. Venture to Dollywood theme park as they present the award-winning Smoky Mountain Christmas festival, adding another four million lights for guests to enjoy. This citywide event offers spectacular light displays, musical entertainment and everything Christmas memories are made of.

November 9-13, 2017, Cucalorus Festival, Wilmington, NC, www.Cucalorus.org
Known for its gorgeous riverside setting and its laid-back, rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere, Cucalorus is a non-competitive festival, which showcases more than 300 films from all over the world. In addition to film screenings, guests enjoy a diverse selection of stage performances and over 50 connect conference events. Cucalorus attracts an audience of over 17,800 cultural travelers who come to celebrate art and connect with peers. The festival’s spirited celebration has been recognized as a breeding ground for young artists, new ideas and lifelong friendships. Moviemaker Magazine has recognized the event as “One of the Coolest Film Festivals in the World” for three years in a row, and “One of the 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.”

November 8-14, 2017, World Food Championships, Orange Beach, AL, www.WorldFoodChampionships.com
The World Food Championships is the largest competition in Food Sport, where grand champions of previous events convene for a chance at winning the ultimate food crown and a share of hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money. The World Food Championships is also the springboard for many up and coming culinary stars and home cooks as they seek TV fame through many well-known food shows and acting opportunities. Now heading into its 6th season, the 5th Annual World Food Championships boasted the largest Food Sport tournament in history with well over 1,200 contestants on 419 official teams. They came from 48 American states and 14 countries to compete, while more than 20,000 foodies watched and enjoyed the heat of the battle unfold in 10 official categories. In short, the World Food Championships has given birth to “Food Sport” by providing a level playing field, a fair judging system, a creative culinary fest and a process that allows culinary elite to show their chops and earn the respect they deserve.

November 9-12, 2017, 35th Annual Dickens Christmas Show and Festivals, Myrtle Beach, SC, www.DickensChristmasShow.com
Thirty-five years ago in a far-away land known as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, hospitality leaders created a unique art, craft and gift show to attract visitors in the slow winter months. They drew their inspiration from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, and since that time The Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals has become a premiere holiday event, attracting more than 18,000 revelers from all over the southeast. The main event is a 19th century Victorian Marketplace, complete with vendors pedaling arts, crafts, toys, gourmet foods, jewelry, clothing and more. Stroll the streets and be transported to a simpler time where Punch and Judy shows take stage, period clad street urchins perform, strolling minstrels delight and of course Jolly Old Saint Nick himself cozies up in his very own Victorian Castle to greet all of the seaside visitors.

November 9-19, 2017, Frank Brown International Songwriter’s Festival, Pensacola, FL, www.fbisf.com
200 Musicians from across the globe bring their talents up and down the Gulf Coast during the Frank Brown International Songwriter’s Festival. This 11-day festival takes place in over two-dozen venues from Pensacola, Florida to Magnolia Springs, Alabama. Musicians perform tunes of all genres throughout the festival, which serves as a time for hit writers, aspiring new comers and an audience that appreciates great music to come together.

November 10-January 1, 2018, A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville, TN, www.ChristmasAtGaylordOpryLand.com
There’s no better place for the holidays than Nashville’s iconic Gaylord Opryland Resort with more than 2 million twinkling lights, acres of stunning decorations and exceptional entertainment. With each passing year, the shows and attractions have increased to more than a dozen and include everything from larger-than-life nativity displays, Christmas dinner shows, to ICE!—an astonishing display of colorful sculptures hand carved from 2 million pounds of ice. The resort’s nine acres of indoor gardens and waterfalls are transformed into a fanciful world of towering Christmas trees, oversized wreathes and ornate details that provide breathtaking views from every direction. This year, guests will experience new décor, ice-skating, snow tubing, scavenger hunts, carriage rides, a breathtaking holiday fountain show and much more. Come see why 1 million visitors make a Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland resort an annual Christmas tradition.

November 10-12, 2017, Christmas City Gift Show, Biloxi, MS, www.ChristmasCityGiftShow.com
Christmas City Gift Show is a magical atmosphere that is about creating memories for three generations of shoppers. The kid will love exploring Santa Land, with crafts, puppet shows and photos with Santa. Breakfast with Santa is another option, which is an exclusive time with Santa, Mrs. Claus and their helpers. Walk through the 20,000 square foot interactive train display, which delights people of all ages. The focus of Christmas City is an unlimited shopping experience featuring over 300 booths where attendees find a huge variety of gifts. Peruse aisle after aisle of jewelry, clothing, framed artwork, handcrafted pottery, glass and metal art. On Friday night, shop for a cause. Shoppers can purchase a $25 ticket for the option of shopping without thousands in attendance, while benefitting a local charity.

November 18, 2017, 22nd Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration, Raleigh, NC, www.NCMuseumOfHistory.org/events
From the minute visitors arrive at the annual American Indian Heritage Celebration, they discover why this is North Carolina’s signature event for recognizing National American Indian Heritage Month. It is the largest celebration of the year at the North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh. North Carolina has the largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi River. Members of all eight state-recognized tribes participate in the celebration and are passionate about sharing their history and culture. Over 100 event presenters include artists, dancers, musicians, craftspeople, drum groups, storytellers, scholars and authors. Visitors have numerous opportunities to gain valuable knowledge about the state’s American Indians, past and present. The highlight of the festival is the Call to Grand Entry at noon, when each tribe processes onto Bicentennial Plaza for the roll call of the tribes and organizations. Then, as drum groups play, hundreds of dancers in brilliantly colored regalia present dance demonstrations. The American Indian Heritage Celebration is a fascinating and memorable experience for thousands of people each year.

November 11- December 31, 2017, Stone Mountain Christmas, Stone Mountain, GA, www.StoneMountainPark.com/events/stone-mountain-christmas
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas at Stone Mountain Park, where the true magic of the season is in the air. Enjoy the glow of more than two million lights, festive music and visits from some of your favorite holiday characters. Start a new tradition and create memories that will last a lifetime for your kids and you. Watch Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer in 4-D, visit Skylights Spectacular: a musical walk through experience where thousands of lights, projections and special effects warm the soul, enjoy live performances such as : The Littlest Christmas Tree, Forever Christmas, Twas the Night Before…A Holiday Cabaret and A Christmas Carol. Climb aboard the Sing-along Train and jam out to favorite Christmas tunes, be dazzled by the nightly Christmas parade and bring your Christmas wishes and visit Santa Claus. With so much to experience and see, it’s no wonder 75,000 guests enjoyed Stone Mountain Christmas last year

November 17-19, 2017, Foothills Craft Guild Showcase of Fine Crafts, Knoxville, TN, FoothillsCraftGuild.org
Stroll through 160 fine craftsman’s booths from across Tennessee at the Foothills Craft Guild Showcase of Fine Crafts. These juried artists ensure quality workmanship at the highest standards. Guests can watch daily live craft demonstrations and interact with artisans. Kids and adults will have fun at the “make-it-take-it” craft area. With so many unique items, the showcase is the ideal place to kick off the holiday shopping season. After you shop, head to the entertainment lounge where Bluegrass musicians take the stage in live performances.

November 17-January 6, 2018, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/lights
For the holiday season, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights is a family tradition. Featured on ABC’s show, The Chew, this light extravaganza showcases more than 30 holiday scenes and nearly a million LED lights that transform the gardens’ natural daytime splendor into a fantasyland. Enjoy gingerbread cookie decorating, hot cocoa and nightly entertainment. Dinner with Santa is also back, as well as Jack Frost, Inara the Ice Queen and the Dancing Forest. As you enter the park through the new entrance, next to the Original 1932 Gatehouse and venture down The North Pole Highway, you'll have the option to visit each of the themed realms of wonder in the order you choose, or experience the magic in the traditional order beginning with the Grand Corridor in Yule Town. Come see why more than 63,000 people made this spectacular event apart of their Christmas calendar last year.

November 18- December 31, 2017, Holidays In the City, Norfolk, VA, http://HolidaysInTheCity.net
A unique multi-city partnership produces the Holidays in the City season in Hampton Roads. The six-week celebration serves and an umbrella for the holiday events produced by the region’s major cultural organizations. Holidays in the City appeals to a broad demographic and crosses many socio-economic groups. Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are all a part of the Holidays in the City celebration. Created to fill hotel rooms during a typically slow time of the year, Holidays in the City kicks off with the Grand Illumination Parade. Visitors will also enjoy a full calendar of performances, activities, events, and more in Norfolk and Portsmouth. This cherished holiday tradition brings together spectators, participants and volunteers from all over Hampton Roads and the region.

November 24-December 31, 2017, Galaxy of Lights, Huntsville, AL, www.HSVBG.org
This holiday season head to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens for a bright holiday extravaganza—Galaxy of Lights. This spectacular event features larger-than-life animated light displays. See Santa soaring over a delightful winter village. Watch nursery rhyme characters dance and frolic among traditional scenes of the season. Best of all, experience the magic of the twinkling icicle forest. Galaxy of Lights is the perfect holiday treat for the young and young-at-heart. This year, enjoy new light displays, a new layout and the great feeling of holiday tradition it brings year after year.

November 24-January 1, 2018, Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival, Gulfport, MS, https://www.facebook.com/GulfportHarborLights/
This spectacular light show has earned the title of “Most Magical Light Show in Mississippi” by OnlyInYourState.com. Go through this dazzling light display in one of two ways: a leisurely stroll or aboard a heated trolley. Guests can visit with Santa in Santa’s Village every night, take pictures at any of the Elfie Selfie stations and enjoy hot chocolate and other concessions items available for purchase. Live bands will fill the night air with warm tunes for several nights. Guests can also enjoy a carousel, sky racer and train rides. If you need to do some holiday shopping, there will be a night to browse unique artisan wares at the Christmas Market.

November 23, 2017, Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade, Charlotte, NC, www.NovantHealthThanksgivingParade.com
This Thanksgiving Day, venture to Charlotte for the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. This annual tradition has entertained and inspired audiences since 1947. Complete with dance and choral performances, marching bands from around the region, larger-than-life floats, balloons and some of your favorite characters. Experience parade elements like none other, such as Segwaloons (a cross between a Segway and a 15-foot tall balloon), scented floats and a 20-foot tall marionette. Last year, 110,000 people attended the Novant Health Thanksgiving Parade for the unique entertainment and cheer it provides. This year’s parade will kick off the holiday season, Charlotte-style!


November 24-25, 2017, The 30A 10K, Rosemary Beach, FL, http://30a10k.com
Looking for an excuse to grab that second slice of pie this Thanksgiving? The 30A 10K charity race series is a fantastic way to get moving and give back to the community. This sold out event attracts more than 2,000 participants from 38 states every year. More than just a run, this event includes excitement for the whole family. The running/shopping expo and post-race Black Friday contests mean runners and non-runners can equally participate. In 2017, the race series will add a new 5K race and a 1-mile fun run race. Organizers will also unveil a new countywide scavenger hunt contest that participants can play using an app on their smart phone. In the past five years, the event has raised more than $200,000 for local charities.

November 25-January 8, 2018, Christmas In the City, Knoxville, TN, https://www.visitknoxville.com/events/christmas/
Christmas in the City is Knoxville's most anticipated winter festival. The city dresses for the holidays with lighted trees and decorations, Up on the Rooftops displays - plus dozens of events guaranteed to bring holiday cheer. The season kicks off with the celebration of Lights and the lighting of the 42-foot Christmas Tree at Krutch Park. Additional festivities and events include Holidays on Ice, open-air skating on Market Square, a Window Wonderland display, Tour de Lights for holiday bike riders, a Christmas Parade down historic Gay Street and New Year’s Eve on the Square. Returning in 2017, to Christmas in the City, is Peppermint Panda and the Peppermint Trail, featuring peppermint drinks, desserts and gifts.

November 25-26, 2017, The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach, Wrightsville Beach, NC, www.NCHolidayFlotilla.org
The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville beach is the Southern Coastal version of a Holiday parade—on water—at night. It’s also the state’s largest Thanksgiving weekend event as it attracts over 50,000 visitors and reaches many more through extensive media coverage. The Total Flotilla Experience is a weekend full of fun events with something for everyone including the Flotilla Launch Party featuring the Embers, an annual tree-lighting ceremony with a visit from Santa on Friday, along with the Festival in the Park for families and children on Saturday afternoon prior to the actual Flotilla. Don’t miss the spectacular fireworks show that evening starting at 6 p.m.

December 1-23, 2017, Billy Graham Library—Christmas at the Library, Charlotte, NC, www.BillyGrahamlibrary.org/christmas-at-the-library/
Come experience Christmas at the Billy Graham Library, featuring a live nativity that offers a glimpse into the awe of that first Christmas night. Guests can also take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the beautiful lights, hear heartwarming sounds of from carol singers and listen to the story time for children of all ages. Enjoy holiday goodies at the Dairy Bar, exclusive library ornaments, holiday shopping in Ruth’s attic and tours of the Journey of Faith at the Billy Graham Library.

December 1-2, 2017, ChristmasFest, Toccoa, GA, www.MainstreetToccoa.com/christmasfest
The city of Toccoa welcomes the Christmas season the first weekend of December with the annual ChristmasFest in the Historic Downtown area. This magical event is guaranteed to ignite the Christmas spirit for all who attend. Take in the sounds of the holiday season, as carolers serenade shoppers while strolling the streets and stores. Take a carriage ride through the town’s historic district to see the beautifully lit streets. A live nativity allows children to enter the manger, pet the animals and experience a taste of the first Christmas. Santa drops in for a visit and pictures and personally collects letters from excited children. Children can also take Santa’s Express Train for a spin around the town. Revelers will also enjoy “Toccoa on Ice,” which brings ice-skating to Northeast Georgia. The Festival of Trees is celebrated at the Stephens County Historic Courthouse from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Visitors are asked to vote for their favorite from a variety of beautifully decorated trees. Sounds of the season fill the winter air as musical entertainment plays throughout the evening.

December 1-2, 8-9, 2017, Festival of Lights and Luminaries, Dillsboro, NC, https://www.DiscoverJacksonNC.com/event/festival-of-lights-and-luminaries/2017-12-09/
Journey back to the days of yesteryear at Dillsboro, North Carolina’s Festival of Lights and Luminaries. Experience the magic as the entire town is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights, candles, laughter and song. 2,500 luminaries light the way to shops and studios. Horse and buggy rides are available each night. Shopkeepers provide live music and serve holiday treats with hot cider and cocoa. Carolers sing and children visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Kids can write a letter to Santa, mail it and expect a written post card back from the big man himself. Also, get a glimpse of the wonderment of the very first Christmas with a live nativity scene.

December 1-23, 2017, Ruby Falls’ Christmas Underground, Chattanooga, TN, www.RubyFalls.com/christmas
Experience nighttime holiday magic all day long at Christmas Underground this year. Journey through the North Pole Village and help spread holiday cheer 1,120 feet underground at Ruby Falls! While mining for Joystone, a rare gemstone that helps spread the spirit of Christmas, an underground passage was uncovered that leads to the North Pole. An adventure to see Santa leads you on a journey through the Sugar Plum Fairy Village where you can watch gemstone miners play and catch a view of the Northern Lights.

December 1-31, 2017, Southwest Louisiana Christmas Lighting Festival, Lake Charles/Sulphur, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
There’s no excuse not to be in the Christmas spirit with all of festivities going on in Lake Charles during the holiday season. Join in the fun for Light Up the Lake, where the whole family will enjoy activities from gingerbread houses, to parades by land and by sea and a spectacular fireworks display over the beautiful lake. If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, then head over to Sulphur’s Christmas Under the Oaks Festival where it snows every year. Located at the Brimstone Museum complex, Heritage Square is transformed into a winter wonderland with twinkling lights, holly wreathes and yes, even snow! Get an early start on Christmas shopping at the Holiday House, featuring more than 25 different shops with Christmas decorations, gifts, ornaments and more that will make it easy to deck your halls. Southwest Louisiana has it all to help your family celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. With great food, music, parades, shopping and Santa, it’s easy to see why the Southwest Louisiana Christmas Lighting Festival is a holiday favorite.

December 1, 8, 15, 2017, The Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas, Roanoke, VA, http://www.DowntownRoanoke.org
The Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas transports you back to a simpler time and is fun for the entire family. Enjoy horse drawn carriage rides, carolers, street performances, re-enactors dressed in period costumes, a variety of craft vendors, foods and goodies, fresh roasted chestnuts, Santa’s Workshop, photos with Santa, an outdoor Ice Rink and much more. Downtown retailers extend their hours and give away free hot chocolate, hot apple cider and goodies to customers. Festival activities include the city of Roanoke Christmas Tree Lighting, the Roanoke Parade, a pet costume contest, a snow zone and a kids’ zone full of fun inflatables and games. The Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas is free for all to enjoy with carriage ride tickets for only $5. Come downtown and explore this wonderful holiday celebration filled with a variety of entertainment that is sure to leave you full of the season’s spirit.

December 1, 2017, Wassail Fest, Columbus, MS, www.ColumbusMainStreet.com
Every year, the streets of Columbus, Mississippi transform into a winter wonderland. With twinkling lights, festive decorations and talented carolers performing from balconies and inside establishments, Wassail Fest sets the stage for the holiday season. The centuries-old Christmas Carol, “Here We come A-Wassailing,” takes on a new and special meaning. Guests sample a variety of Wassail, a drink whose very name means, “to your health.” Downtown merchants prepare months in advance for the battle of becoming the “Wassail Meister.” As visitors shop and sample wassail, they cast a vote for their favorite. This community tradition is designed to help everyone catch the holiday spirit and grows increasingly more popular and competitive each year. Come enjoy artificial snow, children’s activities, and of course the signature juice made with spices that dates back to Robin Hood and his merry men and feel the warmth of the holidays wash over you.

December 7, 2017, Hometown Holidays Parade, Forsyth, GA, www.Forsyth-MonroeChamber.com/hometown-holidays-parade/
As one of Middle Georgia’s only nighttime parades, the Hometown Holidays Parade is a spectacular display of lights. The parade begins in front of Tift College and travels around three sides of the historic square. 2016 was one of the biggest parades yet, with nearly 70 entries and over 5,000 people in attendance. Competition is steep as float creators compete for the titles of Best in Show, Best Use of Lights and Most Creative awards. As the parade commences, the annual Christmas tree-lighting lights up the night even more.

December 7-23, 2017, Reflections of the Season, Port Allen, LA, WestBatonRouge.net
Reflections of the Season is a Christmas event you won't want to miss! This walk or drive through holiday display is located on the transformed grounds of the West Baton Rouge Conference Center. Inside the conference center, you will see animated displays with polar bears in a wintry iceberg and water scenes, talking reindeers, brown and black bears in the wood and a dog sled with animated dogs. Enjoy a special area decorated for Santa to greet the children on Friday and Saturday nights. The 8 acres of property adjacent to the tourist center is lit up with huge lighted displays including a 40-foot dancing Christmas Tree with lights that change with the music. This family event includes carnival rides, horse and buggy rides through the lights, special ice fishing Louisiana style—where children fish for real fish through ice holes. Three tons of crushed ice cover the area on Snow nights for the children to play in. Last minute shoppers can peruse the wares from crafters and vendors.

December 2-3, 2017, The 31st Annual Marietta Pilgrimage, Marietta, GA, http://www.mariettapilgrimage.com/
Make plans to attend this year’s Marietta Pilgrimage Christmas Home Tour! Get a glimpse inside six private Marietta homes. Each home has been lovingly restored and will be decorated for the holiday season. The Marietta Visitors Bureau and Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society organize this tour, which has been featured in Southern Living and named a Top 100 Event in North America.

December 8, 2017, 29th Annual Downtown Hampton Lighted Boat Parade, Hampton, VA, www.DowntownHampton.com/calendar
Revel in the pageantry and whimsy of the holiday season at the 29th Annual Downtown Hampton Lighted Boat Parade. For 29 years, more than 20 watercrafts don their holiday best with hundreds of strings of lights and sail up the Hampton River. The festive boats cruise along the downtown waterfront and light up the night. The event is free to spectators who can view the parade from either side of the Hampton River.

December 8-9, 15-16, 2017, Winter Waterland, Weeki Wachee, FL, http://WeekiWachee.com/
Winter Waterland is a yearly event held for two weekends at the famous Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Highlighting the event, the Weeki Wachee mermaids perform an underwater Christmas show. The performance is new every year and is a sight to behold. There are also above-water performances by state park staff, light displays and a special visit from Santa Class and his mermaid elves. Extra activities include a petting zoo, bounce houses and a live nativity scene. Cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children. This year, take the family to a Christmas festivity so unique, it is sure to be remembered as a favorite holiday experience.

December 9, 2017, Christmas Candlelight Tour, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortHistoricSite.org
The Beaufort Historical Association’s 10th Annual Christmas Candlelight Tour showcases Beaufort’s holiday hospitality and provides a rare glimpse into private historic homes, several inns, bed & breakfasts as well as churches—all elegantly decorated for the season. These private homes represent a wide variety of Beaufort’s unique architectural styles from different periods of the town’s history. Guests will have the opportunity to stroll through candlelit streets or join the carolers aboard the BHA’s 1967 English double-decker bus for a free ride to their destinations. In addition, the Beaufort Historic Site and buildings will be open for free tours to the public that day from 2p.m.-4p.m. An ongoing raffle and silent auction will also be taking place at the Visitors Center, where guest can place bids on a wide variety items. In addition to the Christmas Candlelight Tour, the Beaufort ArtWalk celebrates its sixth year from 2p.m.-5p.m. in Historic Downtown Beaufort. Every year, guests can expect to see something new. With a unique selection of homes and artists, you’ll never see the same tour twice.

