Above: Oliver Hardy, right, of the Laurel & Hardy comedy team was born in Harlem, Georgia. He’s part of the state’s history and is celebrated with a annual festival in his birthplace. Photo courtesy of Laurel & Hardy Museum, Harlem, Ga.
Autumn in Georgia means cooler temperatures, colorful leaves and festivals. Many of those fests feature food — like Booklet, Ga.’s Peanut Festival — or spotlight the arts — such as the Dancing Goats FolkFest in Ellijay, Ga.
Try something a little more unusual and consider traveling out of the city to go back in time. Here are six Georgia festivals that celebrate our history.
Ocmulgee Indian Celebration
For the past 26 years, thousands of visitors have come by to take part in this event. It’s one of the largest Native American gatherings in the southeast, bringing more than 200 craftsmen, history demonstrators, dancers, musicians and storytellers.
The 702-acre Ocmulgee National Monument includes mounds and artifacts from the Native American culture amid the beautiful grounds. It’s the perfect setting for historical demonstrations by Native Americans that include warriors on horseback and living history camps.
When: Saturday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Ocmulgee National Monument, 1207 Emery Hwy., Macon, Ga. 31217, about a 2-hour drive from Atlanta on I-75 S
Cost: $6 for adults; $3 for ages 6-12 and military with ID; free for ages 5 and under
Inman Farm Heritage Days
This is the 22ndyear for the Inman Farm Heritage Days, a community event that celebrates the people, machinery and crafts that were part of life on the farm. There’s the usual festival atmosphere and offerings — food, entertainment, shopping — mingled with exhibits on farm life, such as moonshine production, a working lumber mill and sorghum syrup cooking, as well as blacksmithing and broom making. One of the highlights is a parade that features a wide range of vintage and antique tractors.
When: Friday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 23, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: Minter’s Farm, 283 Hills Bridge Rd., Fayetteville, Ga. 30215, about a 1½-hour drive from Atlanta on I-85 S
Cost: There’s no admission fee, but visitors are encouraged to purchase programs or T-shirts.
Gram Parsons Guitar Pull & Tribute Festival
Every year, thousands of people gather in Waycross, Ga., the hometown of Gram Parsons, to enjoy a music festival and honor the musician. A one-time member of The Byrds and a founding member of The Flying Burrito Brothers, Parsons is considered to be the father of country rock music. Though he died at age 26 in 1973, Parson’s musical legacy endures.
The family-friendly festival invites everyone “from babies in diapers to old hippies,” according to the website, and vendors offer food and drink, arts, clothing, music and more.
Twenty-seven acts are slated to appear on the festival’s two stages. This year’s headliners are Marty Stuart & the Fabulous Superlatives, Ian Dunlop and John Beland. Other musical guests include The Crabgrass Cowboys and Hickory Wind.
When: Thursday, Sept. 27, 6-10 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 28, 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday, Sept. 29, 2 p.m.-1 a.m.
Where: Okefenokee Fairgrounds, 2451 Knight Ave., Waycross, Ga. 31501, about a 4½-hour drive from Atlanta on I-75 S and US 82 E
Cost: Advance 3-day passes available; check the website for pricing.
Great Locomotive Chase Festival
Now celebrating its 50thyear, the Great Locomotive Race Festival is named for the Civil War escapade by Andrews’ Raiders. The Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum has displays that show the town’s pivotal role in capturing Andrew’s Raiders. Local historians are available to share information. The festival offers arts, crafts and food vendors as well as entertainment, rides and a fireworks display.
When: Friday, Oct. 5, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 6, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, Oct 7, 12-5 p.m.
Where: Adairsville Public Square, 116 Public Square, Adairsville, Ga. 30103, about a 1-hour ride from Atlanta on I-75 N
Cost: $3 admission
Oliver Hardy Festival
Half of the iconic comedy duo of Laurel and Hardy hales from Georgia. Oliver Hardy was born in Harlem, Ga., and the town holds an annual celebration in his honor. There’s a parade that starts at 10 a.m., and throughout the day, visitors enjoy foods, entertainment and crafts booths, as well as Laurel and Hardy impersonators.
The town’s Laurel and Hardy Museum is also worth a visit. It boasts a collection of memorabilia and regularly shows some of the duo’s films.
When: Saturday, Oct. 6, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Downtown Harlem, Ga. 30814, about a 2½-hour drive from Atlanta on I-20 E
Cost: Free admission
Catface Turpentine Festival
Celebrate Georgia’s history and learn about turpentine, once an important part of the state’s economy, and the art of turpenting, turning pine resin into turpentine using simple methods. The turpenting process results in two products: oil of turpentine, an ingredient used in paints and varnishes; and rosin, a reddish translucent substance with many uses, including waterproofing.
Visitors to the Portal, Ga. festival should visit the town’s turpentine museum to hear guides share the story and history of turpentine and see displays of tools used in the collection and cooking of pine tree gum.
At 10 a.m. on the day of the festival, a parade kicks off in downtown Portal and at 7 p.m., there’s a street dance, featuring the Dilligaf Country Band. Throughout the day, there’ll be rides, live entertainment, arts and crafts, cake walks and delicious foods, such as the rosin baked potato. The Portal still will be fired up during the festival and turpentine made from it will be available for sale.
When: Saturday, Oct. 6, 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Where: Carter Turpentine Still, Portal, Ga. 30450, about a 3½-hour drive from Atlanta on I-75 S and I-16 E
Cost: Free admission and parking