Thursday, October 2, 2014

County Fair in Chickamauga, Georgia

 Earlier this past September my husband and I spent 10 days at our daughter and son-in-law's house in Tennessee while they attended a conference in Boston.  We stayed with the grandchildren.  It was fun being with them.  The two oldest 7 and 5 years old went to school but the youngest, 3 years old, stayed with us during the day.  The youngest baby, 1 1/2 years old, had gone to Boston with her parents.  My husband had a great time listening to his little grandson's tales.  Below are the two au-pair yound ladies wearing Boston tee-shirts.  On the left is the au-pair from China and on the right the French au-pair from New Caledonia.  All the grandchildren are learning Chinese, and can already speak a little.

Coming back from our earlier visit to Tennessee in mid-August, I drove on little country roads along the freeway and we went in a bakery which I showed on my post Local Food in Appalachian Hills of August 18, 2014 - click here if you have not seen it.  This time I drove down the freeway from Nashville and just before Chattanooga took my usual detour via the Chattahoochee National Forest.  There were many signs advertizing a county fair.  Since it was still early on Sunday, we decided to have a look at the fair.  It seems we drove a long way before arriving there.  Below, top map, shows the route from Brentwood, below Nashville, to my usual turn before Chattanooga.  The bottom map shows, in blue, the route to the fair and in maroon the route I usually use to get back to the I-75 freeway; so it was a big detour.  (click on collage to enlarge.)

Since we came back home I have done a bit of reading about Walker County and Mountain Cove Farms, the location for this fair, the first one ever.

Walker County, Georgia, borders the state of Tennessee.  It was created from land seized from the native Cherokee Indians and divided, in 1832, among white settlers through a land lottery.  The Cherokees were herded away on the infamous Trail of Tears.  (I wrote about this in my post of July 26, 2009 "Staying at the Cherokee Indian Reservation" click here to see it.)  In 1836, the county seat town was named Lafayette, in honor of the French Marquis.  One major tourist attraction in this county is Chickamauga Battlefield National Park, the oldest and largest military park in the US.  We visited the park a couple of years ago and I still have to write a post on it.  In 1863, during the Civil War, 34,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the Battle of Chickamauga - it is considered the second bloodiest of the war.  The back roads that took us to the fair were curvy, narrow and very picturesque.  We were in a valley with mountains on both sides - Lookout Mountain, on the Tennessee side and Pigeon Mountain on the Georgia side.  I wished to stop many times to take pictures but with the narrow roads it was not easy.  There was an abundance of green color - no hint of fall coming yet.

The valley is called McLemore Cove after Robert and John McLemore, who were the sons of a Cherokee mother and a white trader.  In 1994 the cove was listed in the National Register of Historic Places for periods of significance dating from 1825 to 1949.  It did serve also as a temporary encampment for 15,000 Union troops during the Civil War.  It is one of the most intact rural landscape in Georgia, and at 50,141 acres, the largest historic district in the state.  It felt like driving in another era as there were very few new buildings but mostly historic houses, barns, clapboard churches, shady country lanes, rolling pastures, lush forested slopes, ancient red cedar trees and cattle grazing behind barbed wire fences.  The fair was held at the historic Mountain Cove Farms.

In mid-2000 the McLemore Cove property, including the historic farm and its land were going to be sold to developers and subdivided, but in 2008 the Walker County Commissioner persuaded the State of Georgia to partner with the county and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation (early president of Coca-Cola) to acquire the farm and land to protect it.  Walker County has made extensive renovations to the main house, barns, and the 1947 workers' cabins (which can be rented.)  There is also a country store, a restaurant and the Manor House for special events.  We drove by these when we left the fair but did not stop - we will have to return another time.

We parked our vehicle then took a small minibus to the fair floor.  There, a small carnival with rides was set up near the road.  But we did not stop and took a ride up a steep hill to the fair.  A pick-up with a trailer filled with bales of hay provided the ride.  You can see the minibus on the top left hand picture below.

From the top of this hill the vista around us was very pastoral - so peaceful and rustic.

The pick-up transportation went further to another building on the farm where some of the animals had been judged earlier.  We stayed by the big show barn and I took pictures of the valley below.

This large white barn is called the "Show Barn" because between 1947 and 1967, stock shows took place there.  Cattle ranchers competed for blue ribbons for their Hereford cattle.  On Labor Day weekends it was the site of the annual Southeastern Rodeo.

Now, prize winning vegetables were shown inside the show barn, as well as baked goods and quilts.

An apiarist (beekeeper) had an exhibit showing how honey is collected.  He also gave free samples of his honey.