December 9-25, 2017, Community Holiday Light Show, Danville, VA, http://PlayDanvilleVA.com/
Every December, Danville Parks and Recreation invites the community to decorate one of the oldest civic owned parks in Virginia for the holidays—all in the name of giving back. The Community Holiday Light show is a drive-through spectacle featuring displays built by local families, organizations and business complete with complimentary photos with Santa! While the event entertains thousands of visitors each year, is has also contributed more than $20,000 to civic organizations, volunteer groups and local nonprofits in its first three years of existence. The 15-day event is open nightly to the public. A portion of the gate fees are donated to the volunteer groups working the show that night, while another portion is turned into prize money, which is donated to a local nonprofit courtesy of the display that is voted as ‘Best in Show’ by the public. For just $7, families, friends and neighbors are whisked away to a magical winter wonderland of lights and then to Santa’s workshop for photos, hot chocolate and crafts, all while supporting the community. This year, expect an expanded Children’s Village and opportunities to take a horse drawn carriage ride around the park.

December 9, 2017, Historic Alabama Christmas Tour Homes, Decatur, AL, www.DecaturChristmasTour.com
The Historic Alabama Christmas Tour of Homes showcases the Old Decatur Historic District and Albany Historic District, which contain some of the of the finest and largest collections of Victorian and early 20th century craftsman and bungalow homes in the state. See the gorgeous halls decked out for the holidays. Local stores and restaurants join in the revelry by offering specials and refreshments. The annual event also offers holiday decorating tips, carriage rides, refreshments and holiday music.

December 9, 2017, Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, Fort Lauderdale, FL, https://WinterfestParade.com/
The world’s most watched parade travels the Intracoastal waterways, 12 miles in Broward County from Fort Lauderdale, north to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. The parade hosts brightly embellished boats carrying celebrities, musical groups, beauty queens and other thrilling entries such as a floating broadway barge. The theme for the parade is “Broadway on Parade.” The International Festival and Events Association named Winterfest to its top 20 Parades in the World. Come see why 1 million people come to watch this holiday spectacle every year!


December 14-15, 2017, Victorian Christmas, Thomasville, GA, www.ThomasvilleGA.com
Journey into the past as a turn-of-the-century downtown ushers you into the spirit of Christmas long ago. Tantalizing aromas drift from street vendors offering scrumptious seasonal delicacies. Visit with St. Nick in a snowy winter scene. Take a carriage ride complete with jingle bells among the twinkling lights. Carol singers fill the air with traditional tunes while colorful characters capture the imagination with street theatre. Chestnut roasting and marshmallow toasting will put you in the mood for the holiday. Festival favorites include strolling the brick paved streets, live nativity scene and a bustling food court. Come see why this award-winning downtown has become a distinguished shopping center and a favorite holiday destination.

December 31, 2017, New Year’s Eve Celebration—Island of Lights, Carolina Beach/Kure Beach, NC, www.IslandOfLights.org
This small island community really knows how to throw a party. For 20 years, The New Years Eve celebration has rotated yearly between Carolina and Kure beach. Enjoy music, fireworks and a heaping dose of Southern hospitality. The party kicks off at 9 p.m. and the giant beach ball drop is at midnight. This free family-friendly event will feature a DJ, dancing, refreshments and party favors available for purchase and a raffle.

December 31, 2017, New Year’s Eve Pier Park Beach Ball Drop, Panama City Beach, FL, www.ShoppierPark.com
Ring in the New Year with a beachside celebration like no other. The New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop is celebrating its 10th year in 2017 and continues to grow in attendance and programming year after year. The festivities begin on December 31st at 5:30 p.m. and will feature a family celebration complete with live music, street vendors, stilt walkers, balloon artists and the popular countdown to 8 o’clock, with a ball drop featuring 10,000 colorful beach balls released onto Pier Park Drive. This leads into the Midnight Celebration with live entertainment, breath-taking fireworks and the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop that features an LED illuminated beach ball which will be lowered down the Celebration Tower as the clock strikes midnight. Two firework shows, 10,000 beach balls and 40,000 closest friends come together to make the most family-friendly and unique New Year’s celebrations in the Southeast.

December 31, 2017, Pensacola Pelican Drop, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaPelicanDrop.com
Pensacola’s Pelican Drop Celebration is designed to entertain spectators of all ages with a unique gulf-coast experience. While New York has their ball drop and Atlanta has the peach drop, Pensacola is proud to stake claim to the one and only Pelican drop. Throughout the evening, the giant illuminated Pelican will be perched above the celebration on a 100-foot platform. Live music and activities abound throughout the evening. The celebration’s high point will be the giant illuminated pelican descending at the stroke of midnight amidst fireworks and confetti.
Southeast Tourism Society's

2017 Top 20 Festival & Event Winners

January 1, 2017, Polar Bear Dip, Perdido Key, FL, www.FlorAbama.com
The Flora-Bama Lounge on the Florida-Alabama state line on Perdido Key hosts this popular splash in the Gulf of Mexico. The annual submergence into the icy cold waters provides great laughs and fun for the whole family. After the Polar Bear Dip is completed, everyone joins in a southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and warms up with good music and beverages.

January 6-February 28, 2017, Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana, Southwest Louisiana, www.SWLAMardiGras.com
Southwest Louisiana hosts the second largest Mardi Gras in Louisiana. With more than 60 krewes, the whole family will have something to celebrate. The excitement kicks off on January 6 with the annual 12th Night Celebration, as the royal courts from 2016 usher in the new year in style with their extraordinary and intricate costumes. After 12th Night, Laissez les bons temps rouler, as the celebration and festivities pack the calendar until Fat Tuesday on February 28. As the Mardi Gras weekend approaches the celebration really kicks into full gear with parades, cook-offs, balls, galas and more. Don’t miss the 2017 Royal Gala on February 27, as the royal courts of krewes parade for the public in full regalia at Lake Charles Civic Center. Set your alarm clocks on February 28 as Fat Tuesday starts off early with the Iowa Chick run followed by live music, gumbo and the Knight of Columbus Hall. Afterwards, reserve your spot for the grand finale of SWLA Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Krewes Parade featuring elaborate floats, costumes and plenty of beads that winds through Lake Charles.

January 13-14, 2017, Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival , Cameron, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The Annual Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival will highlight all the local, natural resource industries in the area. The festival caters to all ages and interests, featuring parades, a Gumbo Cook-off, pageants, a 5k and 1 Mile Run/Walk, dances, Cajun music, exhibits and a carnival complete with amusements rides. And don’t forget about the unique contests like duck and goose calling, trap setting, nutria and muskrat skinning, oyster shucking and skeet shooting. The dog trials are always a favorite among hunters! These contests and more make this a memorable experience for the whole family and a reason why people keep coming back to Southwest Louisiana’s “oldest and coldest” festival. Proceeds benefit the Cameron Parish Junior Livestock program as well as a valedictorian scholarship for the local high schools.

January 13-16, 2017, Martin Luther King Jr. Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival honors the courageous effort and sacrifices of Martin Luther King, Jr. The festivities kick off with a memorial breakfast, held at Trinity Baptist Church on Friday, January 13, which honors outstanding individuals in the community. The celebration continues on Monday, January 16, with the Family Day Festival where guests can enjoy live, local and national entertainers in the R&B, Blues, Zydeco and Southern Soul genres. Kids of all ages will get a chance to catch throws at the parade, which will depart from Lake Charles Civic Center. A day of commemoration and fun, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival is a celebration for the whole family.

January 23-28, 2017, Charleston Restaurant Week, Charleston, WV, www.CWVRestaurantWeek.com
Warm up this winter with menus that satisfy at Charleston Restaurant Week. Chow down on three-course meals for only three dollars from local restaurants of all varieties. This event has grown from 8 restaurants in its first year to twenty restaurants in its third year. This sell-out event is a six-day promotion of Charleston’s tastiest establishments. This year, expect more food than ever, look out for an exclusive preview called “First Course” and expanded regional advertising.

January 28, 2017, 16th Annual African American Cultural Celebration, Raleigh, NC, www.NCMuseumofHistory.org
The African American Cultural Celebration is North Carolina’s official statewide kickoff to Black History Month. This lively festival celebrates North Carolina’s rich and diverse African American heritage. Black residents have played an integral role in shaping the state’s politics, education, literacy, arts and religious practices. This annual event, co-sponsored by the N.C. African American Heritage Commission, brings together cultural organizations and presenters from across the state for a day of free programs that highlight the state’s African American history and culture. More than 75 presenters participate, including musicians, storytellers, dancers, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, re-enactors, and chefs. Visitors of all ages and backgrounds enjoy fun, hands-on activities that enhance their learning experiences. High-quality visual artists and craftsmen demonstrate their work throughout the museum. Each year, nationally known authors and poets share their work in the Literature and the Spoken Word Area. Come see the historic presentations, dramatic performances and film screenings that celebrate North Carolina’s African American Heritage.

January 17-March 26, 2017, Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS), Ocala, FL, www.HitsShows.com/ocala/hits-ocala-winter-circuit
The Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) Ocala Winter Show Jumping Circuit is a 10-week meet beginning January 17 and ending with the big One Million Dollar Grand Prix Finale on Sunday, March 26. Growing in size and popularity, families travel far and wide to Ocala to participate in the HITS competitions. The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit has become a major sports attractions and destination in the Ocala/Marion County area, bringing in a significant number of spectators from both in and out of state.

January 25-30, 2017, 20th Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, Titusville, FL, www.SpaceCoastBirdingAndWildlifeFestival.org
The Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival highlights the importance of nature-based activities on Florida’s Space Coast. The Festival is a premier event offering opportunities for attendees to explore this world-renowned natural area of Florida, home to the largest collection of endangered wildlife and plants in the continental United State and over 300 species of birds. The Festival offers field trips, outdoor workshops, classroom and keynote presentations by bird experts, pelagic boat trips, a nature-based trade show, art show and competition and the Raptor Project. Don’t miss the special programs and outdoor opportunities to work with national and internationally known photographers.

February 2-4, 2017, The North Carolina Jazz Festival, Wilmington, NC, www.NCJazzFestival.com
The North Carolina Jazz Festival is one of the oldest traditional jazz festivals in the U.S. This party sounds off on Thursday evening with a special event concert, “Styles of Jazz”, where several styles of the genre will be celebrated. Friday and Saturday evenings, guests will enjoy 14 All-Star musicians from around the world as they present seven sets of Traditional Jazz, with a different leader for each set. This event takes place at the Wilmington Hilton Riverside and brings attendees from across the U.S. and beyond for a weekend where jazz rules the night, but the days are free for exploring the local historic sites, beaches, golf courses, art galleries, shops and fine dining restaurants.

February 2-4, 2017, Southwest District Livestock Show & Rodeo, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
Called “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” the Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo returns to the Burton Complex with rodeo performances, livestock shows, Queen’s Pageant, a stick-horse rodeo, appearances by Miss Rodeo Louisiana and more. The “mane” attraction is the professional rodeo performances that kick into gear each night featuring bucking broncos, thundering hooves and cheering fans. Don’t miss the Western Heritage Days, celebrating cowboys, the great outdoors and all things western. Sure to “draw” a crowd, don’t miss the shoot-out, petting zoo, vittles and more. Mosey on over to the SWLA Western Heritage Rodeo Trail Ride and Parade that will kick off Thursday.

February 3-5, 2017, Athens Wine Weekend, Athens, GA, www.AthensWineWeekend.com
Bottoms up! Sip the weekend away at Athens Wine Weekend. This yearly event benefits The Classic Center Cultural Foundation. The Foundation helps provide performing and culinary arts scholarships for high school and college students and supports various arts programs in the Athens community. The weekend features a special amuse-bouche presentation on Friday, a grand tasting, premier wine seminars and a six-course gourmet dinner on Saturday and finally, the weekend comes to close Sunday with a sparkling wine brunch. New this year to Athens Wine weekend, sip while shopping for a good cause at local pop-up shops around the venue.

February 4, 2017, Double Bridge Run, Pensacola, FL, www.DoubleBridgeRun.com
Don’t walk, run to one of the country’s premier 15K races in the country—The Pensacola Double Bridge Run. This 15K carries runners over two bridges, across Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound, which are complete with stunning ocean views. The course also takes runners from downtown Pensacola with a tour that includes the historic district, and picturesque Bayfront Parkway, a run through Gulf Breeze, and onto Pensacola Beach. The 5K invites both runners and walkers to travel from Gulf Breeze to beautiful Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island and the Gulf Islands Seashore. A Kids Fun Run wraps up the action along the Gulf of Mexico. Run from the winter blues by escaping to Pensacola’s Double Bridge Run.

February 4-5, 2017, Brooksville Native American Festival, Brooksville, FL, www.BrooksvilleNativeAmericanFestival.com
The Brooksville Native American Festival immerses guests in Native American art, culture and history. The event features two full days of entertainment, including music, dance, primitive skills demonstrations and more. Past entertainment has included The Big Mountain Family, Ulali, Nahui Ollin Aztec Dancers and a Men’s Fancy Dance Competition. New this year, is the Na Ka Oi Polynesian dancers who heat up the stage with a fire knife show. Vendors offer handmade and Native American inspired art, crafts and jewelry. Numerous food trucks sell native foods such as: Indian tacos, buffalo burgers and fry bread. The festival supports local organizations such as the veterans clubs, the Hernando Historical Society, 88.5 WMNF community radio and the blood mobile by providing them free booths at the event.

February 11-12, 2017, ArtsFest, Stuart, Florida, https://martinartsorg.presencehost.net/news_events/artsfest/artsfest.html
For 30 years, the Arts Council of Martin County has hosted ArtsFest in beautiful downtown Stuart, Florida. ArtsFest attracts more than 125 artists to participate in this juried art show. Over 30,000 patrons enjoy everything from paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry and ceramics. The art show may be the main attraction but the Arts Council incorporates all components of the arts to give guests a unique experience. For the third year in a row, local chefs will compete in a “Chopped” culinary competition preparing a meal on site from a box of mystery ingredients. Grammy award winning flautist, Nestor Taures will take the stage and then a one-act play— Friends Welcome: The One with the B-word fills in the 23-year gap since the hit TV Show Friends aired, showing us the lives of 21-year old Ben Gellar and the 18-year-old Buffay triplets.


February 23-25, 2017, Georgia National Rodeo & Junior Livestock Show, Perry, GA, www.GeorgiaNationalRodeo.com
The fun times roll—and ride—at the Georgia National Rodeo & Junior Livestock Show in Perry, Georgia. The Rodeo is sanctioned by the PRCA. The even features specialty acts, plus cowboys and cowgirls from across the country compete in seven categories: saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, bull riding and barrel racing. Points earned at the rodeo qualify riders for the national finals held every December in Las Vegas. The Junior Livestock show features Georgia’s 4-H and FFA students competing for statewide championships. Every year is different, new competitors and stock, make each night new and exciting.

February 24, 2017, Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardiGras.com
Held at one of the country’s original celebration sites, Pensacola hosts this family-oriented Mardis Gras Parade in Pensacola’s historical downtown. Crowds catch beads, doubloons and moonpies galore at this classic event. The parade takes place on Palafox and Garden Streets. The Parade starts at 2:00pm and continues until around 6:00pm. Have little ones? Take advantage of the children’s viewing area where there is kid friendly food, face painting, and other family friendly entertainment. This is the largest and most extravagant parade in the area, bringing in hundreds of thousands of guests each year.

February 25, 2017, Krewe of Gemini Grand Parade XXVIII, Shreveport, LA, www.KreweOfGemini.com
Celebrate carnival season in North Louisiana. The Krewe of Gemini will celebrate its 28th year of throwing the largest free event in Shreveport. The night before the parade, organizers host the “Load the Floats” party at 2101 East Texas Street in Bossier City beginning at 5 p.m. The parade will roll the next evening beginning on Clyde Fant near the Sci-port, travelling down the Shreveport-Barksdale Highway, then onto East Kings Highway to conclude at Preston Boulevard. Invite family and friends to enjoy the festivities and yell, “Throw Me Something Mister!” Expect more than a million beads, cups, doubloons, toys and other trinkets to fly from the floats and into the crowds.

February 25, 2017, Krewe of Lafitte Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardiGras.com
Come enjoy the only illuminated nighttime parade in Pensacola. The Krewe of Lafitte Mardi Gras Parade entertains with marching bands, lighted floats and great throws as they kick off the Mardi Gras celebration in Pensacola. This is the largest Krewe in Pensacola, including 275 Gentlemen Pirates. This fun-filled time rolls out at 7 p.m.

February 26, 2017, Krewe of Wrecks Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardisGras.com
The Krewe of Wrecks Parade is a Mardis Gras parade with an island atmosphere. This Pensacola classic will have the best floats throwing beads, candy and doubloons. No one will leave the island beadles! Afterwards, parade parties are everywhere and the biggest is on the boardwalk, at the shell, where parade participants wait for the results of judges and trophies to be awarded. Of course the music is playing and partiers dance the night away.

March 2-12, 2017, Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, FL, www.FLStrawberryFestival.com
With nearly 10,000 acres of strawberries grown annually in Plant City, Florida, the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, it is only appropriate that their harvest be given a proper celebration. Since 1930, the Florida Strawberry Festival has strived to provide visitors from around the globe with a family-friendly event that has something to offer everyone. A board of directors, staff and nearly 2,500 volunteers from around the community work together to host 24 headline entertainment acts, seven livestock shows, a midway of 90+ attractions, hundreds of concessionaires, daily free entertainment acts, competitive exhibits and much more—all while paying homage to the strawberry.

March 3-5, 2017, Swamp Fest, Weeki Wachee, FL, www.SwampFestWeekiWachee.com/
The annual Swamp Fest began in 1993 as an effort to help the communities of Weeki Wachee and Hernando Beach in the aftermath of the No-Name Storm. The event is now held at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Enjoy shows held at the park as well as festival activities including local musical talent, arts and crafts vendors, prize drawings and contests. The event features a Swamp Monster contest and a mascot contest for artists to submit their designs to be printed T-Shirts sold at the event.

March 4-5, 2017, Jerry Brown Arts Festival, Hamilton, AL, www.JBAF.org
The Jerry Brown Arts Festival (JBAF) is an indoor, juried arts festival headlined and named in honor of Hamilton resident and Smithsonian potter, Jerry Brown. Brown is a ninth-generation potter and was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship in 1992 and in 2003 he received the Alabama Heritage Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Artists from throughout the Southeastern United States participate in this two-day festival celebrating the festival’s theme, “Reflections of the South.” Art isn’t the only thing that feeds the senses, this festival is also known for its delicious food. Make sure to stay fueled while shopping for one-of-a-kind pieces, by chowing down on burgers, fried Oreos, funnel cakes and more.

March 6-11, 2017, 2017 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Hilton Head Island, SC, www.HHIPC.org
Young Pianists go key to key at The Hilton Head International Piano Competition. This is one of the leading events of its kind in the United States and is in its 22nd year. In 2017, twenty of the world’s best pianists, ages 13-17, will compete for $18,500 in cash prizes, a return performance with Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra as well as other performance opportunities. The competitors are adjudicated by a panel of five jurors who are internationally known for their careers as concert pianists and teachers. Only a few locations in the United State host a piano competition at this level of excellence and international renown. Visitors travel from 32 states and eight countries to watch this show-stopping competition.

March 10-12, 2017, Black Heritage Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The annual Black Heritage Festival features live entertainment, mouthwatering food and great family fun. The festival brings together the cultures of Africa and Southwest Louisiana and highlights the best in the community. While celebrating diversity, culture and education, performers fill the air with the sounds of legendary Zydeco, Jazz, R&B and Gospel music. Saturday’s events will take place at the Lake Charles Civic Center and will include a Baby Expo/Healthy Baby Contest, Vendor’s Expo, Africana Culture Performance Extravaganza, Zydeco Aerobics, a Hall of Fame Ceremony, educational workshops, magic shows and much more. Come hungry because food booths in the interactive experience will serve plenty of tasty Louisiana Creole and traditional African-American foods, including gumbo, jambalaya and barbeque.

March 11-12, 2017, Art in the Park, Brooksville, FL, www.HernandoArts.org/index.php/art-in-the-park
The 33rd annual Art in the Park is a weekend for visual and performing arts enthusiasts. The Hernando County Arts Council hosts the event in Tom Varn Park and has booths for over 100 exhibitors to display and sell their art. This event includes a juried art show with prizes for top contenders. Exhibitors include fine arts, crafts, musicians and local food vendors. A student exhibit displays the works of all ages from Hernando County public and private schools. Art demonstrators and the Hernando Symphony Orchestra provide entertainment throughout the day. Have little ones? Don’t miss the Kids Zone—complete with a petting zoo and a hands-on booth for children to experience playing different types of instruments with the help of musicians on site.

March 11-12, 2017, Forsythia Festival, Forsyth, GA, www.ForsythiaFestival.com
For 30 years, The Forsythia Festival has celebrated community and crafts during this two-day event. The festival season is kicked-off with Hello Yellow, a month prior to the festival weekend when the town is encouraged to paint the town yellow. The festival is free to the public, featuring handmade arts and crafts, a 5k/one-mile fun run, tailgate toss, food and a children’s area. Additionally there is a faith-based singing competition celebrating music, faith and the community. There are also multiple events leading up to the awaited weekend, including the festival logo contest. New this year, expect a 30-year anniversary gala.

