The first day of summer is coming up June 21 this year, and that means the kickoff of a boatload of warm weather activities in communities throughout Georgia. There are plenty of festivals and events scheduled. Some will happen earlier than the official start of summer, but they are expected to draw large crowds nonetheless.
The 38th annual Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival will be June 2-4. The event is billed as the south’s oldest balloon event, and the United States’ only long distance hot air balloon race. Weather permitting, it will begin at 7 a.m. on June 2, when 30 brightly-colored balloons take to the sky. If weather conditions are too windy or storms are forecasted, the takeoff will be postponed until conditions are acceptable. The race begins in Helen, and the finish line is Interstate 95, anywhere between Maine and Miami. The shortest distance is 225 miles, and the race usually takes two days. The winner is the first person to cross I-95, or whoever is ahead at sunset on June 3.
There will also be noncompetitive champagne balloon rides. On June 4 there will be 10-minute tethered rides, allowing the balloons to float 50-75 feet above the ground, at $10 per person. One-hour champagne balloon rides will also be available, at a cost of $300 per person. For more information on the balloon rides: (706) 865-3874 or (706) 878-2271.
The 25th annual Georgia Peach Festival is June 4-11 in Fort Valley. There will be concerts, food, a parade, arts and crafts, music and dancing, and fireworks. The main attraction is what promoters call the world’s largest peach cobbler. The behemoth dessert is 11 by five feet, and about eight inches deep. It is made using 90 pounds of butter, 150 pounds of sugar, 150 pounds of flour, 32 gallons of milk and 75 gallons of peaches. The cobbler is prepared in a brick oven located in the parking lot of the Peach County Courthouse, which was constructed especially for the cobbler. For a baking pan, the chefs utilize the floor panels of school buses donated by Blue Bird Corporation.
The very first Georgia Peach Festival was held in 1986, to promote Peach County and the peach industry in Georgia. The purpose of the event is to honor peach growers for their contribution to the state’s economy, and to the food industry nationwide. The festival holds the honor of being the only state-sanctioned food festival. For more information on the festival and a list of the various venues for each activity: (478) 825 4002 or (877) 322-4371.
The Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games is scheduled for June 11-12. The activities will include athletic games, ceremonies, Scottish dances, food, live music, clan gatherings, demonstrations of ancient Scottish weaponry, and children’s activities. The kids’ entertainment includes train rides, miniature golf, a space walk, face painting, and athletic games geared towards the wee ones. Also sure to draw crowds are the animal exhibits, live demonstrations and re-enactments.
The games will be preceded by the Kilted Golf Classic at the Butternut Creek Golf Course, and the Ceilidh Dinner and entertainment at Brasstown Valley Resort, both on June 10. Tickets for the various activities range in price. Admission to the festival at Meeks Park June 11-12 is $10 per day for adults or $15 for two days, and free for children 12 and under. For group rates: (706) 745-2161 or (800) 781 1916. Tickets for the Ceilidh Dinner are $40 per person. Entertainment will feature The Hooligans, Tres De Solei, Sam Johnson on pipes, and humorist Bob Valentine. For more information on the dinner: (706) 379-3181. The golf classic is limited to 20 teams, and costs $75 per golfer. Ticket prices for clans and societies are $30, which includes two weekend tickets, site space and souvenir programs.
For a change of pace, the 25th annual Atlanta Fest Christian Music Festival is scheduled for June 15-18 at Stone Mountain Park. The musical extravaganza will feature the top names in contemporary Christian music, including Casting Crowns, Mercy Me, Seventh Day Slumber, Chris August, Disciple, Sidewalk Prophets, and Open Door. The musical styles will range from rock and pop, to rap and hip hop. The schedule will be 7-10 p.m. on June 15, and 9-11 p.m. June 16-18. There will also be a lineup of Christian education seminars featuring speakers including Scott Dawson, David Nasser, Mark Hall, Brent Crowe, Rick Burgess, Erin Bethea, Bob Lenz, Ergun Caner, Joey Hill, and Ken Bevel. Ticket prices for adults, children and groups vary according to date and the number of days. For ticket information: (800) 965-9324 or (800) 783-8839.
Ticketholders receive full access to all Atlanta Fest concerts, seminars, worship sessions, games and exhibitions. Additionally, they receive a wristband which serves as a Stone Mountain Park “Adventure Pass,” for unlimited access to open attractions including the Summit Skyride, Scenic Railroad, 4-D Theater, The Great Barn, Sky Hike Challenge, Paddlewheel Riverboat, Pedal Boats, Camp Highland Outpost, Great Locomotive Chase Adventure Golf, Antebellum Plantation and Farmyard, Discovering Stone Mountain Museum at Memorial Hall, Antique Car, and Treasure Museum.
Organizers of the Decatur Beach Party will bring the sea to the city on June 17, from 5 p.m.-midnight. The city will bring in 60 tons of sand and turn the square into a beach for this annual event, and there will be dancing in the streets to beach music from a live band. Activities will include children’s boardwalk games, face painting, wading pools in the sand and more. Ticket prices are $7 in advance for adults, or $10 at the gate. Children 12 and under will be admitted free (limit two children per paying adult). No coolers, glass or pets are allowed. The party is sponsored by the Decatur Business Association. Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit downtown improvement projects. For information: (404) 371-8386.
The City of Flovilla will go back in time for its Midsummer Night’s Eve Festival, on June 25 from 3 p.m.-midnight. Its hearty invitation to the public reads, “Welcome lords and ladies to the Midsummer Night’s Eve Festival! For one glorious eve, join in the merriment of nobles and fairies as we celebrate midsummer! Amble through the Whimsical Gardens while listening to a bardic tune. Watch knights engage each other in a tournament to be the Summer Knight. Warm yourself by a bonfire once darkness falls. Wander amidst the fairies in the enchanted forest. Enjoy mead and music in the pub. All of this and more awaits you at the — festival.”
The venue for the event is 1834 Georgia Highway 42 South, in Flovilla. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for children under 12, and free for children under 3. There will be free pony rides for children from 3-7 p.m., fencing in the Bear Pit at 3 p.m., a game of Capture the Flag at 4 p.m., and a Masquerade Ball with medieval music at 8 p.m. in the Royal Gardens. The attractions include stage performances by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, a Summer Knight Duel, and musical performance by Three Quarter Ale, Men of Melody, and Celtic Ties. For information: (478) 394-3898.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are plenty more summer activities throughout Georgia in July and August. Check out all the offerings, and have a great summer.
Caption: Hot Air Balloon
Create Date: 5/17/2011