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5 family-friendly things to do in October

Cooler weather, ripe pumpkins, and scary costumes are just a few things that describe the month of October. Enjoy these things and more next month with these 5 family-friendly activities in Watkinsville and Oconee County, Georgia.

Cinema & S’mores at Rocket Field

Oconee State Bank will sponsor October’s First Friday on Main with a movie and s’mores on the lawn of Rocket Field in Downtown Watkinsville. The Disney animated film Moana will be screened at dusk. Other First Friday activities will include popcorn, tractor rides, and inflatables along Main Street. Be sure to stop by the numerous stores and restaurants in the downtown area before the movie starts!

Pumpkin picking at Washington Farms

Pumpkin Picking at Washington Farms

There’s no fall fun like Washington Farms. Photo by Gary Kufner.

Washington Farms opens September 23 until October 29 for pumpkin picking. The farm also features a corn maze, a sunflower field, wagon rides, and more. At night, tackle the corn maze with flashlights and enjoy fire-roasted marshmallows.

Oconee Chamber Fall Festival

Fall Festival in Downtown Watkinsville, Georgia

The Oconee Chamber Fall Festival draws thousands to Downtown Watkinsville for handcrafted art, kettle corn, funnel cakes, and more!

The Oconee Chamber Fall Festival is the area’s premier arts and crafts festival. The event, held in Downtown Watkinsville, brings out art and food vendors from across the region. Fall Festival also features a kids zone with a petting zoo and inflatables making the event the perfect family outing.

Haunted Hay Ride at the Classic City Clydesdales Farm

Classic City Clydesdales Farm in Bishop, GA

Get spooked at the Classic City Clydesdales Farm in Bishop. Photo courtesy of the Classic City Clydesdales on Facebook.

What’s October without Halloween? Get spooked at the Classic City Clydesdales Farm’s Purgatory Park in Bishop, Georgia. If you’re brave, tackle the 20-minute haunted hay ride with appearances by zombies, werewolves, and more creepy creatures. The trail ride is set to open on the following dates near 8 p.m.: October 20 – 21, October 27 – 28, and October 30 – 31. The farm will also host a special family night on October 22 with trick-or-treating for kids under 12.

Trick or Treat in Downtown Watkinsville

Trick or Treating in Downtown Watkinsville, Georgia.

Families fill Downtown Watkinsville for Trick or Treat on Main

There’s no such thing as too much candy during Halloween! Grab your costumes and Halloween buckets for more trick-or-treating in Downtown Watkinsville. From Town Center to the Eagle Tavern Museum, businesses will give away Halloween candy to kids and families. Pull out your best costume to scare your neighbors!

Enjoy these activities and more throughout the month of October. For a list of events in Watkinsville and Oconee County, view our event calendar.

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5 places to tour art studios

Known as the Artland of Georgia, Watkinsville-Oconee County boasts many art adventures. From public art exhibitions to premier art events, Watkinsville is home to some of the finest pieces of art by some of the most talented artists in the state and country. During your art excursion through Watkinsville, Georgia, take a moment to see local artists at work by touring art studios and witnessing art demonstrations in pottery-making and glass-blowing.

Happy Valley Pottery

Artist Loretta Eby performing a glass-blowing demonstrations.

Veteran artists Jerry and Kathy Chappelle transformed an old chicken house into artists studios to create one of the most unique art attractions in the area. Tour multiple studios highlighting various art forms at this quirky art spot. At Happy Valley Pottery, visitors can see pottery demonstrations, as well as glass blowing and raku firing by other local artists like Loretta Eby. After witnessing these fascinating art demonstrations, guests can purchase the work of the artists on site.

Address: 1210 Carson-Graves Road, Watkinsville, GA 30677

Winterhawk Pottery

Inside WinterHawk Pottery’s art studio. Photo provided by WinterHawk Pottery.

The pottery work of Winterhawk Pottery artist John Winterhawk is inspired by Native American artwork found in Southeastern burials ad temple mounds built by Mississippian Mound Builders. In the showroom of this pottery studio, visitors will find these intricate designs, as well as nature-inspired designs. To complement their pottery creations, Winterhawk Pottery’s showroom also includes casual furnishings, accessories, and gifts in what is called Winterhawk Home.

Address: 8801 Macon Highway #5, Athens, GA 30606

321 Pottery

Matt Powelson shows off his intricate designs in his studio, 321 Pottery.

321 Pottery is the pottery studio of local artist and attorney Matt Powelson. Inspired by his experiences and journeys as an overlander, his work includes functional, production pottery inspired by a mix of western landscapes, nature, modern architecture, and industrial design, which are revealed in the style, shape, surface, decoration, and color of his work. Trained by Kathy and Jerry Chappelle, Matt previously created his pieces at Happy Valley Pottery before opening 321 pottery.

Address: 2980 Greensboro Highway, Watkinsville, GA 30677

Alice Woodruff Pottery

Photo provided by Alice Woodruff Pottery.

Artist Alice Woodruff‘s studio is located right on South Main Street in Watkinsville. She has 45 years of experience in pottery-making, and works in high-fired porcelain and stoneware. Alice was a production potter for 24 years, but now focuses on more unique, hand-thrown pots. You can also see Alice at work teaching classes at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation.

 Address: 35 South Main Street, Watkinsville, GA 30677

The Greenbriar

Using custom clay and glaze formulas, artist Steven Nedza specializes in functional pottery. The pottery pieces include mugs, bowls, pots and other functional pieces with intricate and detailed designs.