March 11-12, 18-19, 2017, Rock City’s Shamrock City, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/shamrock
Looking for the luck of the Irish? Visit Rock City’s 10th annual Irish celebration and festival—Shamrock City! This premiere St. Patrick’s Day event includes live Irish Music, Irish jig lessons, Irish food, specialty beer, dance performances, costumed characters and fun for the whole family. You can even see the High Falls flowing green! If you have little ones, don’t miss the Shamrock Quest Kid’s Adventure and be sure to stop by the Fudge Kitchen, which will have green fudge making demonstrations throughout the day.

March 17-18, 2017, Iowa Rabbit Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
Celebrating the economic and culinary impact rabbits have in Southwest Louisiana, the annual Iowa Rabbit Festival is a one-of-a-kind event. Enjoy all things rabbit—from rabbit gumbo to the crowning of the new Miss Bunny, who will go on to represent the festival at other statewide competitions. The family-friendly event has some of the best music in the area from local Cajun favorites to regional headliners. From live music, to cook-offs, this festival is a hare-raising good time. All proceeds from the festival go to support the community of Iowa and various other youth organizations, schools and non-profit groups.

March 18, 2017, McGuire’s Prediction Run 5K, Pensacola, FL, www.McGuiresIrishPub.com
McGuire’s Prediction Run is celebrating its 40th year in 2017. With more than 5,000 participants, it is Pensacola’s largest run and the nation’s largest prediction run. Each runner/walker predicts how long it will take them to complete the 3.1 mile course. The finishers who come closest to the time predicted on their registration form, wins! The use of watches or timing devices will disqualify participants. Run into St. Patrick’s Day fun at McGuire’s 40th Annual Prediction Run.

March 18, 2017, Southwest Florida Reading Festival, Fort Myers, FL, www.Readfest.org
The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is the largest one-day reading festival in Florida and has a first-rate reputation with prime authors and publishers. The festival’s allure is the diverse line-up of approximately 25 nationally acclaimed, best-selling authors for all reading interests and ages. This festival is so loved that attendees come back year after year. It is a fun, free event for the community and draws and average of 18,000 people to downtown Fort Myers for the day. The fans attend to hear and meet best-selling authors, participate in contests and activities and find the latest and greatest in books, technology and accessories. In addition to author appearances, there are programs and shows for youth, a free book for every child and teen, a teen battle of the bands, crafts and a graffiti and chalk wall.

March 18-19, 2017, Lake Charles Civic Ballet, Assemble` 2017, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The Lake Charles Civic Ballet and the Southwest Louisiana arts community will present Assemble` 2017: Alice in Wonderland at the Lake Charles Civic Center. This classic fairytale will be transformed into a full-length ballet in two acts, featuring the debut of William G. Rose’s original composition for a 16-piece orchestra. The show also features whimsical costumes, transformative sets, vibrant lighting and original choreography—all of which will be a collaboration of numerous community members, helping to encompass a variety of dance and music styles including tap, jazz, contemporary, circus acrobatics and more.

March 20-April 8, 2017, 77th Annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage, Columbus, MS, www.VisitColumbusMS.org/index.php/attractions/Spring%20Pilgrimage#top
Long recognized as one of the best and most authentic home tours in the South, the annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage offers a varied array of cultural activities to celebrate the best Columbus has to offer. Approaching its 77th year, Pilgrimage showcases resplendent antebellum mansions, inviting gardens and magnificent churches, while providing a feast for the senses. The food-fun starts with the Pilgrimage Kickoff Party crawfish and shrimp boil and ends with a timeless garden party as guests stroll through the Colonnade Garden with mint juleps and cheese straws in hand. In between the tasteful, highly-anticipated events, Pilgrimage sports the 4th annual Pilgrimage Half Marathon/5K run, enlightens guests through Tales From The Crypt performances in historic Friendship Cemetery and serves up Catfish in the Alley—a 2014 Garden and Gun Magazine Editor’s Choice event that is complete with cool, soulful blues and handcrafted items presented in Artisan’s Alley. Columbus’ unparalleled hospitality thrives throughout the 10-day event with horse-drawn carriage rides through one of Columbus’ National Register Historic Districts and double decker bus rides to Pilgrimage tour homes.

March 23-26, 2017, Festival of Flowers, Mobile, AL, www.FestivalOfFlowers.com
Have a “Wildly Whimsical” time at the 2017 Festival of Flowers in Mobile, Alabama. Imagination and intrigue meets fun and fantasy at the largest flower show in the southeast. This year the show celebrates its 24th year with its most impressive array of blooming beauty. The light-hearted theme, “Wildly Whimsical” sets the tone for a one-of-a-kind experience that will evoke curiosity and wonder in all who travel through the festival’s fanciful gardens. Come and see the wonders of this region’s most popular floral extravaganza—it’s truly a feast for the senses. Enjoy expertly landscaped gardens, an art competition, shopping and kids activities.

March 24-April 16, 2016, 2017, Rock City’s Fairytale Nights, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, www.SeeRockCity.com/fairytale
Adventure awaits at Rock City’s newest spring event, Fairytale Nights—where dreams come to life! Come on a journey and travel to a faraway kingdom where magic is around every turn. Help Little Red Riding Hood avoid the Big Bad Wolf follow Jack as he ventures off the beanstalk into the giant’s lair, enjoy radiant gardens with Cinderella and learn to sword fight with a knight. This enchanted event includes a kid’s activity center where children can meet their favorite characters and collect stamps in their passport to enchantment.

March 25, 2017, Coastal Living Show, Wilmington, NC www.CoastalLivingShow.com
Life’s a beach at the Coastal Living Show. This event is in its 38th year and will be held at the Grand Ballroom and River Concourse of the Wilmington Convention Center from 10a.m.-5p.m. The show features a variety of gifts, products and services to make everything about coastal living beautiful. Come spruce up the home, garden, office, the entertainment collection and even personal wardrobes. In addition, there will be door prizes, raffles, exhibitor seminars and food—something for everyone in the family. Admission is free and all proceeds from Coastal Living Show will go towards various local organizations that serve to improve the lives of women and children.

March 25-26, 2017, Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival, Conyers, GA, www.ConyersCherryBlossomFest.com
In 1982, Maxwell (a previous local Japanese manufacturing company) and the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce held the first Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival to further nurture the friendship and exchange of Japanese culture. Scheduled during the blooming of the beautiful Yoshino Cherry Trees, the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival brings the community together to focus on cultural understanding and friendship through art, music, dance, crafts, food and entertainment. The Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival is held at the Georgia International Horse Park and continues to grow and strive for excellence each year. The Southeast Festivals Association awarded the event “Best Festival in the Southeast” in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2015.

March 27-April 3, 2017, Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Champions Tour, Saucier, MS, http://2017mgrc.com/index/php/
This three-day, 54-hole stroke competition takes place at the nationally renowned and world-class Fallen Oak, designed by Tom Fazio. With seven World Golf Hall of Famers and 17 major championship winners, the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic field will feature some of the greatest golfers in the world. PRG Tour Champions is a membership-based organization of professional golfers ages 50 and older. This is a Golf Channel televised event.

March 31-April 1, 2017, Springtime Tallahassee, Tallahassee, FL, www.SpringtimeTallahassee.com
Experience true southern hospitality with one of the largest and most celebrated festivals in the southeast—Springtime Tallahassee. This free two-day event kicks off with a Friday Night Music Festival featuring national entertainment acts along with tasty food and beverage vendors. Saturday begins with the Grand Parade featuring over 100 colorful entries and is followed by the famous Jubilee in the Park, which offers handcrafted items, a children’s park and two entertainment stages in downtown Tallahassee.

March 31-April 2, 2017, Summerville Family YMCA’s Flowertown Festival, Summerville, SC, www.FlowertownFestival.org
For 45 years, the Flowertown Festival has been the premier fundraising event for the Summerville YMCA. Every spring, thousands of people visit Summerville to see nature’s bounty awash in color, from the hot pink azaleas, to the purple wisteria, to the delicate white dogwood. On this three-day weekend, 200,000 festivalgoers visit this gracious Southern town to take in the flowers and attend one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast. The festival hosts nearly 500 vendors from arts and crafts, businesses, nonprofits, farmer’s market and commercial food and beverage. This family-friendly event has a Children’s Jubilee and a music venue.

April 1-2, 2017, Pensacola Jazzfest, Pensacola, FL, www.JazzPensacola.com
The 34th annual Pensacola JazzFest is a free all-jazz festival held in historic Seville Square in Downtown Pensacola. With its beautiful live oaks and historic surroundings, Seville Square and the gazebo stage offer the perfect setting for this springtime party. This year, four headliner artists and groups are coming from around the country to fill the spring air with the sweet sounds of jazz. In addition to a great music line up, guests will enjoy food by local vendors, beer and wine, arts and crafts and jazz merchandise is available for purchase.

April 2-3, 2017, Historic Pendleton Spring Jubilee, Pendleton, SC, http://www.CrownOftheCarolinas.org/?page_id=204
For almost 40 years, the Historic Pendleton Spring Jubilee has been a ‘rite of spring’ in Upstate South Carolina. Held the first full weekend in April each year, this FREE two-day Arts and Crafts festival is well known for its nearly 100 juried artists from the region and across the country selling handmade works of art on the Village Green. Dogwood blossoms and daffodils adorn The Green, while music fills the air with the Blues, Celtic, Bluegrass, Beach, Gospel and Rock & Roll. Visitors shop for one of a kind treasures including 2D and 3D Mixed Media, Pottery, Metal Work, Painting, Photography, Glass, Pen and Ink, Woodcraft, Fiber/Leather/Wearables, Basketry and Children’s arts. Sample delicious foods from various vendors as you shop the days away. Spring Jubilee is truly ‘the place to be’ on the first full weekend of April where visitors experience first-hand the hospitality of Upstate South Carolina.

April 5-9, 2017, North Carolina Azalea Festival at Wilmington, Inc., www.NCAzaleaFestival.org
For more than 60 years, the folks of Southeastern North Carolina have been throwing the best party in the South and you’re invited! The North Carolina Azalea Festival is Wilmington’s annual community celebration and the largest event of its kind in the state. Founded in 1948, the Azalea Festival has emerged as the area’s premier event. Each year the festivities begin when Queen Azalea arrives to open the five-day extravaganza. The festival’s concerts, fairs and special events attract 300,000 people each year. There are over 50 events to enjoy—including concerts, art shows, a street fair with interactive displays, home and garden tours, a parade and special exhibits. Whether enjoying live music, a gala or partaking in the delicious food and beverages this event offers, the blooming azaleas set the backdrop, offering a colorful testimony to the rich heritage of coastal Carolina.

A pril 6-8, 2017, Louisiana Railroad Days Festival, DeQuincy, LA, www.LaRailroadDaysFestival.com
This Southwest Louisiana tradition will make you stop in your tracks! Festival goers can take a step back in time at the annual DeQuincy Railroad Days Festival, celebrating the history of the railroad where in 1897, the tracks of two rail companies converged at the present-day DeQuincy. Attendees can take tours of the historic railroad museum built in 1923 or enter the Railroad Days Queen’s pageant. Families can join in on the Rail Bicycle Ride—open to everyone from the skilled cyclist to the tiniest training wheels. Enjoy carnival rides, food vendors and a parade. Other events include a 5k, model train show, old timers’ reunion, the Railroad Idol Contest and live music. Celebrating 34 years, this locals’ favorite won’t be losing steam any time soon.
April 7-9, 2017, Original Downtown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.DowntownCrawfest.com
Bring a friend -or two- and your appetite to the Original Downtown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival. Each year, this event exceeds expectations with the amount of food, music and entertainment it offers. This year, expect over 10,000 pounds of crawfish, a number of featured artists playing Pop, Cajun and Zydeco music and the best food and fun at one of the largest indoor/outdoor festivals in Southwest Louisiana. Enjoy carnival rides, a parade through downtown Lake Charles, live entertainment, a crawfish eating contest, a pageant, food vendors and good company. The event is held at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Kids 10 and under are free.

April 8-9, 14-15, 2017, KidFest! Ridgeland, Ridgeland, MS, www.KidFestRidgeland.com
Four days of affordable family fun, KidFest! Ridgeland proved a unique opportunity for families to spend time together in a beautiful city park and participate in a variety of shows, activities and attractions. Each year the festival features different national touring acts like Zoppe’—an Italian Family Circus, Wild About Monkeys, Sea Lion Splash and many others. In addition, festival guests have the opportunity to participate in activities such as the Nylon Zoo and Backyard Circus, as well as ride carnival rides, pony rides and train rides. All of the shows and attractions are presented in intimate settings so everything is “up close and personal.” All shows and activities are included in admission price. At KidFest! Ridgeland, families are encouraged to participate in as many of the festivities as their hearts desire.

April 8, 2017, Lewisburg Chocolate Festival, Lewisburg, WV, www.LewisburgChocolateFestival.com
The Lewisburg Chocolate Festival kicks off the spring season in April, when the downtown merchants use chocolate to entice folks to visit downtown. In 2016, there were 24 different locations offering chocolate tastings. Each tasting is a ticket and each ticket costs $1. The event includes professional chef demonstrations, chocolate displays, a hands-free mousse-eating contest, chocolate themed dinners, a 10k run and various children activities. The Chocolate Festival originated as a way to draw visitors to the area during the shoulder season. It continues to be an important fundraiser for the United Way of Greenbrier Valley. This year expect more varieties of chocolate, more chocolate-themed free movie viewings and more restaurants and bands to feed the senses.
April 16, 2017, Easter Sunrise Service, Stone Mountain, GA, http://www.StoneMountainPark.com/Events/Easter-Sunrise-Service
Experience serenity and peace as the Stone Mountain Sunrise Association presents two simultaneous, non-denominational Easter Services at the top of the Mountain and at the base of the Mountain on Memorial Lawn. The event began in 1944, before the land around Stone Mountain was officially owned by the state. Lucille Lanford, from Stone Mountain United Methodist Church, suggested that the church’s youth group climb to the top of Stone Mountain on Easter morning to watch the sunrise. The event grew from that one youth group to thousands ascending the mountain every Easter since.

April 20-29, 2017, Come-See-Me-Festival, Rock Hill, SC, https://www.ComeSeeMe.org/
Winner of the 2014 and 2015 SC Event of the Year, the Come-See-Me Festival showcases Rock Hill with 10 days of music, sports, community activities and garden parties. Comprised of more than 80 events and activities, the Festival presents guests with signature events including Beach Bash, Parade, Moonlight Jazz & Blues and Gourmet Gardens. Come-See-Me also hosts a Tailgate Party and Fireworks Extravaganza to a crowd of more than 20,000. Kids take part in the Mayor’s Frog Jump, Teddy Bear Tea Party, Chalk on Main, Musical Mania, Sundaes with Glen (the mascot), Healthy Kids Zone and Everything Trucks. Competitions include a half-marathon, 5K road races, 1-mile fun run, Cornhole Throwdown, tennis tournament and Barbeque Cook-Off. Seventeen musical acts entertain for free throughout the festival and local talent takes the stage on Broadway Night. “Come-See” why over 128,000 people attend this event.

April 20-May 5, 2017, Kentucky Derby Festival, Louisville, KY, www.KDF.org
The Kentucky Derby Festival stretches a famous “two minutes” into a month-long party. What the Run for the Run for the Roses is to horse racing, the Derby Festival is to community celebrations. The Festival is one of the premiere events of its kind in the world and a proud winner of the International Festival & Events Association Award for the Best Overall Festival eight times. The 2017 Festival blasts off on April 22nd with the Opening Ceremonies—Thunder Over Louisville, one of the nation’s largest annual fireworks extravaganzas! The following weeks of entertainment promise something for everyone. For sports fans, there is basketball, volleyball and golf. For music lovers, the concerts are almost non-stop. With two-thirds of the Festival events free, families can enjoy numerous just-for-the-kids activities without stretching the pocketbook. Other highlights include a half and full marathon, cycling event, hot-air balloon festival and live bed racing. The festival includes several formal affairs as well as casual foot-stomping good times all around the community. From elephant ears and corndogs at the Chow Wagon, to cocktail hours and wine and beer tastings, culinary adventures abound. Don’t walk, race to the Kentucky Derby Festival!

April 21-27, 2017, ArtFields, Lake City, South Carolina, www.ArtfieldSC.org
ArtFields started in 2013 with a simple goal: honor the artists of the Southeast with a week’s worth of celebration and competition in the heart of a traditional Southeastern small town. With over 120,000 dollars awarded based on the input of every visitor to AirFields and a panel of judges made up of acclaimed artists and educators, the competition offers life-changing amounts of prize money to all artists in all media who live in the twelve Southeastern states. Over 400 masterpieces will be displayed in locally owned venues, from renovated warehouses from the 1920’s to Smithsonian qualified art galleries to upscale restaurants and boutiques, in a mutual celebration of art and community. This once agricultural community becomes a living art gallery for nine days during ArtFields.

April 21-23, 2017, Kentucky Crafted: The Market, Lexington, KY, http://ArtsCouncil.ky.gov/KAC/Showcasing/2017Market.htm
Kentucky Crafted: The Market is the Kentucky Arts Councils Signature event produced each year in the spring. This renowned event features the highest quality art, craft, literature, music, film and food found in the state. More than 200 Kentucky crafted and select out-of-state artists, musicians and artisanal food makers create their finest work available to wholesale buyers and the general public during this three-day market. The Market earned the title “Number one Fair & Festival” of AmericanStyle Magazine four years in a row. This year, expect new exhibitors, a new line-up of musicians and new hands-on activities for the family.

April 22-23, 2017, 42nd Annual Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival, Melrose, LA, www.MelrosePlantation.org
A premier event for over 40 years, the 42nd annual Melrose plantation Arts and Crafts Festival is a weekend of fun held on the grounds of the historic Melrose Plantation. Each year the festival features food vendors and over 100 artists and craftsmen throughout the South showcasing original and unique works of art, photographs, stained glass windows, handmade jewelry, plants, gourmet pickles and jellies, clothing, toys, woodworking products, pottery and other arts and crafts treasures. This year expect an extensive music line up, a more traditional blend of food vendors capturing the flavors of the local Creole cuisine and new innovative artisans to join the line-up.

April 26-30, 2017, Beaufort Wine and Food Weekend, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortWineAndFood.com
Beaufort Wine and Food is a non-profit that has been celebrated for over 12 years and during that time has become one of the Eastern NC’s premier culinary and tourism events. Since its inception in 2004, Beaufort Wine and Food has raised over $450,000 for charities and non-profits, donating over $80,000 to 19 organizations from its 2015 April festival alone. The multitude of events held during the five-day festival each April range from intimate wine dinners, to the crowd favorite Vin de Mer, where guests are immersed in a culinary tour de force offering 300 wine labels and cuisine from dozens of local and regional restaurants all paired together in perfect harmony. Wine and culinary talent from around the world come together in the historic seaside town of Beaufort, NC, all in the name of charity.

April 27-29, 2017, 96th Annual Rose Show and Festival, Thomasville, GA, www.ThomasvilleGA.com
Held in beautiful, historic downtown Thomasville, the Rose Festival has been a Southwest Georgia tradition since the 1920’s. Enjoy roses, roses and more roses, plus four flower shows, two evening parades, live music and street dance featuring the “Swingin’ Medallions,” fireworks, fabulous car and truck show, plain air painting and sale, golf tournament, 10K, arts & crafts in Paradise Park, fantastic food and so much more. Plus, most of the events are free! Enjoy Due South on Saturday night pairing bountiful local foods, chefs, makers and music for a lively event in Downtown Thomasville.

April 27-30, 2017, Vidalia Onion Festival 2017, Vidalia, GA, http://www.VidaliaOnionFestival.com
Each spring, Vidalia anticipates the harvest of Georgia’s Official State Vegetable, the internationally known Vidalia Sweet onion. The occasion is celebrated with an array of fun-filled activities. The Vidalia Onion Festival has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as on of the Five Don’t Miss Festivals Across the U.S. by MSNBC. The festival is a four-day event that offers something for everyone. Pre-festival activities begin with the Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant and the Culinary Extravaganza. The Children’ Parade and Movie Under the Stars take place on Thursday evening Friday brings the Opening Ceremonies with a Street Dance and fireworks. Additional weekend events include arts and crafts, carnival, onion eating contest, recipe contest and public tasting and the Chuck Wagon Cook-Off. This year the famous VOF Air Show returns with two days of aerobatic performers, static displays, helicopter rides, skydiving and hot air balloons.

April 28-30, 2017, Pensacola Crawfish Creole Fiesta, Pensacola, FL, www.FiestaOffiveFlags.org
Come hungry to the Pensacola Crawfish Creole Fiesta. Held in the historic waterfront Bartram Park, this event boasts 16,000 pounds of crawfish! The fiesta is an annual celebration of the Cajun influence in the Northwest Florida community. This is one of the largest crawfish boils in the state, with authentic bayou country entertainment. Enjoy watching or chowing down in the crawfish eating competition, listen to live music and enjoy activities for the whole family.

April 28-30, 2017, Westlake Family Fun & Food Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Established in 1992, the Westlake Family Fun & Food Festival started as a small town festival bringing the community together for good times with family and friends. Over the years, the festival has grown in size and popularity and people from all around the world join in on the fun-filled weekend, with activities for the young, or just the young at heart, everyone will love the games, train rides, moon walks and more. And no festival would be complete without great food! Attendees are always lining up for more gumbo, catfish, sausage on a stick, Boudin and the famous Bosco Burgers. With spring flowers blooming and free admission there’s no reason not to get out and enjoy the fun at this family-friendly favorite.

April 29-30, 2017, Main Street Festival, Franklin, TN, www.FranklinMainStreetFest.com
Voted Williamson county’s favorite event nine years in a row, Main Street Festival is a free outdoor street festival that takes place in historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee. With a crowd of about 120,000, this is one of Tennessee’s largest festivals. Guests can expect over 120 arts and crafts vendors, dozens of food vendors, two full stages of live entertainment, a kids zone with fun activities and a beer garden. This year, take the taste buds on a world tour with even more food vendors to make this an international eating experience. As you walk around the festival, let your nose guide the way to King Arthur Flour’s Bake truck—which will be giving away free freshly baked cookies.

April 30, 2017, 30th Annual Town of Mount Pleasant Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival, Mount Pleasant, SC, ExperienceMountPleasant.com
The Annual Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival pays tribute to local Shem Creek shrimpers and fishermen, offering a ceremonial boat parade where captains receive prayer for a safe and bountiful season. Overlooking beautiful Charleston Harbor in the picturesque Memorial Waterfront Park, the festival is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year for seafood lovers. In addition to the boat parade, participants are treated to savory samplings from some of Mount Pleasant’s favorite restaurants, live music, an arts & crafts show, shag-dancing, shrimp-eating contests and family-friendly activities. Free admission activities and parking shuttles are available. Food and event memorabilia are available for purchase with sales benefitting local charities. Fleet Week leading up to the event day is filled with fun activities throughout the town of Mount Pleasant.

May 4-14, 2017, Contraband Days, Louisiana Pirate Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
When you ask someone about festivals in Southwest Louisiana, the Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival usually is the first to come to mind. Unique to Lake Charles, the annual festival celebrates the legend of pirate Jean Lafitte. The story goes that pirate Jean Lafitte docked his boat right on the sandy shore of Lake Charles and buried his treasure somewhere along its banks. Venture down to the newly remodeled Lake Charles Civic Center seawall and visit with the modern-day “pirates,” in full regalia on boats out on the lake. On the first night, witness the cannon fire as the citizens of Lake Charles try to defend the seawall only to have the pirates capture the mayor, put him on trial and force him to walk the plank. Pirates of all ages are encouraged to come out during the two-week long festival with carnival rides, games and live music. Past performers include Grammy Award Winners Terrance Simien and Jo-El Sonnier and country super-star Josh Turner. For some good eats, head on over to the delicious Barbecue Cook-Off. Try your hand at the Firefighter Combat Challenge. You can also participate in activities from arm wrestling, to cycling the Tour Lafitte, running the 5-miler, or building your very own pirogue boat. Throw on your best eye patch and enter one of the costume contests or join in one of the pirate parades. The festival closes with spectacular fireworks over beautiful Lake Charles.

May 4, 2017, Taste of Alpharetta, Alpharetta, GA, http://www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com/what-to-do/taste-of-alpharetta/
The Taste of Alpharetta is an event visitors love and locals can’t get enough of. Dining in downtown Alpharetta at 60+ restaurants from around the local area has been a family tradition for 27 years. Attendees sample delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts from the top chefs in town. Foodies in attendance will enjoy culinary demonstrations bites that are sure to please every palate. The Music Stage will have harmonic rock/folk/R&B bands. A separate Culinary Competitions Stage will pair top area chefs against one another in five categories: Best Appetizer/Salad, Best Fast Casual, Best Fine Dining, Best Presentation and Best Dessert.

May 5-6, 2017, Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival, Meridian, MS, www.JimmieRodgersMusicFestival.com
The Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival is a showcase for contemporary artists of the Americana roots music genres of folk, bluegrass, country, gospel and blues. The festival was founded in 1953 when Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb spearheaded an effort to pay tribute to Jimmie Rodgers on the 20th anniversary of his death. Elvis Presley, Faith Hill and Merle Haggard have all appeared at the festival. Over the last two years, the show has featured performances by Jason Isbell, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Lone Bellow, Keller Williams, Lucinda Williams and many others. Held the first weekend of May in downtown Meridian on City Hall Green, the festival features two stages of music, a food court with Southern delicacies, a talent show and classic car show.

May 5-6, 2017, Main Steet Jazzfest 2017, Murfreesboro, TN, www.MainStreetJazzFest.net
Main Street JazzFest is a free, family-friendly, two-day music festival held in Murfreesboro’s historic downtown public square. The main stage performances on Saturday range from local jazz talent to well-known regional artists and exceptional national headline performances. On Friday evening, JazzFest showcases all nine high school jazz bands in Rutherford County on the Main Stage. JazzFest gives many high school students an exciting and highly anticipated opportunity to perform in front of a live audience. Large crowds attend Friday’s performances and return Saturday for more music and fun. On Saturday, many area middle schools perform along with schools from across the state. There’s also a Jazz Workshop featuring several professional jazz artists, facilitated by MTSU faculty. JazzFest also features a special children’s area known as Kids Alley and great food.

May 5-6, 2017, Market Street Festival, Columbus, MS, www.MarketStreetFestival.com
The Market Street Festival began in 1996 and has become the largest community festival in Lowndes County. Taking place in historic downtown Columbus the first weekend in May each year, this diverse, quality event celebrates its 22nd year in 2017. Between 38,000-40,000 gatherers enjoy the two-day festival each year. Peruse over 225 arts and crafts vendors, 30 food vendors and dozens of special events and activities for the entire family. Market Street Festival also features four entertainment stages showcasing over 20 musical acts throughout the weekend, a car show, tractor display, a hands-on children’s area, inflatables, high powered wings, pony rides, a petting zoo, train rides and various other activities for all ages and demographics. The festival kicks off on Friday evening with ‘Market Street After Dark’, a concert held on the banks of Tennessee Tombigbee River at the beautiful Columbus Riverwalk. The Riverwalk, which is within walking distance to downtown, is the perfect venue for the Friday night festival. There will be food and drink vendors, musical entertainment and “Mother Goose,” a local hero. Saturday morning starts bright and early with a 5k Fun Run and the Columbus Riverwalk and WCBI-TV hosts a “Crank It Up” car giveaway later in the day.

May 6-7, 2017, The Cotton Pickin’ Fair, Gay, GA, www.CPFair.org
The Cotton Pickin’ Fair is Georgia’s original AgriTourism event. It began back in 1972 on a 188-year-old farm as a single family’s community economic development project. A declining farm economy, a very poor cattle market and the opening of I-185 from LaGrange to Columbus, gave birth to an idea that would supplement farm income and keep the town of Gay in the public eye as an upscale antique center. Today, over two million visitors have enjoyed the work of the best artisans, antique specialists and craftsmen from across the U.S. and Canada every May and October. This May, enjoy a tour of the historic Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge. Freed Slave and famous builder Horace King constructed the bridge in 1840. It is the oldest and longest wooded covered bridge in Georgia. Bring home treasures to cherish, both antiques and memories, at The Cotton Pickin’ Fair.

May 6, 2017, Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival, Smithfield, NC, www.HamAndYam.com
The Ham & Yam Festival began in 1985 as a challenge from seven country ham producers in Johnston County, North Carolina to the ham producers of Smithfield, Virginia. As Johnston County is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, it is fitting for the festival to honor the agricultural heritage of the area. The festival now features a barbecue cook-off, which attracts great cooks from throughout the region to compete for cash prizes. Attendees can find many varieties of hams and yams at the festival—barbeque from the cook-off, country ham biscuits, hot dogs, ham tortas, sweet potato cheesecake pies, sweet potato ice cream, sweet potato lemonade and smoothies, sweet potato funnel cakes, baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato cupcakes, sweet potato fries and more! The festival hosts the “What’s the Yam Thing?” the contest is a favorite for school-aged children given the opportunity to turn sweet potatoes into works of arts. Visitors wander through more than 175 booths in the festival area where local nonprofits raise money for their organizations and vendors sell arts and crafts and a variety of other merchandise. The family-friendly event keeps crowds entertained with performances on three stages, inflatables, children’s games, pig races and more.


May 6, 2017, 43rd Annual Wooden Boat Show, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortWoodenBoatShow.com
Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or prefer to keep your feet on dry land, the 43rd Annual Wooden Boat Show has activities for all ages. This free event celebrates the art of North Carolina traditional wooden boatbuilding and the sport of boat racing. Dozens of handcrafted wooden boats will be on display, along with nautical demonstrations, and activities for children. Set sail in a traditional wooden boat, discover the hidden secret behind ships-in-a-bottle, or practice your boating skills in the Virtual Trainer. Don’t forget to stop by the vendors and of course visit all of our wooden boat exhibits. Wooden boat owners come from all over to be a part of the Beaufort Wooden Boat Show.

May 11, 2017, Gatlinburg Beans n’ Cornbread Festival, Gatlinburg, TN, https://www.Gatlinburg.com/event/gatlinburg-beans-and-cornbread-festival/
Gatlinburg celebrates its Appalachian culinary past with the Gatlinburg Beans n’ Cornbread Festival. This scrumptious event features a Beans and Cornbread Cook-Off, antique engines and lots of beans and cornbread for the tasting. Area restaurants, businesses and caterers will prepare traditional and original beans and cornbread recipes for tasting while vying for top honors in the cook-off. This evening festival is from 5:00 p.m.- 8 p.m. on the Parkway. The festival is free, attendees can purchase a spoon for $10 and sample recipes from all booths while supplies last. Children ages 7 and under can sample for free.

May 12-14, 2017, Artisphere, Greenville, SC, http://Artisphere.org/
Artisphere’s three-day spring event includes indoor and outdoor performances and visual arts exhibitions throughout downtown Greenville. Artisphere makes the arts accessible to all Greenville residents and visitors showcase the community’s dynamic and diverse cultural scene. Artisphere consistently receives national accolades: ranking #17 out of the “100 Best Art Shows” in the country by Sunshine Artists Magazine, landing in the Top 10 Fine Arts and Craft festival by the Art Fair Sourcebook and placing #3 out of 20 finalists in USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Art Festival. This year look for Artist Row, which will consists of over 120 artists selling original works. Swing by Culinary Arts Café Stage, featuring local and regional singer/songwriters and jazz musicians. Take a seat at the Artisphere Main Stage, showcasing nationally known performers alongside local performing groups and don’t miss the Art Lab, which will have local artists demonstrating craft activities such as bookmaking, pottery, painting and weaving. Come see why more than 95,000 people attended Artisphere last year.

May 13, 2017, 8th Annual Live Oak Arts Festival, Pascagoula, MS,
https://www.facebook.com/loafpascagoula/
The 2017 Live Oak Arts Festival will be a true homecoming for coastal residents and a grand welcoming to visitors. The one-day festival features live music with a regional headliner. The 2017 festival will return to its roots, literally and artistically, inviting artists to celebrate the historic oaks that adorn Pascagoula. The fest will offer crowd favorites, such as the antique car show and new elements with a historical tour of homes and oaks to be offered throughout the historic district. Expect fun for the whole family and great shopping from local artists and coastal businesses.

May 18-21, 2017, Chesapeake Jubilee, Chesapeake, VA, https://ChesapeakeJubilee.org/
The Chesapeake Jubilee is a four-day event featuring local bands and national artists on two stages, an exquisite variety of foods to satisfy everyone’s tastes and lots of quality affordable family fun. World-class entertainment, carnival rides and amazing fireworks abound at this springtime celebration. Enjoy a diverse arts and crafts show, jugglers, mimes, cloggers, a Kid’s Korner and the world famous Chesapeake Jubilee-Kansas City Barbeque Society’s BBQ Cook-Off. Top entertainers have included Willie Nelson, Trace Adkins, Chuck Berry, The Commodores, Conway Twitty, Travis Tritt among many others.

May 18, 26, June 2, 9, 2017, Downtown At Sundown—Outdoor Concert Series, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Downtown at Sundown is an annual outdoor music and art event occurring mid May to early June over the course of four consecutive Friday evenings. Each concert features different local or regional artists performing favorite music genres of the region such as Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp-Pop and Classic Rock. The event also offers food and beverage booths, tabletop galleries, art sales and activities for the kids. The event was designed to attract business people and tourists downtown for entertainment in the ongoing revitalization of the area. The estimated number of attendees is more than 2,000 each week. In addition to the heightening awareness and appreciation of the artistic and musical talent in Southwest Louisiana, the event has also contributed greatly to attracting residents, businesses and tourists to an area undergoing revitalization.

May 18-20, 2017, Starks Mayhaw Festival, Starks, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.com
Like Peanut butter and Jelly, the Starks Mayhaw Festival and spring go hand in hand. And speaking of jelly, this is the place for it! Mayhaw jelly, Mayhaw butter, Mayjaw berries and more—the Starks Mayhaw Festival has it all. Festivalgoers can try their hand at jelly-making or try to catch a glimpse of the Mayhaw Queen and her court. With carnival rides, live music, delicious Southern food and enough berries and jelly to go around, the whole family will have something to celebrate. The festival kicks off Thursday afternoon at the corners of Highways 109 and 12. On Saturday morning, early birds will be able to start their morning off right with hot biscuits, homemade Mayhaw jelly and freshly churned butter. Making the festival even sweeter—free admission!

May 20-21, 2017, Trail of Honor, Jackson, MS, www.TrailOfHonor.org
The Trail of Honor is a living history tribute to America’s Veterans, past and present. This Mississippi-based event began in 2003 and has grown into a nationally recognized event staffed by almost 400 living historians and volunteers. Over 35,000 visitors were in attendance in 2016, which was the fourteenth anniversary of the Trail of Honor event. Visitors to this Military/Veteran’s celebration enjoy historically accurate demonstrations of military life from America’s storied past. Re-enactments span a vast period of time from the French and Indian War in the mid-1700’s to the recent and ongoing War on Terrorism. Living historians display the uniforms, weapons, ammunition, rations and equipment of the era they represent. Army Aviation Heritage Foundation has again committed their entire fleet of air power to the event inventory for 2017, which includes: 5 Cobra Gunships, 4 Huey’s and the “Birdog” which is a fixed-wing aircraft.

May 21-June 3, 2017, Fiesta Days Celebration and Boat Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.FiestaOfFiveFlags.org
The Fiesta of Five Flags organization was formed to celebrate the founding of Pensacola. In 1559, Spanish Conquistador, Don Tristan de Luna, established Pensacola as the first European settlement in the United States. Since that time five different flags have flown over the City: Spanish, French, British, Confederate, and American. The Fiesta celebration begins with a light-hearted re-enactment of the surrender of the city to Spanish explore Don Tristan Deluna and is immediately followed by an evening of outdoor musical entertainment.

May 26, September 4, 2017, Rock City’s Summer Music Weekends, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/summermusic
Enjoy some of the best toe-tapping old time, blue grass and country music all summer long at Rock City’s Summer Music Weekends. Also try some delicious southern cuisine at Café 7 during Summer Music Weekends. Activities include Walk in Frieda’s Footsteps Tour, making Aunt Frieda’s fire fly jars and some 1930’s Americana all around. Returning this year are the amazing Birds of Prey Shows. Experience these powerful and majestic birds up close. New in 2017, expect new live performers to entertain the crowds.

May 27-29, 2017, Alpharetta Arts Streetfest, Alpharetta, GA, www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com
Each year downtown Alpharetta turns into an art exhibit featuring almost 100 artists from across the U.S. Festival goers can stroll through the outdoor gallery, meet the artists and acquire an original piece of artwork. Artists featured represent a wide variety of mediums including mixed media, photography, pottery, jewelry, textiles, glass, wood, metal and paper art. This much anticipated festival will also feature live music, cultural arts performances, entertaining children’s activities, and a variety festival cuisine.

May 27-28, 2017, Garden Jubilee, Hendersonville, NC, http://www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.com/?s=garden+jubilee
The Annual Garden Jubilee Festival has been the place for one-stop shopping for garden lovers for over 20 years in Downtown Hendersonville. Garden Jubilee is Hendersonville’s premier lawn & garden show, and one of the largest gardening shows in the Western North Carolina. The two-day Festival is held on Saturday, May 27 & Sunday, May 28 of Memorial Day weekend. Garden Jubilee highlights more than 260 vendors’ spaces lining Main Street. Local and regional nurseries will be selling 1000’s of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and hard to find plants on every block of the festival. Crafters create distinctive garden art to enhance the beauty of your yard. There will be handmade lawn furniture, jewelry, garden tools, yard art, planters, wind chimes, birdhouses, as well as soaps and pottery. If you have a question or need advice about your garden or lawn, you’ve come to the right place. National product representatives from Oldcastle, Stay Green, Scotts, Miracle-Gro, Ortho, Roundup, Cutter, Pennington Lawn & Garden Products, and Hot Shot will be available in their tents giving out free samples and helpful tips. The Lowe’s Kids Clinic located at the Visitors Center will offer fun, free hands-on projects for children ages 4-12, from 10am-4pm both days.

June 1-4, 2017, The Great American Brass Band Festival, Danville, KY, www.GABBF.org
The Brass Band Festival is a free four-day event featuring live world renowned brass music, an Americana style parade, a Saturday night picnic, free children’s activities, a swing dance, quilt show, yoga in the park, a 5K run and New Orleans’ style street party. 2016 was the debut year of the Great American Art Festival featuring local and national artists and a Kids Art Fest. The success in 2016 of the Art Festival ensures it will be returning for 2017. Attendees of the Festival enjoy the small town atmosphere of Danville, Kentucky while listening to live brass music and enjoying a variety of eats and treats from the Food Village. This Brass Band Festival is the only one of its kind in the country and twenty-eight years in, it feels like the feels like the festival is just beginning to hit its brass stride.

June 1-4, 2017, Herndon Festival, Herndon, VA, www.HerndonFestival.net
The 37th annual Herndon Festival, scheduled for June 1-4, 2017 will be held in historic downtown Herndon, Virginia. This time-honored event is a four-day outdoor festival featuring national and regional entertainment on three stages, a carnival, two fireworks displays, Kids Alley with a children’s hands-on art area, arts & crafts show, business expo, 10K/5K races and fitness expo, complimentary shuttle bus service and a wide variety of high quality food vendors. With the volunteer support of 24 organizations and a contribution of more than 1,100 volunteer hours each year, an estimated 80,000 people come to the Town of Herndon to be part of Northern Virginia’s biggest and best free event. The Herndon Festival draws form throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and provides exposure not only for Herndon’s core downtown businesses, but the hotels and restaurants throughout the area.

June 1-30, 2017, SC Festival of Flowers, Greenwood, SC, SCFestivalOfFlowers.org
The award winning South Carolina Festival of Flowers features a blooming good time saluting flowers, families and fun. The Festival was recognized by the America in Bloom organization with an achievement award in floral display last year. The Festival attracted an estimated 85,000 visitors to Greenwood during the month of June and generated an economic impact of $3,355,322. Partnering with local civic and cultural organizations, the festival provides quality family entertainment to the community. More than 20 events take place during the South Carolina Festival of Flowers, creating a month long list of entertainment and activities for families and visitors. Enjoy the main weekend June 2-4, which includes home garden tours, an arts and crafts show and cultural events. The festival celebrates 50 years in 2017. To celebrate, expect anew historical exhibit, “50 Blooming Years” and the Beach Dance featuring Greenwood’s favorite band, The Swingin’ Medallions.

June 1-July 13, 2017, Sounds of Summer, Columbus, MS, www.ColumbusMainStreet.com
Main Street Columbus and the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce will again partner in 2017 to provide the Sounds of Summer Concert Series, a free concert series in beautiful downtown Columbus on Thursdays in June and July. Sounds of Summer began in 2008 and is held on the banks of the Tennessee Tombigbee River at the Columbus Riverwalk Park. The picturesque park is a perfect venue for this popular event, with the background of the newly renovated Old Highway 82 Bridge. Every other Thursday evening from 7 to 9 p.m., thousands gather at the popular outdoor concert series to enjoy local musicians, cold beverages, great food, kid’s activities and the company of friends and neighbors. The diverse, quality event continues to grow in popularity each year and has become a vital element of community life for families. This event strives to provide a variety of musical genres to interest all parts of the community. Attendees bring lawn chairs and blankets, in addition to friends and family, to enjoy this free, family-friendly community event.


June 1-4, 2017, Tupelo Elvis Festival, Tupelo, MS, www.TupeloElvisFestival.com
The Tupelo Festival is a four-day festival that celebrates the life, legacy and music of Elvis Presley—Tupelo’s native son. The Tupelo Elvis Festival is the only international festival honoring Elvis Presley in the Southeast, next to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. This internationally attended festival began in 1999 and is one of only 24 festivals within the United States and abroad that is officially licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprise and includes an ultimate Elvis tribute artists contest preliminary competition. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing.

June 2, 3, 9, 20, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and July 2, 3, 9, 10, 2017, The Miracle Worker Play, Tuscumbia, AL, www.HelenKellerBirthPlace.org/miracleworker/helenkellermiracleworker.htm
“The Miracle Worker” play, Alabama’s official outdoor drama continues to inspire and captivate audiences from around the world every June through mid-July since 1961. Williams Gibson’s play dramatizes the efforts of teacher Anne Sullivan to open the world of communication to 7-year-old blind and deaf Helen Keller. The production takes place at the outdoor amphitheater on the grounds of Helen Keller’s birthplace. A self-guided tour of the home is included in play admission, with original furnishings of the Keller family home are intact. Highlights of this home-museum are Miss Keller’s personal mementos, books and gifts from her lifetime of travel and lectures for the betterment of the worlds blind and deaf-blind.

