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Ellijay, GA
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Apple Arts, Cherry Log Festival this weekend

Homemade canned goods at the Cherry Log Festival, above, and homegrown Ellijay apples at Apple Arts on the Square, below, will be among the attractions at the fall events taking place the next two weekends. Above, Cherry Log vendors Wayne Johnson and Jerry Norton help two loyal customers last weekend. (Contributed photo, photo by Whitney Crouch)

by Michael Andrews

As the Georgia Apple Festival makes its 44th consecutive stand, two other local fall events — Apple Arts on Square and the Cherry Log Festival — will offer arts, crafts, food and more the same two weekends.

Apple Arts will mark its 11th year of bringing a community-oriented fall festival back to downtown Ellijay Saturday, Oct. 10, and Sunday, Oct. 11. The arts and crafts fest will continue along Broad Street Saturday, Oct. 17, and Sunday, Oct. 18. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all four days.

A host of local vendors and new ones who come aboard each year have helped make the Chamber of Commerce-presented event a well-attended, less hectic alternative to the Apple Festival.

“We anticipate around 60 vendors (this year),” said Albert O’Shields, one of the festival’s planners. “Moo Bear’s Ice Cream will have a little trailer this year and we’re excited about having them. The Red Apple Barn will be out there selling apples and (other items).”

Several artists from Gilmer and the north Georgia area will be selling their works.

“We have some really great artists that people come back for. A lot of them have several new items each year,” said O’Shields. “Jan Dappen, for example, is one of our artists who does a lot of paintings of local scenes. She paints a lot of the old churches and scenes that people will know just what they are when they see them.”

Award-winning Georgia band Lonesome Road Bluegrass is scheduled to perform at the festival Oct 17 and 18.

“People like that (this is a smaller event) and that we have a lot of parking in the courthouse and Dalton State College parking lots,” added O’Shields, who will be manning his popular boiled peanut booth at the event.

Less than 10 miles up Highway 515, the Cherry Log Festival will enter its second weekend this Saturday and Sunday. It will conclude the following weekend, Oct. 17-18.

The longest-running of all Gilmer’s fall festivals, the rustic, down-home event will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekend. Attendees are welcome to show up early for breakfast.

“They will start breakfast at 7 a.m. and serve it until about 10:30 or 11,” said Cherry Log Community Action Group President Linda Goble.

The town’s community action group presents the festival each year. Proceeds from it are put back into the group’s coffers and used to provide numerous outreach services.

“We pay power and gas bills for (people in need). We also do fruit baskets for the elderly and buy presents for kids at Christmas. All the money stays here (in Cherry Log),” confirmed Goble.

A home-cooked lunch is one of the event’s most biggest draws — especially the fried chicken plates served on Sundays.

“The fried chicken is very popular and we’ll be serving it each Sunday. We had them standing past the door this past Sunday. They’ll be serving lunch until it runs out,” said Goble.

Festivalgoers can buy a $1 chance to win a handmade quilt that will be raffled off and plenty of homemade treats will be available at the event’s canned food booth. All pressure-canned foods — pickles, jams and jellies sour kraut, chow-chow, and pickled okra among them — are prepared by members of the community action group.

“We have a lot of the older folks who are getting to where they can’t do much (canning) anymore, but some of them have been very helpful in showing us what needs to be done,” said Goble. “We all get together (at the clubhouse) and spend a lot of time canning, usually after everybody gets off work. We chop the cabbage for the kraut, make the Brunswick stew and gather up and break the string beans. It’s like a big family.”

Persistant rain may have kept attendance down during the festival’s opening weekend, but the next two will provide opportunities for new and returning festival patrons to spend the day in Cherry Log.

“We have a lot of new (attendees) every year that didn’t know anything about it before and it’s their first time there,” said Goble. “(Attendance) was down a little on Saturday because of the weather, but on Sunday that fried chicken business had them lining up in the clubhouse and out the door.”
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