Maggie, the Mayfield cow, was guarding the grounds outside the barn.  If Mayfield had been giving free ice-cream samples, I did not see them - must have been earlier in the fair.

After looking at Maggie, the fiberglass bovine, we walked toward a flesh and blood one.  This was a 5 years old prize winning Texas Longhorn cow.  It weighed 1750 lbs (784 ks) and its horns extended to 7 feet wide (2 m 134.)  Its owner let little children sit on the cow for picture taking.  Behind, in a pen, was another beautiful Longhorn.

Another pen had a pretty alpaca - a domesticated species of camelid (such as camels and llamas.) Its owner, Susan B. Darling of the "Little Darlings Alpacas" ranch also showed some knitted items made with the alpaca wool.

Alpacas have been domesticated for thousands of years and originate from the Andes Mountain Range of South America.  Alpacas are warm, clean and fuzzy little animals.  They come in 22 natural colors and their soft wool is easily died into lovely colors.  If I had more land - and stayed home - I certainly would obtain one or two alpacas as pets.

Then we walked around, looking at all the exhibits and booths.  Even though I still have so much homemade jam, I could not resist one type I did not make this year - pear.

Music was in the air - so we walked toward it.  It was the Dennis Brown and Dr. Ted Scoggins Band.  Dr. Scoggins is a family doctor in nearby Lafayette.  For a while it looked as it might rain but the clouds passed us by.  The local television station was filming the band as well.

We left the fair and drove up and down the mountain and winding roads before being back on the valley floor again.  The landscape was certainly bucolic and tranquil - no cars behind or ahead of us.

At the end of a road shaded by old trees we came to a large open space, with a lake in the background.  A wood sign announced that this was the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area.  The late Jack Crockford was a friend and colleague at work of my husband.  This area is not visited very much.  It has miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing and many caves.

We then drove by some cows peacefully grazing in a field covered with yellow wildflowers.  Luckily there was on old church across the field, so I briefly parked there to take photos.  The church, Mt. Olive, was established in 1887.

I photographed the cows who did not mind me at all.  I could have stayed there a long time, but we had to drive back home.

We stopped on the way in a small country barbecue restaurant and shared a small meal (ribs, fried sweet potatoes and okras, peach cobbler,) and enjoyed reading the signs on the wall.

The next morning we saw that our potted plants had not suffered during our absence.  They looked very healthy.  A purple flowered plant had grown tremendously.  We bought it as a tiny green plant, without a tag.  Now the flowers are lovely, but we do not know what type of plant it is.  Anyone knows?


Elephant's Child said...

What a beautiful area. I couldn't have resisted that fair either - and am so glad you went and took us with you.

Jenny Woolf said...

All this countryside stuff... it looks such fun going around these old places and seeing such interesting things. My favourite would be the produce show with the little displays to help visitors to understand. That cow cracked me up. I think if I was a child, I'd have been rather scared of it!

Roger Gauthier said...

Isn't this beautiful? I am always amazed at the amount of work you put into a single post. And I must say, they're fun to read through and through. Vagabonder d'une places à l'autre, d'un continent à l'autre… we're going to South Caroline at the end of November.

DJan said...

Ahhhh. I feel as if I have just finished a wonderful excursion into a lovely place with you, VB. I was especially enchanted with the beautiful alpacas. I think it would be so cool to actually have a relationship with one! Thank you for your incredible post. I'll need to read it again to get everything out of it. Thank you. :-)

Marja said...

What a treat this trip. i always love spontaneous trips to undiscovered places. love the barn and the restaurant building and the ride uphill
The landscape is gorgeous and the fair great. Enjoy your jam. Can't believe that the area of Crockford Pigeon mountain isn't visited very much.
The waterfall is stunning. You flowers are beautiful too. Thanks for sharing

ELFI said...

jolie escapade sur la paille!
j'aime les alpagas et les bêtes à cornes ..pas la vache maggie :)))

Thérèse said...

Quite a nice and interesting review. I haven't eaten okras in ages.

Jono said...

I have been through Tennessee a couple of times, but never more than an overnight stay. If I get to do it again, I'll stay longer.

David said...

Vagabonde, Those small country fairs are the best! Much more personal and the people are always friendly. Thanks for the information on the McLemore Cove and Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area! We now have another area to explore... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Ginnie said...

This fair reminds me of the Ionia State Fair I attended as a junior high-schooler in Michigan, Vagabonde...more like a 4-H Fair. Believed it or not, I'm reading this on Friday, the day we're taking Nicholas to the same Cumming County Fair that we're taken him to since he was 2. He still wants to go. "It's a tradition," he says! And we love to go with him, of course! :)

Nadezda said...

