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A tradition as old as dirt
Pottery museum gives you a history lesson among its wares
The Folk Pottery Museum at the Sautee Nacoochee Center is a new building hold hundreds of years worth of history. Admission is relatively cheap and there is plenty to see and do.

Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Ga. 255 N, four miles south of Helen
Admission: $5 adults, $4 seniors, $2 children
More info: 706-878-3300, ext. 307

Other family destinations

Babyland General Hospital, Cleveland. Birthplace of the Cabbage Patch Kids. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, 73 W. Underwood St., Cleveland. Free. 706-865-2171.

Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo, Dahlonega. More than 125 animal species. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, 469 Old Dahlonega Highway, Dahlonega. $10 adults, $5 children age 11 and younger. 706-864-9411.

Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, Gainesville. Workshops, classes and home school, foster family, Girl Scout, Boy Scout and Cub Scout days. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays, Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, 999 Chestnut St., Gainesville. $8 adults and children age 2 and older; $6 on Sundays; free for children younger than 2. 770-536-1900.

Kangaroo Conservation Center, Dawsonville. See kangaroos and other Australian animals. RSVP for tours recommended. Kangaroo Conservation Center, 222 Bailey Waters Road, Dawsonville. Ticket prices begin at $18. 706-265-6100.

Northeast Georgia History Center, Gainesville. Exhibits that highlight the history of Northeast Georgia, including the Land of Promise, Adventures of Mark Trail, Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Cherokee Chief White Path’s Cabin, Folk Pottery and An American Freedom Garden. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturdays, Northeast Georgia History Center, 322 Academy St., Gainesville. $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 students, members and children age 4 and younger free. 770-297-5900.

SAUTEE — The walk up to the Folk Pottery Museum at the Sautee Nacoochee Center is a bit misleading.

The walkway has an updated, almost industrial feel with a wall of windows and airy, open foyer.

The newness of the building contrasts with the stories it tells inside, documenting hundreds of years of pottery-making in the area.

When you enter the museum, you have two choices — you can turn right and walk through a display of pictures, stories and up-close exhibits explaining the history of pottery in the area. To the left you walk through, literally, a history of pots, ranging from the strictly utilitarian to more contemporary face jugs and decorative pieces.

If you’re here for the first time, turn right. That way you can learn about the Meaders family and the groundwork they laid for future potters in the area. The family is still around, too, making pottery the old-fashioned way, which is what makes this exhibit even more entertaining.

Walking through the exhibit, you realize how much of the art of pottery making is left to chance — what color the glaze will be, what piece will survive the firing process — and just how much the Meaders and other early potters had to make by hand. Even glazes, which you don’t really think about if you’re painting a piece at a make-your-own pottery shop, need to be created from scratch.

A video inside a recreated kiln, created for the Smithsonian, also helps explain the history of pottery and the Meaders family.

Once you’ve learned about the process of making pottery, turn and head through the history of pots at the other end of the museum.

The winding hallway starts with the very early, utilitarian pots that were used for pickling and holding families’ food through the winter months. By the time you come to the end, you’ve passed families of face jugs and intricately painted pieces that simply sit on a shelf and look pretty.

When you’ve finished your tour, you can check out the art galleries, the playground and the log.