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Column: A trip to the mountains good for the ears, the appetite and the economy
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

There are several points in Gainesville where you can see the foothills of the mountains. On a clear day, it is a beautiful sight.

We are fortunate to live in an area where the lake, the mountains and the city are within a decent drive.

Tourism is big business, especially in the mountains. In 2020, the tourism business nearly dried up in places that are normally filled with visitors. Some businesses did not survive.

Hilda Thomason has been running the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee for a long time. They started making a comeback last year and are off to a good start this year.

The concerts at the music hall are mostly groups from a few years back. The rock acts are from the classic rock era, and the country shows are pure country. In August, they will host the Georgia Mountain Fair and then the Fall Festival in October.

This year, they are adding a new touch. From 6-9 p.m. every Thursday, they will have what they are calling Acoustic Sunsets. The concerts will take place in the fairgrounds' beautiful Hamilton Gardens. There is no admission, but you can help with a little contribution. You'll need to bring your own chair or blanket..

I think it sounds fun. Country, bluegrass and Americana music will be featured with a different act each week. It starts on the last Thursday in June and continues through the last Thursday in July.

The notion of listening to good music while watching the sun go down over the mountains would be a pleasure. It is not that many miles from here, but the winding roads in the mountain take a little more time. I would allow an hour and a half to get there. 

While there will be food and beverages on the site, let me suggest a side trip to the Soda Fountain in Cleveland. Located on Ga. Highway 115, a short distance off the town square, the cafe has some unique variations on the hamburger — including the Georgia Burger, which is topped with a grilled peach, Vidalia onion and a bourbon glaze. I'm usually just a mustard and ketchup type, but this is something not to miss. They also serve a variety of hand-dipped milkshakes.

We are fortunate to have good businesses that offer something to make a trip to the mountains memorable. We need to support our hardworking folks who have invested their lives and livelihood to contribute to our state's economy.

Wonderful food with music to match sounds like a good way to me.


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly.