Georgia Apple Festival
Where: Ellijay, GA at Ellijay Lions Club Fairground
When: 2nd and 3rd week of October
What: Celebration centered on the apple, introduced into the county in the early 1900′s. The apple saved Gilmer County from the devastation of the boll weevil.
Who doesn’t love apples? Apples are definitely at the heart of the Georgia Apple Festival. They’ve got apple fritters, fried pies (that would be apple turnovers to you northerners) and many other apple treats for the apple of your eye, but there are many other facets of The Georgia Apple Festival. There are hundreds of booths featuring those famous Ellijay craftsmen along with artists and craftsmen from throughout the Southeastern United States. The festival also includes a fun area for the kids with those airbags that the younguns love and a rock climbing wall for older kids and adults. Looking for entertainment? How about a wide variety of acts – everything from cloggers to country music, gospel to rock and roll. Its all here at the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay.
What can you say about a city so in love with a fruit that they turn their high school football field into avenues with names like Winesap, Rome Beauty, Red Delicious and Granny Smith Circle for an apple festival? Well, there is a reason Gilmer County likes to celebrate apples. It all stems from a small insect that destroyed the bolls of cotton, then by far the most popular crop. Known as the boll weevil, from 1922 until 1925 it swept throughout the state of Georgia wrecking not only the cotton crop, but local economies as well. Gilmer County farmers had introduced the apple as a crop in the early 1900′s and by the time of the boll weevil infestation the county had sufficient income from apples to offset at least a part of the damage done by the insect.
In 1970 the local merchants decided to hold a celebration of the fruit that saved the county. At first the fair was small – both the fair and parking were handled at the same field. Today’s fair has grown significantly, with satellite parking and a complex busing system to get folks from their cars to the festival, then back again at the end of the day. Ride times rarely exceed 20 minutes either way.
Come prepared to do some walking. Granny Smith Circle forms an outside loop, with other roads inside. All in all, a perfectly executed walk is probably close to 2 miles, including the journey from the bus stop to the festival and getting to and from your car. There are some places to sit, mostly out in the open. The only covered area is where the entertainment is held and a small group of vendors nearby.
About North Georgia Tips for the Georgia Apple Festival:Remember to bring a large bag to carry your purchases. We normally take one of those large canvas bags, because carrying even two or three small paper bags can be a pain.
Rest rooms are a problem, so plan on a wait before using them. They are all the portable kind – bring hand sanitizer.
Try to park in the high school parking lot. Wind your way to the end of the lot and park just before the chain link fence. This way its fairly easy to walk to the festival and you can avoid the wait for the bus at the end of the day, but the hike back to the parking is uphill.