Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Apple Festival in Ellijay

Last week-end was a perfect autumn day. It was in the mid 70's (24 C) with low humidity and a slight wind. On Sunday we decided to drive to the North Georgia Mountains as it was the last day of the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay. The day was so perfect that I decided to switch my topic and publish a post on this gorgeous day immediately – I’ll have another New York post next week. Ellijay - population approx. 1600 - the county seat of Gilmer County is about 58 miles north of our house and 25 miles south of the North Carolina state line. (click on pictures and collages to enlarge, then click again on each picture.)

Ellijay is known as the “Apple Capital of Georgia.” This year was the 40th anniversary of the festival. There were more than 300 vendors in a large field with handmade crafts, food booths and apples of course. A big (half) inflated cruise ship called “The Titanic Ride” had a long line of children waiting to go up on its deck. Then they would slide down with peals of laughter.

A gated area was reserved for animal rides – not ponies, but camels (yes, in North Georgia!)

A little girl was watching them intently. As soon as they would walk by her she jumped up and down and giggled.

The camels just walked slowly by, then would go for some food and a rest.

North Georgia chainsaw artist, Mal McEwen (who said his family roots in the area dates back to 1746) was demonstrating how he worked with his chainsaw. We looked for a while.

Here are some of his carvings -

My husband especially liked and admired ducks and Canada Geese carved and exhibited by a wood sculptor.

Then we went towards some bluegrass music we could hear close by. A group of “cloggers” were enthusiastically dancing on the stage.

Wikipedia says: “Clogging is a type of folk dance with roots in traditional European dancing, early African-American dance, and traditional Cherokee dance in which the dancer's footwear is used musically by striking the heel, the toe, or both in unison against a floor or each other to create audible percussive rhythms. Clogging was a social dance in the Appalachian Mountains as early as the 18th century.“ It is fun to watch. There was also a good variety of apples for sale.

It was still early afternoon so we decided to take a ride to the mountains. We were in Ellijay last June, but it was on a sad occasion. One of my co-workers, Woody, retired the same month as I did (January 1, 2008.) He had worked in our company for over 30 years. He and his wife lived in Ellijay. They attended their 50th high school reunion there on Memorial Day week-end. A former classmate flew from Ohio in his single-engine aircraft, a white Beechcraft 35 “Bonanza.” As a door prize at the reunion he offered a sightseeing flight over the mountains. My friend Woody, his wife and another friend won the door prize. The plane took off but did not come back. They found the wreckage in the Rich Mountain Wilderness Area, 3 days later, as there are no roads going into it. We went to the funeral in Ellijay. Below is a picture showing part of this extremely rugged and remote area of Gilmer County.

Last Sunday, before driving to the mountains we drove through the center of town. As we drove by my husband saw a booth with old books for sale, so we stopped.

The town was celebrating “Apple Arts on the Square.”

We tasted some of the apples and I bought some home-made root beer in a blue bottle, which I kept.

Many pumpkins were displayed ready for the upcoming Halloween celebration.

From the Square we took State Route 52 going toward Fort Mountain State Park. This is a scenic drive through the Appalachian Mountains. The Cherokee originally lived in these mountains and called them Sah-ka-na'-ga - "The Great Blue Hills of God."

The Cherokee people were indigenous to this North Georgia area. For a while, both white settlers and Indians occupied Ellijay. After the forced removal of the Cherokees (see my post on this here) in 1838 most of the mountain land was awarded to white settlers in 40 to 160-acre tracts. The rest was left forested. These forests inspired a national forest movement seeking to preserve them. One of the first acquisitions of the United States was Georgia mountain land which later became the Chattahoochee National Forest - 750,000 acres (3,000 km2.) We stopped at a trail-head where a kiosk gives information on the area.

There was a look-out there with mountain views and beautiful red foliage in the foreground.

At first the road raises gradually, but then there are dramatic climbs and sharp curves. We stopped again at a pull-off on the road and walked on a small trail. Rocks had been placed to use as stairs and then we arrived at the top of a hill. The hike was certainly worthwhile.

Then I rested on a small wall in the shade.