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The highly anticipated Sweetgrass festival celebrates the rich Gullah Geechee cultural heritage and provides the most extensive showcase of sweetgrass baskets in the area. This festival will include an assortment of Gullah Geechee skits, storytelling, folklore music, dance, children performers along with demonstrations and lecture on the history of sweetgrass basket making in the Lowcountry. Enjoy a variety of children and family activities as well as delicious Lowcountry Gulla Geechee foods. (*This event was initially posted for March)

June 4, 11, 18 & 25, July 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30, 2017, Ida Cox Music Series, Toccoa, GA, www.IdaCoxMusicSeries.com
The Ida Cox Music Series honors the legacy of famous Taccoan Blues singer, Ida Cox, by bringing quality live entertainment to Historic Downtown Toccoa in June and July. Featuring street music, delicious local food, beverages and a diverse population, the Ida Cox Music Series is a fun and free event. The Ida Cox Music Series spotlights talented local and regional artists and musicians and features a diverse selection of music genres from bluegrass and country, to rock-and-roll, to its namesakes staple of funk and soul. The Ida Cox Music Series is a free celebration of the talent and dedication the residents of Toccoa have toward furthering entertainment and tourism in Northeast Georgia.

June 5-11, 2017, 21st Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, Biloxi, MS, http://mgcbc.com/
Hundreds of anglers converge on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for this premier sport fishing event. Vessels ply the billfish-rich waters off the coast to compete for more than $1,000,000 in cash and prizes. The weeklong event features nightly dock parties, captains banquet, a golf outing and live entertainment for spectators at the weigh scales Friday and Saturday evenings. 2017 will include an award that the MGCBC participants have never seen before: a $100,000 cash award for the heaviest swordfish to break the Mississippi State record!

June 8-10, 2017, Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day, Cumberland Gap, TN, www.GenealogyJamboree.us/
In June, history will come alive in the streets of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The Cumberland Gap Tennessee Genealogy and History group hosts the 7th annual Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day. This free, one-of-a-kind event combines genealogy with period re-enactors dressed in costumes. Craftsmen and women demonstrate their pioneer crafts an in historic setting. All these folks will be giving demonstrations and will be available for questions. There will be lectures at the Cumberland Gap Convention Center and in the streets of Cumberland Gap from nationally known speakers such as J. Mark Lowe. Many authors, genealogical and historical societies will have books and genealogy research materials for sale. Come celebrate the mountain heritage and learn about your ancestors and how they would have lived.

June 9-11, 2017, Blairsville-Scottish Festival and Highland Games, Blairsville, GA, www.BlairsvilleScottishFestival.com
The Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games will rock the town for the 14th year with everything Scottish, down by the river in the beautiful Meeks Nature Park. With Scottish blood running deep in the mountains of Appalachia, the Blairsville Scottish Festival will continue to attract revelers from June 9-11. Each year the festival tees off with a Kilted Golf Classic, a Kilted 5k Run and a Ceilidh Concert On The Square that is fun for the whole family. All weekend long you can enjoy visiting Scottish Clans, Societies, hear Pope & Drum Bands, see the Parade of Tartans, a Mini Cooper car parade, dancers, musicians, Highland animals, vendors, Scottish food, kids games and heritage searches. The Kirkin’ of the Tartans highlights Sunday’s entertainment along with the competitions, clan contests and so much more. The Blairsville Scottish Festival, the premier festival in the North Georgia area, places an emphasis on family entertainment all weekend long.

June 9-11, 2017, North American Sand Soccer Championships, Virginia Beach, VA, www.SandSoccer.com
The North American Sand Soccer Championships is a premier sand soccer event that is in its 24th year of competition. This is a charity event hosted by the Roads Soccer Council to generate funds for the continued development of a private, 75-acre soccer complex serving athletes of all ages and skill level in Virginia Beach. The event draws in 10,000 players from recreational to professionals and thousands more fans, spectators, vendors, media and sponsors. Participants plan and are eager to return year-to-year while spectators find the festival to be an awesome kick-off to summer with its lively atmosphere. Accepted teams arrive and register Friday evening at the Convention Center. Earlier Friday, Pro/Am competition has already begun in the sand stadium nearby. On Saturday and Sunday, across 19 city blocks on the sand, over 62 additional fields are spread north and south where teams of all ages compete. In addition to soccer, participants and spectators will enjoy sidekick sports such as coed flag football, beach lacrosse, Knockerball, Spikeball, All-volley football and wrestling. Stop by the numerous vendors and keep your eyes peeled for beach soccer and celebrity sightings.

Jun 9-July 29, 2017, Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales, Gatlinburg, TN, https://www.Gatlinburg.com/event/smoky-mountain-tunes-tales/
Tunes & Tales is a summer-long street performance event featuring costumed musical performers, storytellers and artisans portraying characters from time periods as far back as 1800. This year, Gatlinburg will present the 12th season of Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales daily in downtown Gatlinburg. This popular seven-week event truly highlights one of Gatlinburg’s greatest assets in the walkability of the city and provides guests with an interactive, educational and entertaining experience the whole family can enjoy. The performers bring to life traditional Smoky Mountain heritage and culture in a fun and interactive way. The collection of personalities and performers arrive nightly at 6 p.m. in the center of town. Visitors witness a magical transformation of sidewalk to stage as the characters disperse along the downtown Parkway for an evening of entertainment and storytelling.

June 15-18, 2017, W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival, Henderson, KY, www.HandyBlues.org
Recognized by the KTIA Top 10 Festivals & Evens, the W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival has grown to be one of the largest and free music festivals in the nation. One can expect to hear a variety of blues styles, including gritty delta blues, smooth soul, big horn bands and Zydeco music. Other festival events include Children’s Art Camp & Umbrella Workshop, Street Strut 5K and live Music Lunch Breaks at local restaurants throughout the week. The event is a celebration of the life and legacy of Henderson resident and “Father of the Blues,” William Christopher Handy. This year cast a vote in the barbecue contest fundraiser where it’s Memphis vs. Kansas style BBQ!

June 16-25, 2017, FestivALL Charleston, Charleston, WV, www.FestivALLCharleston.com
The City of Charleston, West Virginia turns into a work of art during its FestivALL celebration. FestivALL is a multi-venue arts festival, which serves its mission to create and sustain robust arts and entertainment opportunities through year-round programming and events. The main event is the 10-day “FestivALL” celebration in June. Each year, FestivALL includes dozens of events, hundreds of performances and in 2016 collaborated with over 500 artists and arts groups on the local, regional, national and international level. This event includes exhibits from music, theater, dance, visual art, humanities and more. This year enjoy events like “Wine and All that Jazz,” a chance to sip on West Virginia’s finest grapes, dine on fine food and listen to award-winning musicians. Enjoy the “Smoke and Chili Cook-Off” or climb aboard the “River Queen Cruises,” which allows guests to enjoy the sights and sounds of FestivALL from the water.

June 16-17, 2017, The NC Blueberry Festival, Burgaw, NC, www.NCBlueberryFestival.com
The North Carolina Blueberry Festival is filled with a great source of local pride, with the entire community involved in promoting Burgaw to the world in its finest shade of blue. The Blueberry festival provides an opportunity for people to enjoy a full day of family entertainment while experiencing the southern hospitality of a small town. Enjoy over 20 events ranging from entertainment to a car show, a street fair, recipe contest, barbeque cook-off, a 5K run, special exhibits and more.

June 17, 2017, Bell Buckle RC-MoonPie Festival and 10 Mile Run, Bell Buckle, TN, http://BellBuckleChamber.com/bell-buckle-rc-moonpie-festival-general-
This wacky, fun for the whole family event celebrates the South’s original fast food—an ice cold RC Cola and a fresh MoonPie. This year’s festival will go overboard celebrating MoonPie’s 100th birthday. The day starts with the 22nd running of the RC-MoonPie certified 10-mile run. Then visitors will delight in a parade, the crowning of the festival’s new king and Queen, cloggers, music and a stage show extraordinaire. Don’t miss the games—ever hula-hoop while eating a MoonPie and Drinking an RC? Or try to power walk while balancing an RC on your head…AND eating a MoonPie. With over 75 arts and crafts booths, all day stage entertainment and the piece de resistance—serving of the World’s Largest MoonPie birthday pie—no wonder Bell Buckle has had governors, country music stars, authors, dignitaries, world champions and so many others serve as King and Queen to this quirky, fun and free event. It’s easy to see why this perennial favorite has earned multiple nods from Southern Living magazine, Food Network magazine, USA Today and more.


June 23-24, 2017, Louisiana Peach Festival, Ruston, LA, http://LouisianaPeachFestival.org/
The Louisiana Peach Festival is the largest and longest running event held in Ruston, LA. The event takes over Downtown Ruston for a weekend, where attendees can enjoy carnival rides, live music, kids’ activities, peachy goods, parade, shopping and more. Peach Festival offers something for everyone with events catering to all interests. Attendees can shop the Arts & Crafts Show that features more than 100 booths, attend the antique car show, enjoy live music from several artists/bands in Railroad Park, watch the Peach Cobbler Eating Contest, or enjoy any of the other Peach Festival activities, such as the rodeo, 5K, tennis and bass tournaments, kids’ fishing tournament or fabric art show. The Peach Festival is a huge economic driver for Ruston Lincoln Parish, producing an economic impact of $2.37 million to the community and providing the area with thousands of visitors. The community takes great pride in this event with local businesses, schools and organizations participating in the Peach Festival Parade, as Guinness World Record for Largest Peach Cobbler at the 2015 Peach festival and hosting the “Cobbler Gobbler” Peach Cobbler Eating Contest in 2016. The Louisiana Peach Festival is an iconic, beloved event in the area and only continues to grow in size and popularity with each passing year.

June 23-25, 2017, 57th Annual Old Homes Tour and Antiques Show, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortHistoricSite.org
The colonial seaport town of Beaufort, one of North Carolina’s oldest towns, hosts one of the state’s longest running tours of private historic homes, gardens, local churches, inns, art studios and meeting halls. The Old Homes & Gardens Tour is the trademark event for the town. During the tour, private homeowners welcome ticket holders in their homes and gardens. The Beaufort Historic Site features live music, special living history events depicting trades and crafts of the 19th century, as well as tours of the site’s eight historic buildings. Six of those buildings are fully and authentically restored, ranging from a primitive cottage from 1778 to the Apothecary & Doctor’s Office from 1859. Additional events throughout the weekend include concerts, tours of the Old Burying Ground, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features more than 200 graves that pre-date the Civil War tours of Beaufort aboard the BHA’s 1967 English Double-Decker Bus and an antique car show. Held in conjunction with the Beaufort Old Homes Tour, the Annual Antiques Show and Sale is held at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in neighboring Morehead City. Featuring more than 40 dealers offering a wide variety of antiques and collectibles including estate jewelry, furniture, crystal, silver, porcelain, pottery, dolls, linens, fine art as well as with impressive waterfront views, the Antiques Show and Sale is sure to have something for everyone.

June 23-24, 2017, Pirate Day In the Bay, Bay St. Louis, MS, http://mkotsh.com/
Captain Longbeard used Bay St. Louis as his hide-away while he raided British, French and Spanish Merchant ships as a trusted member of Jean Lafitte’s Pirate Navy. Once a year he would bring his men to the city, stash his loot, refurbish his boats, get his needed supplies, recruit new conscripts and have a pub crawl entertaining the young ladies of the city. Join the Krewe of Mystic Seahorse and Captain Longbeard for Pirate Day in The Bay, commemorating the annual celebration started by Captain Longbeard and his pirate crew including the Lafitte Brothers Jean and Pierre. Festivities begin Friday evening lasting through Saturday night and include a Pirate Pub Crawl, scavenger hunt, Captain Longbeard’s Pirate Proclamation, amusement rides, costume contests, pirate cruises, a parade, live entertainment and more.

June 24, 2017, Gulf Coast Shrimp & Jazz Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
This year’s event will showcase new jazz musicians, artists, events and a wide variety of shrimp and other delicious foods. The Shrimp & Jazz Festival is a vision inspired by the desire to see quality cultural change both emerging and professional in Southwest Louisiana. Lake Charles is a city steeped in a rich cultural history, with a thriving local economy that features a unique blend of music, performance and visual arts. Jazz is an important part of that history, yet Lake Charles has no Jazz station on air. Locals can only get access to jazz by satellite radio, digital technology or by visiting one of a few local venues where jazz artists perform. The goal of the festival is to attract and engage a larger jazz audience by using music and great food.

June 30-July 2, 42nd Annual 4th of July Powwow, Cherokee, NC, http://VisitCherokeeNC.com/events/detail/42nd-annual-powwow/
This event features fireworks of another kind, which means a three-day explosion of authentic American Indian music, dancing, food and festivities. Dance competitions kick off the excitement with over $60,0000 in prize money. Spectators travel cross-country to see a powwow as spectacular as this. Come see the ground erupt in a sea of twirling color at the height of tourist season. This action-packed weekend includes colorful regalia, jaw-dropping dances and music made to move you. Experience authentic tribal foods, browse traditional Indian crafts, and get an insider’s look at a rich and ancient culture. Cost is $12 daily (cash only) or just $10 when you bring and donate three cans of food.

July 1-July 5, 2017, 56th Annual Alderson 4th of July Celebration, Alderson, West Virginia, www.Alderson4th.com
The historic town of Alderson, West Virginia hosts a Fourth of July celebration that attracts upwards of 9,000 people each year. The five days are packed with activities for all. For the athlete, a 5K run, canoe races and track and field events. For the kids, an art contest, rides and a fishing derby. Music lovers will enjoy multiple live performances and a square dance. Foodies, make sure to pack an appetite because there is a hot dog eating contest, an ice cream social and a homecoming banquet. Everyone will enjoy the Grand Parade, West Virginia’s best fireworks display and the popular rubber ducky race.

July 1-14, 2017, Fantastic Fourth Celebration, Stone Mountain, GA, www.StoneMountainPark.com/Events/Fantastic-Fourth-Celebration
The Fantastic Fourth Celebration was voted the “Best Place to see Fireworks in Atlanta” by Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers, a “Must-See Fireworks Show” by USA Today and one of Reader’s Digest’s picks for “America’s Most Spectacular Fourth of July Fireworks.” Experience the Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision, a not-to-be-missed Atlanta tradition that promises to wow your family with state-of-the-art digital graphics and awe-inspiring effects. The Lasershow also features a new Drone Wars segment with iconic music, epic fireworks and jaw-dropping fire effects. Three flame cannons add a punch to the show by sending a trio of flames nearly 100 feet into the air. Plus, special fireworks spray multi-colored bursts and dance on the water at the base of the mountain. The special patriotic fireworks finale will immediately follow the Lasershow every night July 1-4!

July 3-4, 2017, July 4th Midnight Parade, Gatlinburg, TN, www.Gatlinburg.com/events
Saluting the valiant men and women of our military services, this 42nd annual showcase is the first 4th of July Parade in the nation, starting at the stroke of midnight. This Gatlinburg celebration has garnered national attention for excellence in entertainment. National Geographic Traveler Magazine named the spectacle a “Top Ten Parade to see in the US” and Livability named the parade as one of the “Five Best Fourth of July Celebrations in Smaller Cities.” The parade attracts upwards of 80,000 people each year.

July 3-9, 2017, The Greenbrier Classic, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, www.GreenbrierClassic.com
With a field of 156 PGA Tour professionals competing for a $7.1 million purse, at one of the nation’s most historic and beautiful resorts and on America’s birthday, the Greenbrier Classic is one spectacular event. Danny Lee, 2015’s young champion, could return to play against tour veterans such as Bubba Watson and Stuart Appleby. Walk around to spot Shaquille O’Neal putting on the greens during the Pro-Am Tournament. Hang out to win $100 when a golfer gets a hole-in-one at the eighteenth green. Finally, indulge in the exquisite cuisine of The Greenbrier or just enjoy the event in the cradle of the beautiful Alleghany Mountains.

July 4, 2017, 4th of July Festival at Creekside Park, Archdale, NC, https://www.Archdale-NC.gov/special-events/
This event started with a few food vendors, a band and a fireworks display. Since its humble beginnings, the 4th of July Festival at Creekside Park has grown to include pony rides, carnival rides, local vendors, educational booths and a large selection of food trucks. Ever year guests rock out with the Part Time Party band and top the night off with the best fireworks display in the area sponsored by Visit the Heart of North Carolina. This year, weather permitting expect tethered balloon rides and an increased music presence with opening band, Karolina Rose.

July 4, 2017, St Marys Independence Day Festival, St. Marys, GA, www.VisitStMarys.com/independence-day-festival.html
This hometown celebration of America’s independence is a fun-filled day offering a 5K run, patriotic parade, vendors and all day entertainment. You can watch the evening fireworks display from the waterfront park or from the river cruise on the St. Marys River. The St. Marys Kiwanis Club runs this annual event as one of many community involvement programs they participate in each year. All funds raised support local kids and senior programs.

July 4, 2017, Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue, Greenville, SC, events.greenvillesc.gov
The annual Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue Festival, which features one of the state’s largest fireworks displays, continues to be the premier July 4th event in the Upstate. This world-class celebration draws more than 50,000 festivalgoers each year. The free event features a full evening of entertainment, including live music performances on two stages, a children’s area and a variety of popular food and beverage vendors.

July 7-8, 2017, 40th Annual Uncle Dave Macon Days Festival, Murfreesboro, TN, www.UncleDaveMaconDays.com
Uncle Dave Macon Days is an award-winning music festival with a 39-year tradition in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The event is both a contest and celebration of old-time music, dance and culture. The family-friendly event is held the second weekend of July on the historic grounds at Cannonsburgh Village, the only surviving part of Tennessee’s Bicentennial project. The festival entertains 25,000 people with on-stage performances, arts and crafts demonstrations and dozens of impromptu “shade-tree pickings,” one of the festival’s most prized attractions. Each year the festival honors a well-known bluegrass and old-time act with the Trailblazer and Heritage Awards. Past winners include names like Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, Bill Monroe, Marty Stuart and Roy Acuff, just to name a few. Fans of the festival know that the recipients of these awards share their honor with the fans, drawing more people each and every year as the genre start to regain its popularity. The festival is consistently ranked as a top music event and top festival in the southeast. People travel from across the country and often times the globe to revel at this unique festival.

July 7-September 16, 2017, Ice Cream and a Moovie at Chaney’s Dairy Barn, www.ChaneysDairyBarn.com
Cool off on a hot summer’s day with fresh homemade ice cream at Chaney’s Dairy Barn—the number one ice cream parlor in the Bluegrass State according to USA Today. Every other weekend from July to September, Chaney’s projects family-friendly movies on the side of the barn for all to enjoy. Settle in with a blanket and lawn chairs at this free event. Attendance grows each year with 18,000 gallons of ice cream produced annually. Watch for a special event in August for the solar eclipse. Chaney’s also offers new self-guided barn tours that are the perfect way to introduce to kids how milk is produced.

July 8, 2017, Pensacola Beach Air Show- featuring the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, Pensacola Beach, FL www.BlueAngels.Navy.Mil
The roar of the engines, the streamers of smoke and every formation in perfect symmetry. With Pensacola as its main base, The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels put on a spectacular air show twice a year that cuts through the beautiful Pensacola skies. Venture down to Pensacola on July 8th for high-flying fun, where the Blue Angels will perform aerial acrobatics over the Gulf of Mexico. The show starts at noon and the Blue Angels fly at 2 p.m.


July 14- July 15, 2017, 38th Annual Natchitoches—NSU Folk Festival, Natchitoches, LA, https://LouisianaFolkLife.nsula.edu/
The 38th Annual Natchitoches/NSU Folk Festival held July 14-July 15 is an indoor multicultural celebration of heritage, folk art and music. Folk cultures are sustained when the torch of tradition is passed from one generation to the next. Communities are strengthened and lives are given greater meaning as masters of traditional arts share their inheritance with new tradition bearers. The 2017 Festival theme is “Keeping Tradition Alive!” celebrates the ways in which so many outstanding artists young and old are tapping into the artistry of the old ways, revitalizing and reimagining tradition, while making it their own. Enjoy regional music genres such as Cajun, French Creole, Zydeco, Blues and more. Browse regional crafts and wares like, wood carving, Czech Pysanky eggs, Spanish moss dolls, pine needle baskets and handmade furniture. Folk foods will include cracklin’, red beans and rice, gumbo, Indian tacos and of course, Natchitoches meat pies. The festival is also home to a kid station, narrative sessions and the Louisiana State Fiddle Championship. Celebrate Louisiana’s heritage, past and present at the 38th Annual Natchitoches Folk Festival.

July 14-15, 2017, Cajun Music and Food Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Can’t get enough gumbo, jambalaya or etouffee`? Head on over the 30th Annual Cajun Music and Food festival to fill up on these favorite Cajun specialties and more. Every year the festival aims to preserve Cajun culture through dancing, music and of course—food! This year, the Cracklin’ Cook-Off will be held on Saturday. Local musicians will fill the summer air with favorite Cajun tunes, while visitors enjoy craft booths, games, silent auction and a live auction. On Sunday, enjoy a Cajun French Catholic Mass, complete with a Cajun choir. The festival is held at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.