Wonderful trip, Vagabonde!I liked the photo of Jim and his grandson, he's attentively listening to the boy! A cow Maggie looks very sexy :))
Your garden in pot is flowering very nice, sorry I do not know this plant.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, reading your posting made me hungry for pear jam--a favorite of mine--and fried okra, which Mom used to make.

The wooden vehicles--planes and trains--in the collage of photographs are true works of art. Peace.

sallie ( said...

A pretty area indeed! (I came here because of your comment on Time Goes By (an older post about making friends) so I know it isn't perfect for you, but it is lovely here how you show the fun parts of it. When we traveled full time (in an RV)we learned that there are good things about many places that (before we stayed there) we might have thought there was nothing positive.

Kay said...

Everything about this trip was so much fun and interesting. I love that fuzzy alpaca. I actually knew someone who raised them.

ANNE said...

looks like such a fun place! Thanks for sharing it. xox

Frances said...

Vagabonde, I've had a very quick look at this mrvelous post...and those just before it. I promise to get back for a proper read before long, and will write you again then.

Just wanted to say hello for now.. xo

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful post, beginning with the big shiny cow! You DO know how to make the most of travel. As for the purple flower -- perhaps a salvia of some sort? Or a gentian?

Draffin Bears said...

Lovely to discover your blog and many thanks for visiting me.
Looks like you had a wonderful time away with your family and I enjoyed seeing the photos from your trip.
Aren't Alpacas such sweet gentle animals. Also love the purple plant - do you know what it is called.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend

Hilary said...

What an absolutely beautiful spot.. so much to see and do and enjoy. And share. I thank you for that.

bayou said...

Hello Vagabonde, I loved your diverted trip and would have done the same, love country fairs. The plants look like annual salvias to me but never saw such gorgeous colours. I would have enough space and time for Alpacas... worth a thought, my remaining horse is so lonely. But then I would be tempted to use their wool and then I should knit again.... so much one could do but the winter will not be long enough I fear. Loved the longhorns, btw. Lovely pictures, must be great in Georgia.

Magic Love Crow said...

Great post! Gorgeous area! I don't know what kind of plant that is, but it's really pretty! Hugs ;o)

Inger said...

Beautiful country. I know by now how much you like history and these places certainly have a lot to tell. I love that Show Barn, what a beautiful structure.

Shammickite said...

Ah... fall fairs, lovely. So many around here, but the biggest is the Markham Fair, just 10 minutes down the road from here. Prize animals, big veggies, a midway, all the fun of the fair.
Lovely pictures, I love the countryside.

Al said...

It looks like a beautiful area - I'd love to visit that part of the country.

claude said...

Une belle visite, semble-t-il.
Je repasse demain pour lire en détail.

claude said...

Me revoilà !
Ton petit fils de trois ans est craquant.
Ce genre de foire ici s'appelle un comice agricole.
Quelle belle région ! Il eut été dommage que des promoteurs s'en emparent.
Ils ont une bonne tête les alpagas.
Moi, si j'avais eu du terrain, j'aurais bien pris un âne.
Je n'arrive pas à identifier ta plante à fleurs bleues.
Une année, nous avons rapporté une plante de Guadeloupe, elles avait deux petites feuilles, maintenant elle arrive presque au plafond.
Merci pour cette belle balade.

EG CameraGirl said...

So much to see and do there!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Looks amazing - and how wonderful the grandchildren are learning Chinese - makes so much sense.

Love the scenery ... cheers Hilary

Carola Bartz said...

There is this old time feeling about those country fairs. We have one here that celebrates a special apple that is grown here, and it's an old fashioned small town fair, really lovely. Unfortunately we don't have cows like Maggie who really cracked me up! The white barn is beautiful, I probably would have taken tons of photos of it.
The purple flower looks lovely, however, I don't know what it is called.

Down by the sea said...

It is always wonderful to see areas of America that you don't usually see from this side of the Altantic. It looks so green and it is good to see that the old buildings have been saved. I love the pictures of your husband and grandson capturing their interaction. Sarah x

Pat said...

How lucky you are. A super trip in lovely countryside and grand children to play with and two nice young ladies to help.
I think the flower could be a salvia.
Love all those names - reminds me of when I was a girl and used to sing:

Pardon me bo,
Is that the Chatanooga Choo choo?
Track 29,
Or you can give me a shine.
I can afford,
To board the Chatanooga Choo
I've got my fare,
And just a trifle to spare.
You leave the Pennsylvanis Station at a quarter to four,
Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore.
Dinner on the diner,
Nothing could be finer,
Than to have your ham and eggs in Carolina. etc etc etc

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