The wall was made of large pieces of slate.

I walked around to the other side of the hill, which receives more sun. The foliage was more advanced and golden.

We walked down the trail to our car.

After we drove up hill for more than a thousand feet we arrived at the entrance of Fort Mountain State Park. It is a large park - 3,712 acre (15.02 km²) - with a lake (which we did not find) picnic areas, camping, trails, and streams. We drove inside the park and parked close to a trail head leading to an overlook. Time to hike up another trail…

At first the trail was nice and smooth

but then huge rocks appeared on the mountains and small ones on the trail too. With my bad knees I was walking slowly, but kept going expecting a beautiful view.

When we saw some stairs we knew we were getting close

Arriving at the top of the stairs and onto the platform felt like being in an airplane and looking down.

This was breathtaking scenery to be sure. We could see lakes and little houses below, as well as roads.

Looking to the right or to the left, the view was stunning.

My photos do not do justice to the raw beauty that is there. To be at the top of this mountain is such an experience, it is spectacular. You feel like a bird looking down.

On the way back home we stopped at a roadside orchard. There were many delicious looking items for sale in addition to the fresh crop of apples.

We reached home as the sun was setting. We were too tired to eat our “fried apple pies.” Next morning though I took a picture of the pies then went outside to take a picture of the two kinds of apples we bought – the Cameo and the Pink Lady. I did buy a mystery at the Ellijay book sale – just for its title “Red Delicious Death.”

It was a pleasure taking these photos outside near our “forest” of a garden. It has been so warm that our azalea bush is blooming again. The flowers in the planters are still showing color and a lovely rose just opened. The leaves of our hardwood trees are gradually getting more golden – autumn shows the beauty of nature so well.

As I eat an apple near my computer I can watch the yellowing leaves from the window.


livininlb said...

What a beautiful post. I really appreciate how much you savor life!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

What a GREAT Post, my dear....You live in a Beautiful State---and I love that you and your husband take advantage and enjoy so very much that goes on in your area...!
LOVE LOVE LOVE the pictures of the CAmels....And the Wood Sculptures---PLUS all the Apples....YUM!
The Trails where you walked were beautiful and the Views, stunning....I can see why your knees gor such a workout....!
I very much enjoyed going on this special "outing" with you....!

Pondside said...

From New York City to Ellijay - quite a leap! I like the look of all the weird and wonderful activities - camel and inflated cruise ship are pretty weird! The view from the mountain was incredible and made me wish for the opportunity to take a holiday in that part of the world.
I have to tell you, though, that I am very, very envious of your meeting with Frances, who I've 'known' for nearly five years and would dearly love to meet!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

We drove through Elljay a couple of weeks ago and it is indeed apple country. We live north of there in North Carolina.

You've captured it beautifully. I am so sorry about your friend Woody. What a sad thing to happen. We hear about quite a few planes going down in our area. Clouds and fog can roll in quickly.

Ruth said...

I can see how your breath would be swept away by those vistas, similar to some valleys in France. There is a lot of joy and fun in this post, and beauty, along with much pain, of the Cherokees, and your friend Woody.

Autumn in the South must be especially pleasant after the intense heat of summer. Even here it was very hot in July, and now the coolness is welcome.

Thérèse said...

What beautiful sights!
The autumn colors are everywhere on this post to admire. Perfect for the season and for us living in Chandler where we can't grow any apple tree or we can grow them but they would not give any apple because of the absence of deep cold during winter.

DJan said...

Pink ladies are some of my favorite apples. Here in Washington state, I am amazed at the abundance, I didn't realize that Georgia had so much. A wonderful post filled with interesting things. Glad to hear you're hiking a bit and hopefully without any pain in your knees.

wenn said...

great shots..I love apples!

Susie Swanson said...

I love that place and thanks for sharing it. I didn't get to go this year. I live North of it too, in North Carolina.

Olga said...

Beautiful views from your trip - they will linger before my eyes when I go to bed :)

Frances said...

Vagabonde, I would love to have gone with you all to the apple festival in Ellijay.

Bravo to your for all that hiking, too!