July 14-22, 2017, Kingsport Fun Fest, Kingsport, TN, www.FunFest.com
Kingsport, Tennessee is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2017. For 37 of the past 100 years, the city has celebrated each year with nine days of summertime fun. Fun Fest features over 100 different events for all ages. The festival is highly recognizable for its world famous Crazy 8’s road race, hot-air balloons, the Taste (a wide-sampling of local flavor), three nights of nationally acclaimed musicians taking the outdoor main stage and a huge fireworks finale. Each year, 120,000 people attend this highly anticipated festival.

July 14-16, 2017, Saddle Up for St. Jude, Tuscumbia, AL, www.SaddleUp4Kids.org
Since 1996, Gardiner Farms in Tuscumbia, AL has hosted the Saddle Up for St. Jude benefit trail ride, now the largest Saddle Up event in the nation. Coordinate by Circle 5 outfit, this is a fun, family-oriented, fundraising event that is based around horseback riding the third weekend in July. Come out for the day or the weekend and enjoy 3,000 acres of beautiful trails to ride on. Bring your lawn chairs to sit back and enjoy the music. Country music star Clay Walker and local musicians will take the stage Friday and Saturday nights. There will be lots of food and vendors for your pleasure as well as pony and wagon rides for the kids. Last but not least, there will be an auction with a wide variety of items ranging in value and style for your enjoyment. Bring your horse and donate $35 or bring a chair and donate $10. All proceeds benefit Children of St. Jude Research Hospital.

July 14-15, 2017, Space Camp SummerFest, Hunstville, AL, https://www.RocketCenter.com/summerfest
Space Camp SummerFest at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a time for Space Camp alumni and friends to the Center to celebrate their shared connection as space geeks. Are you a Space Camp or Aviation Challenge alumnus looking for a good reason to come back and visit? The weekend features the Space Camp Hall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony, mini Space Camp sessions, an Alumni Town Hall Meeting and a finale concert open to alumni and community members alike. The Space Camp Hall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony will be held July 14, and the concert, “Party of the Year” by the producers of Black Jacket Symphony is scheduled for July 15. This is the ultimate concert experience—guests will be singing and dancing all night long to today’s hits and classics from the last five decades, while enjoying a mesmerizing video and light show. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the perfect location to get your geek on while dancing the night away.

July 15-16, 2017, 19th Annual Butternut Creek Festival, Blairsville, GA, www.ButternutCreekFestival.com
Come enjoy this family event nestled along the shady banks of the Butternut Creek in beautiful Meeks Park. This juried show of more than 70 of the Southeast’s finest craftsmen and artists offer a variety of unique original art and hand-crafted works. Peruse one-of-a-kind household and personal wares while live music and delicious food from vendors delight the senses. The festival offers free admission, free parking and free shuttle service. Festival hours are 10 a.m.-5p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.- 4p.m. on Sunday. Funds raised at this high-quality event are used to support the arts in local schools and other art related programs.

J uly 15, 2017, Lake Charles Symphony Summer Pops, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Celebrate the classic songs of Sinatra, Davis and Martin tunes like, That’s Amore, The Lady is a Tramp, Mr. Bojangles, My Way and of course, New York, New York with brand new orchestrations. Choreographed and scripted with original Rat Pack routines, you’ll think you’re swingin’ at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Summer Pops is a popular annual tradition in the Southwest Louisiana area. Each year brings a fun and exciting introduction to those experiencing orchestral music for the first time and to those who look forward to the Summer Pops year after year. It is the Lake Charles Symphony’s hope that this show will have everyone dancing in the aisles at this family-friendly event.


July 20-22, 2017, Virginia Lake Festival “Lakefest”, Clarksville, VA, www.ClarksvilleVa.com/festivals-celebrations/virginia-lake-festival/
The third full weekend of July brings tourists, an economic boost and highlights the causes of Virginia’s Only Lakeside Town—Clarksville. The Virginia Lake Festival, also known as “Lakefest,” begins with free tethered hot air balloon rides on Thursday evening for children 12 and younger. On Friday morning, the sand sculpture artist begins creating a larger-than-life art sculpture. Around noontime, the main stage and children’s entertainment arrives as well as the crowds. That evening, the sponsors are introduced and saluted at welcoming ceremonies and a live band hits the stage and performs until 10 p.m. Saturday begins at daybreak with 11 hot air balloons flying over the festival and dipping their baskets in the lake. Main Street comes alive with an all-day juried arts & crafts show, featuring 210 venders, children’s games, antique auto show, helicopter rides, blood pressure screenings and more live music. Sunset provides another hot-air balloon display and at 9:30 p.m., boats gather on the lake and more people line the shoreline to view the spectacular fireworks. On Sunday, the hot-air balloons make one final flight over the water at daybreak. This is the event’s 40th year, expect an even grander time at “Lakefest”!

July 28-29, 2017, Marshland Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Every year the small town of Hackberry comes out of the marshes and heads over to the Lake Charles Civic Center to celebrate the landscape that makes Southwest Louisiana unique. The festival helps raise funds for 14 schools and church organizations and features exhibits, games, arts and crafts booths, food, live entertainment and is a tribute to the marshes that are famous in Southwest Louisiana area and along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. The festival offers a great way to experience authentic Louisiana culture, food and music. Bring your dancing shoes because the crowd is always on their feet. With family-friendly activities, great food and even better music, the annual Marshland Festival is a must-do while visiting this beautiful part of Louisiana. Live music begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and ends at midnight. On Saturday, the music begins at noon and goes until midnight.

August -October, 2017, Biergarten at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL, https://www.RocketCenter.com/Biergarten
Join the U.S. Space & Rocket Center for their traditional Biergarten every Thursday night from 4:30-7:30 p.m. through October. This family-friendly atmosphere is complete with music, dancing, beer and brats. More than 16,000 guests gather each season under the spectacular Saturn V rocket, the inviting Apollo Courtyard or the Apollo Terrace, which overlooks Huntsville’s “Spaceline.” This relaxing environment provides specialty craft beers and imported beers and wines from German regions, authentic German cuisine and musicians and dancers in traditional German costumes. Last year, Biergarten raised more than $17,000 for nonprofit organizations.

August 1-5, 2017, Tontitown Grape Festival, Tontitown, AR, http://www.TontitownGrapeFestival.com/
Every August since 1899, the Tontitown Grape Festival has been the scene of fun for folks of all ages. One of the biggest festivals in Northwest Arkansas, the Grape Festival draws people from all over the United States and beyond. The Grape Festival celebrates the town’s Italian heritage with great live music, a carnival, arts & crafts fair, a used book sale, a “Run for the Grapes” and the annual coronation of the Queen of the festival. Perhaps the main attraction to this Italian themed event is the food. After enjoying all of the unique festivities, chow down on an authentic spaghetti dinner. After filling up on delicious Italian comforts, burn it off by participating in a grape stomp.

August 4-5, 2017, 21st Annual Dillard Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival, Dillard, GA, http://www.Dillardbbq.org/
The Dillard Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival started in 1997 and has grown to what it is today through hard work and the efforts of many volunteers and BBQ enthusiasts from around the country. Each year people come from around nation to compete, listen to authentic Bluegrass music and to savor mouthwatering smoking meats of all kinds. The cooking rigs are a sight to behold and the vendors serving the many delicacies are some of the best in the world. This event is a Georgia Barbeque Championship Qualifier and a World Food Championship Qualifier. All proceeds benefit local charities.

August 4-5, 2017, Lewisburg Literary Festival, Lewisburg, WV, www.LewisburgLiteraryFestival.com
The Lewisburg Literary Festival is a vibrant two-day event that features visiting authors, outdoor art and music and performance art, all inspired by literature. Lewisburg is transformed into a scene out of a play with outdoor book themed art installations which attendees enjoy as they stroll through downtown. Writers from as far away as Seattle join local and regional authors for book signings and readings, as well as writing workshops. Even the littlest of readers are included at children’s book breakfast and book readings by favorite children’s characters and authors. Former featured authors have included Kathryn Stockett, who penned “The Help” and Homer Hickam, Jr., who wrote “The Rocket Boys.”

August 4-5, 2017, Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair, Burnsville, NC, www.YanceyChamber.com
The Annual Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair is held in the Town Square in Burnsville, North Carolina on the first Friday and Saturday of August. With approximately 200 juried crafts, this event more than qualifies as a craft shopper’s paradise. Over 20,000 people attend this event each year, searching for those special, one-of-a-kind items created by Blue Ridge area artisans. Shoppers browse a wide selection of treasures, including handmade quilts, jewelry, hand-turned wooden household goods, various types of pottery, art fabrics, rustic furniture, traditional mountain musical instruments, blacksmith creations, candles, soaps and all kinds of artwork. Have a seat and watch as the artisans produce their craft throughout the day. Enjoy a lunch of Southern favorites like barbeque and sweet tea on the square. Watch live performances, as musicians, cloggers and dancers take over the stage. Step back into the past as you enjoy an old-fashioned town square event that exhibits Southern Hospitality at its best.

August 10-12, 2017, 18th Annual Bargains Galore on 64, Arkansas, http://BargainsGaloreOn64.org/
The River Valley of Arkansas is proud to host another Bargains Galore on 64—a true yard sale extravaganza. This unique event includes 160 miles of yard sales. Peruse antiques, collectibles and flea markets from Fort Smith past Conway to Beebe, Arkansas. This annual event is held on Thursday through Saturday, the second weekend in August. Designated as a “Travel Treasure” by Southern Traveler magazine, the event draws family vacationers, dealers, buyers and sellers alike. Enjoy the bargains, friendly atmosphere and the beautiful vistas that prevail. Come and join in the fun of selling, buying, or both, along this antiques and “stuff” along this shop-a-holics highway.

August 10-19, 2017, State Fair of West Virginia, Fairlea, WV, www.StateFairofWV.com
The State Fair of West Virginia is the quintessential summer activity. The offerings run from the agricultural to the acrobatic, in the largest multi-day celebration in West Virginia. The State Fair of West Virginia constantly reinvents its successful formula with a new theme each year and new performances and exhibits. Each year features special ticketed performances by big name musical acts, which in past years have included the iconic country band, Alabama and popular Bluegrass singer, Allison Krauss. The free family entertainment also changes yearly with past popular acts featuring dare-devil motorcyclists, trained wolves, magic acts and wild tigers. Many aspects of the fair are tried and true and are considered tradition by attendees, such as the taste of a Ben Ellen Doughnut, a ride on the Ferris wheel, a walk through the barns and the spectacular fireworks. Everyone is sure to find something to love in the great variety of food, rides, exhibits and family entertainment.

August 10-13, 2017, The Richmond Jazz Festival, Richmond, VA, https://www.facebook.com/richmondjazzfestival/
As one of the largest music festivals on the East Coast, the Richmond Jazz Festival has quickly become one of the city's biggest attractions. Every year, the festival boasts a lineup of top Grammy Award-winning, international and national artists representing a myriad of genres. Past artists have included: David Sanborn, Pat Martino, Kamasi Washington, Jill Scott, Dr. John, Chaka Khan, Lauryn Hill, Natalie Cole, and many more. Along with unforgettable musical performances, weekend activities include wine tastings, chef demonstrations, a cigar lounge, artist meet & greets, exclusive access to the exotic gardens at Maymont and a huge marketplace of food and merchandise vendors.

August 11-13, 2017, The 48 Hour Film Project, Paducah, KY, http://www.48hourfilm.com/paducah-ky
The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie—write, shoot, and edit— in just 48 hours. On Friday night, teams draw a genre from a hat. They are then given a character, prop and line to include in their films. On Sunday night, in a wild dash to the drop off event, the film is turned in - and teams celebrate. The film is then screened at a local theater in front of an audience of filmmakers, friends and families. The festival is part of a larger international competition including more than 120 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas where over 60,000 people will make short films. Filmmakers from all over the Paducah, KY area will compete to see who can make the best short film in only 48 hours. The winning film will go up against films from around the world at Filmapalooza 2018 for a chance at the grand prize and an opportunity to screen at the Cannes Film Festival 2018, Court Métrage.

August 12, 2017, Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights, Jackson, MS, www.GreaterBelhaven.com
Come enjoy this annual street festival promoting the Greater Belhaven historic neighborhood, one of the original and most unique neighborhoods of Jackson, Mississippi. The festival provides venues to showcase art forms including visual arts, live music performed by Belhaven residents and serves to attract people to this historic neighborhood. Activities include, shopping at artisan booths, children’s area, dancers and musical acts. There are three stages of music with a variety of styles including blues, jazz, brass band, acoustic singer-songwriters and indie rock. The children’s area offers various arts-based activities, space jumps, activities from local museums and live animals from the local Natural Science Museum. Food vendors come from the delicious neighborhood restaurants. Through community effort, the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood transforms Carlisle Street into New Stage Theatre and Kenwood Street into the twinkling and exciting street festival that is, Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights.


August 12-13, 2017, Bluegrass in the Park & Folklife Festival, Henderson, KY, www.BlueGrassInThePark.com
One of the oldest on-going free Bluegrass festivals in the United States, Bluegrass in the Park hosts two days of family fun activities. Enjoy bluegrass music, historic folk activities, pole vaulting and great food, all with a beautiful riverfront view. Last year’s new Thursday night kickoff featuring Hispanic Bluegrass and culture experience was a hit! Live mariachi music and authentic food from a local Mexican restaurant provided a diverse atmosphere. This year, expect a wide mix of Americana, Folk and Bluegrass to fill the summer air.

August 16-20, 2017, Smoky Mountain Songwriter’s Festival, Gatlinburg, TN, www.SMSWF.com
Join in “Celebrating Our Appalachian Musical Roots” at the 6th annual Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – The Gateway to The Great Smoky Mountains where bluegrass, country and ole time music originated! The mission of The Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival is to bring songwriters, music professionals and music lovers together for the enjoyment of learning, sharing, and preserving the craft of the song. Expect original performances from the songwriters themselves to fill venues for four days throughout Gatlinburg. You will recognize many of these songs from the “Hit” lists on the radio. The songwriter not only performs, but also tells you the story behind the song. The SMSWF proudly promotes songwriters—helping their songs to be discovered by publishers and producers. Bring your instruments and your songs or just yourself as one who appreciates good music. There will be open jam spots available for all musicians.

August 19, 2017, Girls Night Out, Charleston, WV, www.GNOWV.com
Girls Night Out is the season’s biggest party with a purpose: women helping women through power, passion and raising funds and awareness to eliminate domestic violence. Now attracting more than 1,000 women from the tri-state area, GNO is a party women don’t want to miss. Local restaurants prepare their tastiest bites and male volunteers wait on guests with signature cocktails, beer or wine from the open bar. Photo opportunities abound, as GNO is widely known for its stunning décor. This year’s theme: Be Boho Chic, Live Violence Free. Inside the event, guests can shop a beautifully staged silent auction of over 100 items and dance the night away to live DJ entertainment.

August 19, 2017, Arts & Crabs Fest, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Each August, Arts & Crabs Fest features an extensive crab and beer tasting, an art walk and live music, which offer an interactive and educational experience of Southwest Louisiana’s seafood and culture. This popular event sells out every year. As one of Louisiana’s three crab festivals, the event aims to celebrate the ties between Louisiana seafood and culture. That’s why the festival offers a comprehensive experience of Southwest Louisiana’s best food, music and art. Tickets range from $30-$36 and festivalgoers can access an extensive crab and beer tasting which will feature ten restaurants each. Every restaurant offers a crab dish that is representative of their cuisine’s styles and personalities. Typical dishes will include crab cakes, crab au gratin, crab ceviche and crab gazpacho. Each crab dish is paired with a complementary beer sample. Similar to a wine pairing, each Louisiana beer will enhance each dish’s unique flavors and textures.

August 19, 2017, 30th Annual Dancin’ in the Streets, Stuart, FL, www.StuartDancinInTheStreets.com
Located in the “Happiest Seaside Town in America,” the 30th Annual Dancin’ in the Streets festival is the longest running and most popular music event in the Treasure Coast region. This street party and music festival will take place on five stages with over twenty bands and three national headliners (to be announced) from 3 p.m.- midnight. Every year, the streets of Downtown Stuart shut down and the community comes out for a day of live musical performances, food, drinks, vendors, kid activities and of course—dancin’ in the streets. This year expect a silent disco, upgraded seating along the RiverWalk and a d Kid’s festival.

August 25-26, 2017, FunkFest Beach Party- featuring Africana Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, VA, http://www.BeachStreetUSA.com/festivals/funkfest-beach-party-featuring-africana-virginia-beach
The FunkFest Beach Party features music by influential legends such as James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton and The Ohio Players. Funk is an American musical style that originated in the mid-to-late 1960’s when African-American musicians blended soul music, soulful jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground. This free event will take place on a beach stage at 24th Street. Food, merchandise and dance contests all contribute to a festive, funky vibe.

August 25-September 13, 2017, Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational, Watkinsville, GA, www.OCAF.com
The Oconee Cultural Arts foundations’ Annual Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational is one of the largest pottery events in the southeast region. Showcasing works of 50 invited Georgia potters, the twenty-day event begins with an evening gala and opening reception on Friday, August 25. Gala attendees will enjoy delicious food, live jazz and have the opportunity to preview and purchase from the many fine works available. Three exhibitions will be featured, as well as a sales venue offering over 7,000 pieces of original, hand-made pottery. Other facets of this annual event include a pottery workshop instructed by an internationally known Japanese artist Izumi Naoki, free pottery demonstrations, gallery talks and an entrepreneurial workshop on the business of being an artist.

August 26-28, 2017, Alabama Veterans Reunion, Tuscaloosa, AL, www.AlabamaVeteransReunion.com
The Alabama Veterans Reunion is the only statewide veterans and family reunion for the men and women who have proudly defended our nation. It is a weekend that showcases appreciation and gratitude for the many heroes in Alabama with dinners and festivities. Because of this event, leaders created a statewide initiative, My VA Alabama. Expect a mixer with great music and food, explore the grounds of one of the state’s finest VA facilities while munching on lunch provided by Chick-Fil-A, a ticketed dinner at NorthRiver Yacht Club and a self-guided tour of Tuscaloosa’s Civil War History and Veteran’s Memorial Park. Enjoy these unique events while connecting with other veterans and service members.

August 26, 2017, Summerfest, York, SC, https://www.YorkSummerfest.com/
Celebrating over 30 years, Summerfest is a one-day festival held on the fourth Saturday of August in York, South Carolina. Summerfest provides entertainment for the whole family and admission is free. Shop the craft fair, eat in the food court and enjoy the classic car shows. Athletes will love competing in the 10K, 5K, fun runs, and golf, softball and tennis tournaments. Enjoy children’s activities, train rides, waterball, zip lines, robotics demonstrations and a health fair. Take part in all of the fun while listening to live music from several stages, including a country music contest.

August 31-September 4, 2017, Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, Morgan City, LA, www.ShrimpAndPetroleum.org
Louisiana’s oldest chartered harvest festival is scheduled to celebrate 82 years of tradition and family fun this Labor Day Weekend. The Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival will be held in Morgan City, only 90 miles from New Orleans, Baton Rouge and LaFayette. Most festivities are held within the beautiful Downtown Historic District and are free to the general public. Great food, continuous live music, traditional events and children’s activities will highlight this five-day extravaganza. With more than 100,000 people in attendance, the festival continually wins regional awards.

September 1-October 31, 2017, Huntsville Botanical Garden Scarecrow Trail, Huntsville, AL, www.HSVBG.org
Every September through October, the Huntsville Botanical Garden becomes an autumn wonderland. The Huntsville community builds wonderful interpretations of scarecrows that are displayed throughout the botanical garden grounds. Every year, local businesses, groups, clubs and non-profits provide more and more creativity and entries exceed expectations. Children and families look forward to this garden festival all year long. Visitors stroll through the garden for the natural beauty and get the bonus of exploring the scarecrows as well. This year, expect a new pumpkin patch display along with some amazingly guiled gourds.

September 2-4, 2017, Marietta Art in the Park, Marietta, GA, www.ArtParkMarietta.com
The 31st Annual Art in the Park Festival is the largest and only fine art festival in Cobb County, Georgia. The festival features an Artist Market of 175 nationally ranked artists from around the country with fine arts and crafts available for purchase. Art in the Park offers visitors a unique opportunity to meet and talk with the artists and even see some of the work-in-progress. The family-friendly event also includes the Chalk Spot street art display, the Children’s Art Alley with plenty of free make-and-take art stations, the Monster Mural, Music Café and Food Truck Row. Located in historic downtown Marietta, Georgia, the area is rich with museums, theatres, art galleries, unique shops, boutiques and plenty of outdoor dining, all within walking distance of the festival.

September 7-10, 2017, Yellow Daisy Festival, Stone Mountain, GA, www.StoneMountainPark.com/events/yellow-daisy-festival
The Yellow Daisy Festival in Stone Mountain started out as a small arts and crafts show and has grown into a four-day extravaganza. Expect a big show with a small-town feel. The mission of re-connecting families and friends with fun, shopping, live entertainment and good food has remained a constant over the past 49 years. Multi-generations of mothers, daughters and grandmothers meander the wooded trails together in search of the perfect item. Peruse more than 400 artists and crafters booths from 33 states and two countries. Enjoy daily live entertainment, a children’s corner, fabulous festival foods and crafter demonstrations throughout the event. The event is free, parking is $15.

September 8-17, 2017, Tennessee Valley Fair, Knoxville, TN, www.TNValleyFair.org
The Tennessee Valley Fair is one of the state’s largest multi-day events attracting approximately 150,000 guests each year. Known for its innovative exhibits, livestock shows, concert series, action sports, exciting midway and a variety of unique fun foods, the Tennessee Valley Fair has offered tremendous family entertainment for 98 years. This year the fair will celebrate everything that makes the Tennessee Valley—“Ag-Mazing”. From livestock shows, educational activities for children, interactive petting zoo and barnyard animal exhibit, organizers will highlight East Tennessee’s unique agricultural history throughout the 10-day event.

September 9, 2017, 25th Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues & Heritage Festival, Pascagoula, MS, http://MSGulfCoastBluesFest.com/index.html
Strap on your dancing shoes and enjoy one of the top music festivals on the Gulf Coast—the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues & Heritage Festival. Top named blues entertainers include Nikki DeMarks, Simone De, Kent Burnside band, Yazoo Bayou Band, Mark Muleman Massey Band, Eddie Cotton Jr. and Lil Jimmie. Visitors will have an excellent opportunity to hear their favorite songs, eat delicious food and refreshments, see culture exhibits and share in this fun outing with the entire family.

September 9-10, 2017, 36th Annual Biloxi Seafood Festival, Biloxi, MS, https://www.GulfCoast.org/event/36th-annual-biloxi-seafood-festival/4483/
The Biloxi Seafood Festival is a celebration of the seafood heritage of the City of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This two-day celebration features live entertainment, activities for kids, arts and craft vendors and plenty of fresh seafood. A Gumbo Cook-Off will take place Sunday, where attendees can sample and vote for the best bowl.

September 13-17, 2017, Clayton Harvest & Music Festival, Clayton, NC, www.ClaytonChamber.com/pages/Harvest-festival
The 27th Clayton Harvest & Music Festival of 2017 promises 5 days of fun. Nearly 25,000 people will fill Downtown Clayton for this annual event. Don’t miss the great tastes of the Squealin’ on the Square BBQ Cook Off, a North Carolina Pork Council sanctioned event. Stroll through over 200 local and regional craft vendor booths with live art demonstrations. The festival will also include carnival rides, concerts from local artists, karaoke, a dance party, food trucks and a classic car show. It’s fun for the entire family. New this year is the Clayton’s Next Big Thing contest. Locals with a variety of talents will compete in front of an audience and a panel of judges.

September 15-17, 2017, Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival, Augusta, GA, www.ArtsInTheHeart.com
Arts in the Heart of Augusta is two-and-a-half-day celebration in beautiful downtown Augusta, Georgia. The festival, now in its 37th year, honors arts and community and draws over 8,000 visitors each year. The festival spans three city blocks and includes the Downtown Augusta Common. In addition to a Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Market with over 130 booths filled with mesmerizing works, the festival boasts five stages stacked with live entertainment, a Global Village filled with authentic international food from 25 countries, an outstanding Family Area and a Young Artist Market. Patrons can buy tickets in advance, online for $5 or $10 at the gate. Children under ten are free. This year, expect the children’s area to come alive with performances by professional fire dancers and musicians.

September 15, 2017, Taste of Autumn, Gatlinburg, TN, www.Gatlinburg.com/events
Gatlinburg kicks off the fall season with a celebrity filled night packed with delicious food from area restaurants and hilarious comedy at the 20th Annual Taste of Autumn. The entertainment this year is Jimmy Travis. Travis is a multitalented performer who constantly proves that you can be funny, informative and entertaining without being offensive. Tickets are $25 and children 5 and under are free. Proceeds benefit the United Way of Sevier County.

September 18-20, 2017, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Bristol, VA/TN, www.BristolRhythm.com
Nashville may be country music’s capitol, but Bristol—a city split in half by the state line of Virginia and Tennessee—is its birthplace. Bristol is home to the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings. Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is a celebration of those historic recordings. Featuring more than 100 of the finest roots music performances on 20 stages on and around State Street in Historic Downtown Bristol, more than 40,000 people gather to honor the region’s authentic music history. The three-day music festival is amped to the beat of Appalachia’s past, present, and future. In 2016 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion achieved the Bronze Grand Pinnacle from the International Festivals & Events Association. The festival was also listed among Rolling Stone Magazine’s “2016’s 31 Hottest Country Tours & Festivals.”

September 21-October 22, 2017, Bridging The Blues, Memphis & towns throughout the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta, www.BridgingTheBlues.com
The purpose of Bridging The Blues is to give travelers, especially international visitors, an avenue for hearing live music at a wide variety of venues, from large festivals to intimate club settings. The signature bookend events are the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival and King Biscuit Blues Festival. In addition to connecting areas that have the Mississippi River in common, BTB also refers to different types of music that have their origins in the blues and these include almost every genre of popular music. The variety of artists playing at both the festivals and smaller venues is a testament to how far the roots of the blues have spread.

September 21-24, 2017, Mayberry Days, Mount Airy, NC, www.MayberryDays.org
Mayberry Days is a family-friendly festival that celebrates the anniversary date of the Andy Griffith Show. Fans enjoy concerts, games, movies, a parade and opportunities to meet actors from The Andy Griffith Show. Fun contests range from a Barbeque Cook-Off to checkers, an apple peel-off, trivia competitions for all ages, Mayberry Days Corn Hole competitions and a “Goober Says Hay” Bale Toss. During this festival, the streets are not blocked off and guests are welcomed all over town. The festival is centered at the Andy Griffith Playhouse and the Andy Griffith Museum. This year the concerts will have nationally known groups including The Malpass Brothers, James Gregory and Balsam Range. This year will also include first time guests from The Andy Griffith Show. There will also be a comedian and thee outdoor concerts preceding the official kick-off.

September 22-October 1, 2017, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, Captiva, Downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach, FL, www.IslandHopperFest.com
The fourth annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest returns with dozens of chart-topping songwriters set to play against the backdrop of this tropical island destination. The Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau collaborates with Broadcast Music Inc., IHeart Media and local station Cat Country 107.1 to bring approximately 60 accomplished songwriters and several hall of fame musicians to give guests an immersive experience and businesses a boost during a slow time of year. Attendees will have the unique opportunity to listen to their favorite songs and hear the back-stories behind the lyrics in intimate settings such as beach bars, restaurants and resort homes. Past performers have written for George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Celine Dion, Rascal Flatts, Aerosmith and Tim McGraw. Performances take place just steps from the Gulf of Mexico or the beautiful back bay estuaries. This year, look out for some exclusive experiences with songwriters, including sunset cruises, wine parings, house parties and fishing excursions.

September 23-30, 2017, EVA Frontier Days, Eva, AL, http://evafrontierdays.weebly.com/
Eva Frontier Days offers old-fashioned fun for the entire family. Kicking off its 28th year, enjoy the Hayride that attracted 1,400 people in 2016. On September 28th, warm up the pipes for community singing at one of the local churches. September 29th brings Singing on the Square and Talent Contest. The Big finale is September 30th which includes an antique tractor show, car show, parade, craft show, music under the big tent, frog jumping contest, greased pig chase, food vendors and games for all ages.

September 28, 2017, Art Walk Downtown, Columbus, MS
For the past four years, Art Walk Downtown, has been held annually on the last Thursday of September in Columbus, Mississippi. The public is invited for a festive evening where the work of area artists is showcased throughout historic Downtown Columbus, including inside of businesses, in the downtown plaza and on the sidewalks. Visitors can purchase fine art, meet the artists, take advantage of in-store discounts and promotions and enjoy music in the streets. There is a kid’s booth where children can create sand art bottle creations to take home. This year expect even more activities for the kids.


11 Inspiring Tourism Professionals - Innovative Approaches to Challenging Times

Mossel Bay South Africa ©Flyga Twiga™ LLC

Michael English
Cape Town, South Africa

The worldwide shutdown of travel due to the global pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on tourism and hospitality businesses. Travel restrictions, quarantines, and ever-changing rules laid down by governments around the world has led to the greatest collapse of the global economy since the Great Depression. According to the World Tourism Council, prior to the Pandemic, tourism employed 1 in 10 jobs (over 330 million people globally) and generated 10% of the global GDP. This all came to a sudden halt with devastating impacts on the jobs, colleagues, friends, and families that make a living from tourism.

Flyga Twiga partners with many people to bring clients the perfect trip to Africa, relying on their experience on the ground to add value to the trip. These partners are on the frontline of this situation. One trait tourism professionals, particularly those operating in Africa, have in common is adaptability, resourcefulness, and resilience. Strategies to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on individuals have been creative and awe-inspiring.

Here are some of their stories…

Ypie Kingma from Destination Garden Route, South Africa

Ypie Kingma hails originally from the Netherlands but has lived in the Garden Route of South Africa for over 20 years in the beautiful town of Knysna. The Garden Route is a scenic region on the southern coast of South Africa known for its coasts, mountains, ancient forests, estuaries, semi-deserts and a myriad of adventure activities.

Ypie's company is Destination Garden Route represents multiple small entities such as guesthouses and travel businesses from the region to international partners and agents. They cannot afford to market themselves individually and make an impact on the global stage. She considers her role as that of connecting the right people, so that smaller businesses can access clients internationally. Ypie also works as a ground handler, running the logistics of trips in the region. This is where her extensive knowledge and personal relationships with accommodation and activity providers in the area plays a vital role.

Ypie says "creating individually tailor-made tours with the preferences and budget of the client in mind is what I enjoy, with a personal preference for unique, owner-run and managed properties, and small scale experiences where visitors get to see 'real-life' so to speak. For example, visiting a local artist in his home, meeting the wine-, beer- or olive oil maker, or having a meal with locals."

As a qualified tour guide, Ypie also takes clients out on customised tours. "I thoroughly enjoy meeting people from all over the world and 'comparing notes' on life here in South Africa as compared to our guests' respective countries. It is always interesting to learn about different cultures and customs, yet at the same time to realize how similar we all are. In that respect, I can't wait to get together with future guests and learn how we all went through this current crisis."

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

"I was about to launch the Garden Route Collection, doing exactly that - travel trade representation - when Covid-19 hit us all. And although that was initially put on the back burner, it is coming back slowly now that visitors worldwide are thinking about travelling to South Africa again.''

As lockdown started there was a demand for fabric face masks, so Ypie teamed up with one of the local seamstresses who has previously made quite a few of her 'African inspired' jackets and dresses to make masks to sell. She had to move her business so she could work from home and started making face masks which were then sold through Destination Garden Route's network. "Amy and other operators supported the initiative, and we even sent some to Europe! Part of proceeds went to our local Rotary, who supported our municipality in distributing food parcels to those in need. Win-win for everybody!"

Since then Ypie has opened GROwn Online, or 'Garden Route's Own online' shop, selling locally made home & kitchen, luxury gifts, arts, fashion & jewellery, health & beauty and kids' collections. The idea is to be the connection between local artisans and artists and invite visitors to meet them in their workplace or workshop once travel resumes. Of course, in the meantime selling their products as well, so we can all 'survive' until then. The 'shop' is being stocked as we speak, with new products being added weekly! Once the shop starts making money, Ypie wants to support one or two charity organizations or ideally set up her foundation, supporting budding artists or entrepreneurs in setting up their business.

Ypie has also been honoured by our local tourism marketing office Visit Knysna to conduct a virtual tour of the Greater Knysna area. It is part of a bigger campaign showcasing the diversity of the region, and she 'virtually' took one of our celebrity radio hosts Africa Melane on a virtual tour, combining Google street view with running commentary and pictures taken on previous tours. "I can't wait to take some 'real' guests on tour showing them these places in 'real-life' again!"

To learn more about Ypie’s work, please visit:

Garden Route Collection (www.gardenroutecollection.co.za to be launched soon)

Bernard Munyanziza of Nziza Hospitality in Uganda

Bernard Munyanziza is a fourth-generation Rwandan born in Uganda and is the founder of Nziza Hospitality and Product Manager at Footprints Travel Uganda. His passion for the tourism and hospitality industry started in the early '90s when he visited his uncle at Mweya Penisula. His Uncle was serving as a leading Zoologist with Uganda National Parks. His father was running a successful cross border business at the time between Uganda and Rwanda when they were impacted by the genocide.

Bernard says "My family was overwhelmed with bank loans and I dropped out of school. In 1998, doorways opened for me when I was recruited by Patrick and Debbie Lewis at Jacana Safari lodge. The property was owned and managed by Inns of Uganda, the first eco-luxury safari company in Uganda.

In the early 90's it was quite challenging serving the tourism and hospitality industry. We had the entire northern circuit that includes Murchison Falls and Kidepo cut off by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the western circuit was cut off by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operating between Semliki, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. But Inspired by a handful of people that crossed my career path, we served the industry with a lot of bestial strength.

I hold an IATA Consultant Diploma with a major in International Travel and Tourism. I have had the privilege to work for one of the leading brand house and consultancy firm that majored in tourism and hospitality startups. This helped me improve my knowledge for branded marketing, administration, and management. From all perspectives, my experience in founding and successfully managing start-ups, I am convinced I'll lead Nziza Hospitality in the right direction over the coming years. I'm an extraordinarily strong advocate of both ethical conservation and humanitarian programs that include: The Gorilla Research Clinic managed by Conservation Through Public Health, Chances for Children, Paper Craft Africa.”

When the global shutdown happened Bernard and his team specialised in creating itineraries that focus on the relationship between man and wildlife. "man has been the only primate that has created an extremely negative impact on the planet. At Nziza Hospitality, we would love to create an industrial revolution. We showcase our style of safaris in a way that man and nature must co-exist. I lead a team of naturalists whose mission is to offer specials to showcase the uniqueness of a place beyond what is displayed on the internet. We book lodges that reflect the style of the places our clients visit and also create employment for the locals. All in all, wildlife, philanthropy & environmental preservation of Africa is the central principle of our ethos."

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

Bernard says “The tourism and conservation industries are seriously underfunded. While we all must take the pandemic seriously, the repercussions of not travelling are disastrous to wildlife and communities that rely heavily on tourism.

We are seeing new developments by East Africa partner states easing the lockdown. Tanzania and Zanzibar are welcoming wageni [guests] on wildlife and beach holidays. Kenya and Rwanda have both set new tourism covid19 protocols and announced that their airports will open from the 1st August 2020. I'm hoping Uganda will follow soon but unsure this will happen as Uganda is home to the largest concentration of primates. We share 98.4% of our DNA and I'm afraid this would affect the primates and communities living on the boundaries of the parks.

But we are not just seated waiting for directives from higher authorities. We are taking a two- way holistic approach towards our business. We understand most clients are no longer receiving pay cheques. However, for those who still get paid and can afford to buy a safari, we encourage our partner agents to engage their clients to book trips using early bird rates. While the current impact across East Africa is very low, we have encouraged our clients to stay calm and observe how the situation unfolds. And the feedback has been very positive.

I can see the future of the 1.2+ billion US dollar Africa Safari industry recover but it requires a lot of time. It is encouraging to read that scientists are doing everything possible to have the vaccine under trial and believe the virus will be contained worldwide but for most western countries that are source markets for the travel industry in Africa a lot of restrictions will be applied for cross border travels.

Although Africa was hit by the last covid19 bullet, a lot has to be done in terms of improving our health systems and tourism infrastructure. Governments in partnership with the private sector have to set up stimulus packages. Small and medium-sized companies will take time to recover. Rest assured we stand in this together, moving forward let's keep monitoring the situation.”

Ri-han De Jager and Brian Craven – Rexford Manor in Knysna, South Africa

Ri-han and Brian are the co-owners of the 4-star Rexford Manor Boutique Hotel on the top of Rexford Hill overlooking Knysna's famous lagoon. They took over the running of the Hotel 3 years ago when they were looking for a new start in their lives together. They have grown the scope of the business and have an emphasis on personal service. The hotel is sumptuous with many theatrical touches. Ri-han says " We want guests to have an experience, live like royalty, be over the top and yet feel that warm, welcome homely feel. It might look like a palace but you still feel like you can walk around barefoot." They have racked up a slew of good reviews online and been voted one of the best honeymoon suites in the World.

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

Ri-han says that their saving grace has been that they decided to change their business model two years ago to focus on Medical Tourism. They used their contacts with some of the most eminent plastic surgeons in the World and refocused the business as a place where clients can recuperate from surgery. Ri-han says "We have the best plastic surgeon in the world on our doorstep, Dr Marshall Murdoch. As well as one of the best Laser Eye Correction surgeons in South-Africa here, Dr Dylan Joseph."

They have been fortunate that medical services are not affected at level 4 lockdown so they have had some local business with South African clients taking advantage of the shutdown to have some procedures done. They spend a week or two recuperating at Rexford Manor as they are close to the specialists. Since they are used to having patients recuperating from surgery, Rexford Manor had already implemented stringent cleaning and hygiene policies, so the new procedures for Covid-19 are not very different.

Brian is an IT Specialist in addition to running Rexford Manor and due to lockdown, his skills have been in high demand so they are earning an income through that. Brian and Ri-han also moved into one of the rooms of the hotel, so that they could rent out their place to try and supplement their income. They applied for government funding, but this was a real struggle and was only for three months, taking a toll on their staff. "This means that we will have to let some of them go, not easy because these people are like family to us.”

They looked into applying for the tourism relief fund promised by the government and South African Philanthropist but it comes with many strings such as being BBEEE compliant. Rexford Manor is too small to have directors who meet these equity requirements. These bailouts also have to repaid with an additional interest rate of 7% as well as additional fees from the banks. This is a risky business move that they are not willing to commit themselves to as they are not sure when they will have full beds and be able to pay everything back. Their Business Interruption Cover was denied as their insurance company amended their policy to avoid paying out interruption cover for the international shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are managing to get by on what Brian can earn and the few medical recovery patients that they have. "So with all of this in consideration, I see myself and Rexford Manor still one of the lucky ones," said Ri-han.

Mark de Villiers of New World Safaris

Mark de Villiers is South African born and bred but has spent many years travelling the world from the Channel Islands to Singapore and Australia. He worked in finance and skills development while completing his Master's degree in Project Development via correspondence course through the George Washington University School of Business in Washington DC. He worked in the mining sector for a few years before the lure of travel drew him in once more. He has spent the last three years with Amazing Africa where he developed new business for the company.

"I have gained unbelievable destination knowledge, an understanding of different cultures in Africa and have met so many like-minded great people. I found my love for nature and a passion for tourism," said Mark.

The pandemic has pushed many of us to re-examine our lives and what we want to achieve. The global shutdown was the final impetus for Mark to push forward with his ambitions and he has just been appointed as Co-Owner and Managing Director of Global Sales at New World Safaris with his business partner Mariano Cuervo. New World Safaris is an existing luxury tour company which offers travel to southern and eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. Mark says, "the company's in-depth local knowledge and its network of contacts built up over years in the field, make sure that guests' time in Africa is everything they hoped for and more."

One of the real advantages that Mark and his team have is the level of communication with their agents and partners around the world. The team consists of consultants who can speak many different languages, so they have a large global client base. Mark and Mariano are very hands-on with the team always asking, 'what else can we do to make you succeed.' They pride themselves on being the support that overseas agents need on the ground to make sure that their clients experience the trip of a lifetime.

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

Marks main role has been communication, instilling hope in clients and travellers that we will travel again. "We as an industry will get through this if we support and stick together. We have found to use this 'down-time' to punt this message and get to that admin we have been putting off, we use this time for planning, having a Resilience Plan, Communication Plan, Strategic Plan and Recovery Plan. This has helped us to stay focused and helped build trust and relationships with new and existing clients."

The company operates across many countries in Africa and he has kept their partners appraised of the situation on the ground – what travel is allowed and the restrictions in place. Mark says "Our communication plan is running shared weekly destination training for clients with the registered guides, product training and meetings to educate, teach and support our employees, agents and clients. We are doing weekly product training with our suppliers and partners to keep up to date with new details, information, the rules and regulations of Covid for example that they have put in place in hotels, restaurants, on transport, etc, upskilling ourselves to educate our agents and travellers, maintain, involve and support the suppliers and partners.

One of Marks most successful platforms has been the use of LinkedIn to communicate with agents and make new connections. Mark says he feels that "agents and travellers will look to Tour Operators that did something during lock-down, those that were active and showing support, being front of mind with agents when this is over." He feels that this is a time for operators to re-evaluate and be flexible to the needs of clients. He feels that there will be a large shift towards FIT (Free Independent Travel) and shift towards younger travellers.

“Having a safe start-up will set the trend for travellers and word of mouth will encourage more to explore our continent as long as all the players in the industry participate and exercise the same caution and safety guidelines. This will create trust and a safety blanket for travellers. I have had positive feedback from people in and outside of my contacts (Domestic and International) and the different industries from LinkedIn enquiring about travel again into Africa, especially agents wanting to upskill their destination knowledge to discuss with their clients where to go and what to do. I trust the industry is using this time for planning and implementing strategies, getting ready for when we can travel again and they have the necessary steps in place.”

You can visit New World Safaris on LinkedIn or visit their website.

Diana Schrieber and Richard Adika Creators of Adventure Expeditions, Kenya

Diana Schrieber and Richard Adika are the husband and wife team behind Adventure Expeditions in Kenya. They offer ground handling of tours throughout Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and further afield. Diana was born and grew up in former East Germany behind the Berlin wall. When the wall fell, she studied business and economics and founded a business as a tax consultant. Diana used her leave to travel and says "from the moment that the charcoal scented air hit me as I got off the plane in Mombasa I was lost," her heart to Africa. And, a few years later she met Richard.