Knowing all the parts of the world that you know, I really love the way that you continue to explore areas nearer to your current home. The natural beauty is so evident in your photos.

I also liked reading about the music and dancing, and think you'll remember my telling you about my musical brother and blue grass music.

Those apples look a perfect signal of autumn, but any morning's breakfast that includes your delicious fig jam is a delicious reminder of meeting you all.

Thank you again. xo

this is Belgium said...

Enjoyed your post on Northern GA and the previous one about NY. Always loaded with information and wonderful pictures.

BJM said...

Ah, takes me back to my youth in the Okanagan (British Columbia).

bright girl said...

I went last week! We had a fun time and enjoyed the weather, although it was a bit warm on the day we visited the Apple Festival. Gearing up for fall!!

Vicki Lane said...

Ah, you were just on the edge of God's Own Country!

I can almost smell the fresh apples! Lovely post!

Anonymous said...

I would keep that blue bottle. It is probably already valuable.

FilipBlog said...

Nice articles and collages.Looks like you had a lot of fun.


claude said...

Bonjour Vagabonde.
D'après ce que je vois, cela a certainement été une belle fête.
Je sais que les chevaux aiment les pommes, sais-tu si les chameaux aussi. En fait de chameaux, ce sont des dromadaires. Tu connais l'histoire du dromadaire qui rencontre un chameau.
Le dromadaire dit au chameau : "alors, ça bosses ?"
et le chameau lui répond : ça bosse, ça bosse !"
Je ne peux pas manger de pommes crues, cela me colle mal à l'estomac.
Il y a beaucoup d'arboriculteurs dans le coin. Il paraît qu'il y a pas loin d'une vingtaine de traitements sur une golden.
A plussss !

Dianne said...

I love the little girl!!

autumn is a wonderful time of year

beautiful shots

Darlene said...

I would love to comment on all of the beautiful photos you took, but because of time restrictions I will just make one observation.

I admire you for your courage in climbing all of those stairs with a bad knee. My poor knees ached just looking at them.

Friko said...

Even when you only go for a day out you pack in as much as others pack into a week.

We too have festivals to do with apples here in the countryside, although the real apple growing country is next door in Herefordshire, not Shropshire. There you can drive for miles through orchards.

Barb said...

A day trip packed with views and adventure. Your fall is just beginning while mine is already over in the mountains. Your "forest" garden looks quite beautiful.

Reader Wil said...

Merci de votre visite et commentaire! I appreciate your comments. Thanks for the tour in your country and the beautiful views overbthe valleys and from the mountains. That is what I miss in my country. Everything is so flat and wet! Have a nice Sunday.

Anonymous said...

J'apprécie beaucoup tes jolies photos qui reflètent une atmosphère et une ambiance bien différentes de ce que nous connaissons ici, en France, et plus particulièrement sur la Côte d'Azur.
Bon dimanche!

My name is Riet said...

What a beautiful day you had. There are so many things I loved on your photo's. I loved the wood carved Canada Geese. So beautiful and the sights in the mountains.Wow.
Have a great week.

sweffling said...

What a glorious post! I could almost smell the mountain air, the scent of apples and revel in the lovely autumn scenery. I have often heard of this part of your county but now I have some idea of its beauty: thank you so much for the vicarious pleasure:)

Al said...

That must have been a great day, wonderful shots!

Cropping dust from a photo isn't very hard, I use the GIMP photo editing program. But once I notice any dust spots in the photos I clean the camera sensor, using a foot-powered air pump, and if necessary, specially-bought wet sensor cleaners; I often change lenses in dusty environment so I've had to do this a couple of times. If you're not comfortable doing this then you'd need to take it to a repair shop, because if you scratch the sensor you can throw the camera away.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to your aching knees for climbing to the top to get those wonderful photos. You are braver than I. My knees would have said NO! and I would likely have listened, and missed that wonderful view. I had no idea that Georgia had apples, it is only peaches that I think of in your state. What a beautiful place and yummy-looking apples!

Miss_Yves said...