Richard was born in the Eastlands area of Nairobi and he recalls watching the Mombasa – Nairobi train halting at the station next to his school during class and wondering about the magic of travel and where it can take you into the unknown. This 'unknown' grew into a passion for travel and he has spent over two decades as a Tour Guide and Manager for many safari companies in Kenya before founding Adventure Expeditions with Diana. Richard is very well known within the industry in Kenya and his many personal connections mean that they can call on people to help them create experiences that other operators cannot.

“We run it as a family business and don´t want to compete with the big market players. Our intention is it to show the beauty of Kenya - classic, off the beaten track and unknown corners. We commit ourselves to create the most beautiful travel experiences.”

Diana is also the author of the Dumont Travel Guide for East Africa and is constantly travelling and meeting the locals, researching the travel guide throughout the region. This helps her obtain a better understanding of the logistics and creating personal connections that many of their competitors lack.

Diana says, "We are bringing a European mindset and an African understanding to the fore in our operations. We are very hands-on with operations for a constant comprehensive quality all our products. We are focused on sustainability, conservation and walking safaris if possible."

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

“We tried to keep costs small, e.g. break of insurances for liability and vehicles for non-operational time and moved to a home office”. They were involved in getting the Kenya Tourism Board to cut National Park Fees to encourage tourists to return. They took the time to work on their website and make their online presence stronger. They renegotiated with all the lodges to get special rates and specials for the rest of 2020 and 2021.

Tanzania and Kenya have been among the first African countries to re-open for tourism. The Kenyan government along with the WHO and UNWTO put in place stringent hygiene protocols for all accommodations, tour operators, and activities. This meant that Kenya achieved a Safe Travel Certification.

Adventure Expeditions adheres to all the rules with guides being regularly tested for Covid-19 before starting tours and after tours. They have been trained to keep socially distant and ensure that vehicles are constantly sanitized. Adventure Expeditions will only work with properties which have passed the inspections and have a Covid-19 Clearance Certificate. They also work closely under the guidance of AMREF Health Africa.

However, the reality is that while Kenya is open for business, few international travellers are travelling. Many bookings are deferred for travel until next year. The new business for 2021 is non-existent. So, while ready and willing to assist with safaris – they have to look at alternative means to generate income. Richard is looking into agriculture, growing vegetables for local markets. Diana is working on a project to design garden furniture and pet beds along with other local entrepreneurs.

Find out more about Diana and Richard at Adventure Expeditions.

Eugene Relling – Sales ManagerTourvest IME, South Africa

Eugene Relling was born and bred in Durban but traded his surfboard for a pair of "vellies" to move to the Lowveld city of Nelspruit, located on the doorstep of the world-famous Kruger National Park, Recently Eugene relocated with his family down to the Mother City of Cape Town. He has been in the Tourism & Hospitality Industry for the past 12 years in roles that range from Shebeen Manager, Restaurant Owner, Project & Operations Manager for a Nature Training Company, and now the Sales Manager for Tourvest IME.

Tourvest is a South African company with a global footprint, specialising in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) industry part of Tourvest Destination Management. Working with Tourvest in the Meetings, Incentives and Conferencing sector allows Eugene's clients to take advantage of the economies of scale and financial stability offered by such a large group.

Eugene says that the team is made up of highly regarded industry leaders. One of the huge advantages of working with them is that they can accomplish so many varied services in house with their own airline experts. They have an inhouse creative studio who use digital and print mediums to enhance clients marketing. They have their own décor and bar teams, meaning that they are very competitive.

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

“When South Africa went into "lockdown" and the MICE industry came to a standstill, we took all took a few moments to wipe the tears but got straight back into the battle. We focused on Innovation and reimaged the way we do MICE and decided if we can't get our clients to a Meeting, have them enjoy an Incentive, attend a Conference or socialise at an Event then we will bring MICE to them, digitally! We spent weeks on demo's so that our client didn't have to and have partnered with leading companies to bring online solutions and experiences that deliver and achieve the needs of our clients. This is done through Online Team Building, Online Cocktail Events, Hybrid Conferences, Virtual Stands for Expos and Product Launches to name a few.”

Eugene says “Covid-19 has brought with it challenges but it has also opened our eyes in terms of how we conduct "normal" day-to-day business internally moving forward. We are thinking about how does the office environment look like post Covid19 especially given the fact that all of us have been working from home and the office has been standing empty – so we are looking into our rental contracts across the board as well as looking into an office 2.0 where we rather have the likes of hot desks, better meeting spaces, awesome wifi and better coffee. The truth is Covid19 has proved that we don't all need to be in the office from 9 am – 5 pm and then we can work effectively by working remotely.

At the moment we are focusing on hybrid and online solutions (Hybrid meaning that we have a few people coming together for a conference or Awards Ceremony in line with Government Regulations and Health & Safety protocols and the rest of the delegates calling in with video conferencing platforms. Online Solution is where everything is completely online.) These are short term solutions in my opinion, which comes in more affordable than your conventional conference, product launch and similar. While these solutions are great and can achieve what they are designed for, they still lack the X-Factor of physical human Interaction which is a fundamental need for our industry as a whole.

We are focusing on "intelligent tourism" post Covid19 as we look into innovative ways of putting programs together from cost-saving plans, innovative ways of planning and executing elements within the MICE industry. We are focusing on finding unique ways of doing business with Social Distancing in mind and also focusing on keeping clients engaged with their staff, their clients and stakeholders and remain relevant in their various industries.”

Liezel ViljoenFounderLJ Design, South Africa

Liezel Viljoen originally hails from a small town in the Groot Karoo called Laingsburg in South Africa and moved to the coastal town of Strand about 50km from Cape Town after school. She lives with her husband Jaco and their two children Ashley, aged 9 and AJ who is turning 2.

Liezel has worked in the Tourism Industry for 6 years, first with Aquila Game Reserve. And, up until the Covid Pandemic, she was with Marine Dynamics which offers day trip marine tours such as whale watching off the Cape coast. Currently from June to November is when the whales are off the coast and would be their busy time of year. She is also the secretary for her local branch of Skal International in the Cape Winelands.

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

After lockdown started, it became apparent that the Tourism Industry would be severely impacted by the Covid virus. Liezel says "I had to start looking at alternative means of income and it quickly became apparent that masks would become a necessity. Mine and Jaco's preferences are to wear buffs instead of masks." The need for masks was the spark that generated their new business.

Liezel says “my parents bought me an overlocker [sewing machine] while I was still in high-school for sewing projects, thus I haven't worked on it for some time. Changing treads was a big challenge for me at first. One night, I was standing with the sizer ready to cut the treads and just kept it there in place. Jaco asked me what's happening, why am I not cutting the tread. I replied nervously that I have not done it for a long while and was so afraid that I wouldn't be able to re-tread it again. Luckily everything went smoothly and I quickly learnt how to tread the overlocker.

I started by making buffs for myself, Jaco and the worker's in his company. I wanted to make a product that is durable, comfortable, breathable as well as affordable. Other people in the same industry as Jaco saw his buffs and so the word spread. I also started making children buffs and designed a buff with ears for Ashley for when school started. I then expanded my product range and started making blankets.

Janine from Magnolian Design, a school friend of mine, contacted me (LJ Design), The Graceful Hippie, and Hello Soap with the wonderful idea to combine our four products and give away a Woman's Day prize to get exposure for everyone. All products are locally produced and handmade. Something that started as a small idea, added to about 300 likes on my Facebook page, LJ Design.

What makes my products special is that they are handmade and affordable. I visit four different fabric stores regularly to source for specific materials. I offer clients the option to personalize the items by branding them with vinyl or embroidery.

Seeing that we were at the beginning of winter, I started making blankets with the option to have a name embroidered on them. I also started selling leather handbags and leather shoes named vellies. Adele and Nina, the two lovely ladies doing my vinyl on my buffs and embroidery on my blankets have been so amazing, that I recently started advertising branding clothing for example on jackets, jerseys, caps, beanies, shirts, towels, etc. I can also do custom made buffs and buff alterations.

I feel that the tourism industry will take a while to recover and I do think that my products will keep me busy for some time to come. Buffs is such a lovely and versatile product, especially in winter. Perhaps with some creative branding and printing, I can sell buffs to tourists. When people can travel again, I will make use of my contacts and maybe leave some buffs at guesthouses for guests to purchase.

Travelling in Africa and Tourism overall will take a while to recover and go back to where we were. A lot of people have been forced to start working in other sectors and that alone might leave a gap in Tourism. We hope that Tourism recovers as soon as possible because it is such an essential part of our economy and plays a vital role in conservation.

All the beautiful things people from abroad love about Africa is still here and I'm sure they would still like and love to come and experience South-Africa. I am grateful and thankful for the support I've received from my wonderful husband, my parents, family, friends and friends in tourism.”

John Grant of Wine Escapes

John grew up in a farming community in northern KwaZulu Natal in South Africa and moved to Cape Town to study a B Com in 2002. "In 2005 I got a job at a winery called Buitenverwachting as a barman and the trajectory of my life changed. Wine had to be a part of it. I then moved to work as a sommelier at Belthazar Restaurant, where the idea to start a specialist wine tourism business, Wine Escapes, was born."

Wine Escapes offers private, tailored and informative tours of the Cape Winelands, taking international clients around some of the finest wineries in the Cape while providing them with in-depth information about our growing areas, history and culture.

All tours are totally private and are tailored around the client's palates and tastes. The main distinction is the experience of the guides who lead the tours – all are wine specialists – with a long history in the wine industry and huge knowledge of the wines guests are tasting.

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

“When the Covid-19 shutdown started, we realised that although people were stuck at home, they still wanted to have some entertainment, interaction with people and information about various topics. We saw a potential for wine to fit into this and used a lecture that I had given for years, adapted to work online. The concept was to make the courses live so that people could interact with each other and us and ask all the questions they needed to about wine. It was a great success and have had about 135 people from all around South Africa and the world doing it already!!

We started with our "Introduction to Wine" Course, and have now launched "South Africa Uncorked", a course for staff of lodges, restaurants and hotels and private, virtual tastings. We are also offering vouchers, with unlimited validities for redemption when the shutdown ends.”

Uncork a bottle and visit Wine Escapes’ Website, Facebook Page & Course Information – cheers!

Anton Lategan from EcoTraining in South Africa

Anton is the Managing Director of EcoTraining, a guide training school in South Africa. EcoTraining was established in 1993 in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa. They aim to enhance professional guiding standards in the safari industry.

Having worked in several top safari lodges Anton realised the impact that well-trained guides have on the environment and local African communities. As well the guides create the experiences and impressions of international travellers. These combine to shape the country and this led him to EcoTraining, where he worked his way up to become Managing Director.

EcoTraining is the longest standing, most accredited, and largest organization of its type in Africa. EcoTraining has now trained over 13,000 people from 33 countries. Graduates from their courses have very high standards of training, and a culture of nature guiding that is sought after in the Environmental and Safari industry. Their training camps are unfenced and situated in magnificent wildlife areas such as the Kruger National Park in South Africa, Botswana, and the Masai Mara in Kenya.

The scope and mission of EcoTraining has evolved and they now train people from all over the world on different programs to suit their interests in Wildlife and Environmental awareness.

They train Universities from the USA and UK on their study abroad programs, Chinese EcoQuest groups, individual adventure seekers, people taking sabbaticals, gap years, birders, trackers, to name a few! Anton says "we simply want to connect people with nature, provide a real understanding and respect for the natural world and to inspire people to do what is right."

Anton says "I see EcoTraining as a movement for developing and inspiring environmental champions. We are a business but its people that will make the decisions and policies and laws around the world in future. I want to make sure we equip people with a real understanding and respect of our natural world so that we can steer the future sustainability of our planet.

We choose and develop the right team of people that have a very high level of commitment and purpose towards empowering the people we are responsible for.”

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

Its been hard for the team as we have been separated for 4 months now but technology is allowing the team to stay in touch and led to constant innovation. The team decided to offer 'coupons' which people could purchase for a guaranteed course after the shutdown to try and guarantee some cashflow. Its also very important to remain connected with our community throughout this Covid era.

However, one of the main innovations has been the way that the EcoTraining Team have developed e-learning / online courses that are becoming very popular. "It is a way for people to bring nature home, and we have managed to expand our reach and delivery of our mission through media. We currently feature on WildEarth Safari live for about 6 hours a day with guides out in various reserves in South Africa such as the world-famous Sabi Sands. Streamed Live on the internet and various cable television channels the programs are interactive and members of the public can message and interact with the guide hosting the stream, meaning that they can answer questions about what people are watching in real-time. This creates an authentic experience just like being on a real safari.

The WildEarth Safari Live is also broadcast on national television in South Africa on SABC 3 for an hour a day, allowing many ordinary South Africans who may not be able to afford to go on safaris in these wildlife areas to get a glimpse of the wonderful wildlife that their country is home to.

The programs are also being promoted through the most successful tourism website in South African tourism called Latest Sightings.com and they have partnered with Painted Dog TV to produce more and varied content to inspire people to become passionate about conservation.

In a way, the global shutdown has made what the company offers much stronger as they are a stronger combination of e-learning / digital/virtual experiences and practical/sensory experiences. There is ultimately no comparison to the natural freedom and importance of being out in nature.

Anton is positive about the future, "resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. We as humans are part of a naturally resilient world. Micro and macro organisms in nature have countless interrelationships that keep our natural world healthy and our modern world functional. Through our eyes, we only see the macro-organisms around us but there is so much more going on that sustains us beyond our modern perceptions. We are not voyeurs of nature, we are citizens of the natural world! Our bodies rely on and are made up of many microorganisms as part of a healthy system."

Humanity is being reminded now more than ever that we are not the owners of this planet. We have the choice to live as respectful inhabitants and behave as responsible guardians of the natural world. The lessons and solutions rest in nature, our scientific community is valuable but ultimately it is the understanding of our natural world that offers us the solutions we seek. As we seek solutions from nature in times of crisis, let's hope that we remember to protect nature when we continually place nature in crisis.

It is profound to witness humanity acting collectively against a common threat, perhaps for the first time in history at this scale? It is natural because we feel threatened but it gives me hope that we humans are potentially a caring being. It gives me hope that we can extend this care to the natural world as it has cared for us since the beginning of our existence. EcoTraining is committed to teaching people how resilient nature is and in turn how resilient we are as people."

You can find out more and support EcoTraining’s Mission, creating World-Class Safari Guides and passionate Guardians of Nature, on YouTube, Facebook, and their informative website. Be sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter @ecotraining as well!!

Lisa Steffen and Louise DodgenCape Town, South Africa

Louise Dodgen was born in Africa in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. She says "my passion since a child of 5 guiding my friends around on bicycles, has always been to show people the most amazing gems from bush to beach, big 5 to small 5, sunrises to sunsets. With my passion for people, travel, exploring and adventures the combination is just what fuels me and gives me life. I moved "down south" to Cape Town where fynbos, flowers, beautiful sights and enjoying the 4 seasons in one day became just as exciting."

My first tourism job at 18 was taking people on canoe trips down the rivers of South Africa, then onto becoming the first qualified canoe and rafting woman to guide on the Zambezi River based in Victoria Falls. [Editor: Emphasis added. Is that not amazingly spectacular or what?!]

I have such fun driving and laughing with my clients running wild and free and just being me. I just absolutely love and cherish my chosen career. I am a lover of making memories, capturing the moments and savouring each day as a blessing of adventures, friends and fun.

There is nothing like toasting to the sunset with good company, sun-kissed faces, great experiences throughout the day, "no more space" on the camera's no matter how many cards were brought. Cheers to you all! That's what I call Life!

Lisa Steffen grew up in Cape Town and is officially a True Capetonian. She says "I love, breathe and live for Cape Town! I have always had a love for travel and originally wanted to be an Air Hostess, but due to my height was not able to reach the overhead baggage cabins. My career began in the corporate world, but all that admin and fine red tape with strict clerical uniforms just dampened my personality.

After 14 years in Corporate I realized if I did not make a drastic change now, I never would. So I dropped the briefcase, high heels, suits and makeup and replaced it with my first pair of jeans and flat shoes. Went back to College as a student when my daughter started Grade 1 to study International Tourism and do a Tour Guiding course."

African Trax Tours/Travel was birthed in July 2008 with a passion for people and travel. As registered Tour Guides, we saw a market open for personalized tours and flexibility. Louise Dodgen was one of the first registered tour guides in South Africa, her badge number is 01**, Lisa Steffen tour guide badge number 27**. South Africa at present has over 15000 registered tour guides, so we have been in the industry a long time, previously working and freelancing for various companies. Thus, our experience of what clients want and what works is what makes us stand out.

Our company then expanded from school groups where we prepared fresh homemade meals to wedding groups, couples who wanted to get married in South Africa and bring their friends and family for tours and Safaris. Our reputation steadily grew through word of mouth and more families wanted our services, where we included fun activities for children.

Lisa says one of their greatest assets is "our love for the industry, our honesty, flexibility and that each client is VIP and not just a number. Our tours are informative with loads of fun added to maximize their vacation experience. We have also not spent any monies on marketing, all our clients have been from word of mouth referrals, repeat clients and our Facebook page African Trax Travel and our webpage."

What ways have you found to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your business?

Since February we have had cancellations, no bookings, hence no income. Tourism shut down, and we were in lockdown for 4 months. Later to break the chains for survival we hosted an open and honest raffle, with only 150 tickets available to win a family weekend away. We were blessed that friends/clients came on board and purchased tickets.

With proceeds of the raffle, we donated 10% to a feeding scheme at our church to help with food parcels to the starving people. We know what it's like to have no money for food. We also personally blessed another family with an additional 5-10% of the proceeds. The raffle helped to cover some of the build-ups of the last 4-5 months expenses, yet not enough to cover everything/salaries.

Lisa says "I love my 'job' which really is not a job, but my passion. I cannot wait to be on the road again. but in the meantime, I have gone from being on the road to being in the kitchen. We had to think out of the box, and after much thought, Our Bakes & Rusks began as a side-line to the tourism business. Lots of experiments and 'failed recipes 'we finally developed our flagship Gourmet Health Rusks, which have become addictive.

We have also added Rustic Buttermilk rusks and 100% Sugar-Free Rusks. With a request for Pecan Nut Pie from a client celebrating Canada day, we now offer Pecan Pie - freshly made pastry, loaded with pecans and a caramelized centre, as a weekly order. And finally, after baking my traditional Chocolate Cake, we have had 2 orders already. We hope to continue offering this service, expanding to employ staff once Tourism opens again.”

Louise says "I definitely miss being on the road, laughing and exploring but in the meantime, I am assisting with "Our bakes and rusks" making labels, deshelling pecan nuts, deliveries so vehicles don't get cobwebs and battery stays charged, washing pans, dishes, taking orders, sanitizing counters and the works so until Covid is over you'll find me in the kitchen, apron on running my legs off in a different way."

Tourism is a luxury and we believe it will take a while to get back on its feet. Once a vaccine has been discovered and tested, it will be we believe come back to normal. People are wanting to get out and about again and enjoy freedom once more.

Lisa and Louise’s inspiring ventures can be found on Facebook: African Trax Travel and the newly invented Our Bakes & Rusks

Michael English Freelance Writer and Luxury Travel Consultant

Time to mount the soapbox and tell you about the author of this article. My name is Michael English and I was born and raised in Zimbabwe on farms and ranches among cattle, ostriches and a crocodile farm. Holidays were often spent out in the African bush in Hwange National Park and Mana Pools where we could walk on foot in Big Five country and a love of the African bush was born.

However, I never intended to go into the tourism industry – that was just serendipity. I got a job copywriting for a tour operator and have spent the last decade in various tourism companies on website content and product development roles. The job has been a wonderful gift which has allowed me to see parts of our beautiful continent that I never thought that I would see – from a closer than expected face to face encounter with a Silverback Mountain Gorilla to hiking through the remaining Madagascan jungle in search of lemurs. This on the ground knowledge and contacts led me to be a Luxury Travel Consultant and share these incredible regions of Africa with people from around the world.

I worked for a very small boutique luxury travel company called Africa&You when the global shutdown happened. We were busy growing the business and the team during the last year, but as the forward cancellations came in, it was clear that they would not be able to keep the staff going forward. Sadly, I was retrenched along with most of the staff. So I have spent the last few months relying on my skills as a copywriter, editor and storyteller to get by - writing articles about travel in Africa until we can all travel again. I took a course in digital marketing and SEO to improve this area of my knowledge in building websites so that they rank and get better traffic and conversion.

Revenue from tourism supports a huge number of jobs throughout Africa as well as funds conservation for the protection of these wilderness areas. Without the income from tourism, these regions come under greater threat from poaching.

Nature is resilient. The people of Africa are resilient and resourceful. We are finding ways to make ends meet, drawing strength from each other and our communities. New opportunities are opening up and many of us are hopeful that tourism will return in a more thoughtful, sustainable manner than before. There will be many opportunities for rebirth, growth and renewal in the silver lining which the current Covid storm brings. We look forward to the day when we can welcome travellers back to our special part of the world so they can experience it for themselves.

Editor: You can find and keep up with Michael’s inspirational & thought provoking writings on his LinkedIn Page.

Mweya Safari Lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda ©Flyga Twiga™ LLC


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