Que de surprises en lisant ce billet!
En somme, la Géorgie avec sa festival de la pomme, est une cousine très éloignée de notre Normandie!Mais je m'attendais à voir des vaches, et non des chameaux!
De belles couleurs...
La danse semble très originale.

Arti said...

What a magnificent post! You've confirmed my impression... as an 'outsider', this is America: everything in grand style, even for a town of just 1,600 population. Beautiful pictures that speak volumes ... the country life and all. "Fried apple pies"? That reminds me of the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes", is it the same State?

And the trail hike, what stunning views, both along the path and up at the top. Wow, everything is beautiful! Thanks for this detailed, step by step recap of your journey.

lorilaire said...

On a les mêmes fêtes en ce moment en France, ce week-end, fête de la citrouille pas loin de chez-moi, bientôt celle de la pomme, où je fais de grosses provisions !
J'ai beaucoup aimé les photos des sous-bois !

Ginnie Hart said...

Ohhhhh. We just went through Ellijay, Vagabonde...last Friday going up to Blue Ridge and then back down the mountain today. I can certainly vouch for the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains...and the apples! We didn't pick any this year but in years past, we have made the apple-picking one of our MUST past-times.

I love that you interrupted New York to show us this post!

Jeanie said...

This looks like the most fun day! I love apples, orchards, all the activities that go on at those types of festivals -- and of course, cooking with them isn't half bad either! My favorite shot is the collage of the pumpkins -- but those apples look good enough to eat!

Kay Dennison said...

I so love your sharing your adventures!!!!

Snowbrush said...

The red sumac leaves are beautiful--I miss them. I have cousins in Trenton, Georgia, but don't anticipate ever getting back that way. My Cherokee grandmother was from somewhere in the vicinity, but was orphaned, and brought up by white people on Sand Mountain over in Alabama. I also have a blog buddy (Rhymes with Plague) who lives in the area.

Marja said...

How gorgeous . One of my best friends is moving to Atlanta for half a year in a few weeks I will send her your blog So many beautiful places to go to I love the carvings and the little girl is so cute.

kyh said...

the views from the top are spectacular! :)

i usually dont like to eat apples, but i love apple pies and apple juice. (oh, and apple jams too!)

the little girl and the way u described her joy was soooo cute! :D

Dutchbaby said...

What a delicious post this is.

I'm with your husband, those carved ducks and geese are beautiful.

I have the same Fourth of July rose in my garden. It blooms profusely all summer long.

My husband loves apple desserts more than any other. It's too bad he has an August birthday because it is impossible to get great apples at that time of year. You've inspired me to make him a post-birthday pie this weekend.

bowsprite said...

Vagabonde, so sorry to hear about Woody, his wife and friends.

Incredible photos and adventures. Congratulations for making the long hike! it looks so beautiful. I would love to see this place one day! World traveller! how lovely to see more of the place where you have set roots.

(The verification word is 'livin'. Tis just what you do!)

snowwhite said...

Hello Vagabonde,
Your blog made me want to fly to Georgia to eat apples and drink beer! Apples and beer are my favorite. Your country is the middle of beautiful autumn. Here in Nara, I am enjoying high blue sky and transparent air.
I especially love the photos of autumn leaves.
I am very sorry to hear of your loss.

Best wishes,

Vagabonde said...

Thank you all for all the lovely comments above. I look forward to your visits and love to read what you have to say. Thanks again for commenting.

Merci à tous pour vos gentils commentaires ci-dessus. Je suis toujours contente de vous accueillir sur mon blog et j’aime lire ce que vous avez à dire. Merci encore.

Margaret said...

Red Delicious Death! Perfect day you had... We took a trip to Hanging Rock last weekend and I documented in on my "365" blog .... my 80 year old father in law led the pack, believe it or not. My mother in law almost made it but stopped just before the final incline (bad hips and knees) but not bad for 76! Your yard looks fantastic and I love the carpet of leaves. :)

TorAa said...

I see we have lot's more to discover in US.
You have tempted us by this post.

By the way, we will stay whole July 2012 in SW MI.

May we see you around then?

Kay said...

Absolutely gorgeous photos! I just loved being back in Illinois for fall. Happy Halloween!

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