Address: 4240 Colham Ferry Road., Watkinsville, GA 30677

You can see work from Happy Valley Pottery, 321 Pottery, and Alice Woodruff at the 15th Annual PERSPECTIVES: Georgia Pottery Invitational hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in Watkinsville, Georgia.

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4 Facts about Elder Mill Covered Bridge

The Elder Mill Covered Bridge is one of 13 functioning covered bridges left in Georgia.

Oconee County’s Elder Mill Covered Bridge is one of Georgia’s 13 covered bridges that carries traffic. The bridge is a popular attraction in Watkinsville, and is the only covered bridge featured along Georgia’s Antebellum Trail. Check out these four facts about the bridge, including some of the notable people who influenced the bridge.

1. The bridge once connected Watkinsville and Athens

Before its move to Elder Road off of Highway 15 in 1924, the Elder Mill Covered Bridge connected Watkinsville and Athens-Clarke County. The two neighboring cities share a long history, as Watkinsville initially served as the county seat of Clarke County before the founding of Oconee County in 1875. Watkinsville is only a stone’s throw from Athens, with Clarke and Oconee sharing the city of Bogart and some parts of Athens existing within the county lines of Oconee.

 

Once connecting Athens and Watkinsville above Calls Creek, the bridge now sits above Rose Creek.

2. Its structure is known as Town’s Lattice Truss

Most of America’s covered bridges were built between 1825 and 1875. The maker of the Elder Mill Covered Bridge, Nathaniel Richardson, built the bridge in 1897 using Town’s lattice truss form, which was patented by architect Ithiel Town in 1820 and 1835. The structure utilizes a large number of smaller planks for easy labor. The Elder Mill Covered Bridge is one of the few covered bridges in the state that carries traffic without the additional support of steel beams.

 

The bridge was built in 1897 by Nathaniel Richardson using Town’s lattice truss structure.

3. The bridge was saved with funds granted by former U.S. President and Georgia Governor, Jimmy Carter

In 1974, the bridge endured termite damage and was deemed unsafe for traffic. An Oconee resident who oversaw much of the upkeep and traffic of the bridge reached out to former President Jimmy Carter, Georgia’s governor at the time, and received $2,500 to repair the bridge. Three years later, President Carter began his presidential term, serving until 1981.

 

The Elder Mill Covered Bridge provided access to the Elder family’s mill in 1924.

4. It’s named after the family of David Elder, soldier in the Revolutionary War

David Elder, born in Brunswick County, Virginia, arrived in Oconee County after his military service during the Revolutionary War granted him land in Oconee County. Descendants of the family have lived in Oconee County for more than 200 years, long after his death in 1853. After the bridge’s move from Calls Creek, the bridge provided access to the family’s mill—Elder Mill (hence the name of the bridge and road the bridge sits on). David Elder’s memorial stone can also be found along Highway 15 in the Elder Cemetery, approximately 2 miles from the covered bridge.

 

 Sources: Athens Banner-Herald & Georgia House Resolution 224

 

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Walking in Watkinsville

William Massey’s “Object of Wo(man)” along Main Street in Downtown Watkinsville

There is a lot to do on foot in Watkinsville. Park your car and explore public art, locally owned restaurants, and walking trails all within a 1-mile streak. Start at the Oconee County Welcome Center in Downtown Watkinsville, and pick up a map highlighting the area’s unique shops, historic sites, dining and parks.

 

Public Art

Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation Sculpture Garden

Known as the Artland of Georgia, the city of Watkinsville features two public art exhibitions in its downtown area. There are a total of 27 art sculptures and art panels as part of two exhibits: Public Art Watkinsville: A Pop-Up Sculpture Exhibit and Artscape Oconee: The Monuments of Artland. Many of the pieces are within walking distance of each other, and can be enjoyed while shopping and dining in the city. You can find a guide on this collaborative effort by the City of Watkinsville and the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF) in the welcome center. Also, stroll through OCAF’s on-site sculpture garden, a tranquil garden featuring sculptures in a variety of mediums.

Locally Owned Restaurants

Photo by Gary Kufner.

Within a 5-minute walk from the Welcome Center, you can enjoy a dozen locally owned restaurants specializing in baked goods, BBQ, steak, burgers, Mediterranean dishes and more. There is an endless option of dishes from local favorites like Kiki’s Bakeshop, JB’s Smokin’ Pig BBQ, Chops & Hops, The Traveling Hobo, and Girasoles. Keep your adventures outside and enjoy these restaurants’ outside dining patios, or dine-in to experience the ambiance of the dining establishments, which occasionally feature live music.

Walking Trails

Harris Shoals Park. Photo by JR Charles.

Watkinsville Woods is only a short walk off of Main Street, with six acres of greenspace. The wooded walking paths provide access to groves of native trees, a historic spring, and once-covered rock outcrop known as “Pulpit Rock.” Watkinsville is the only city in Georgia of its size with a walking park inside the city limits. Also less than a mile from Main Street is Harris Shoals Park, where visitors to the park can also enjoy a walking trail and picnic near the shoals of Calls Creek.

This post was first published on blog.exploregeorgia.org.

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A Weekend Guide to Perspectives, Georgia’s Premier Pottery Event

 

Georgia’s largest pottery showcase and sale is on the horizon! PERSPECTIVES: Georgia Pottery Invitational is a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF). The 20-day event in Watkinsville features pottery exhibits, demonstrations and studio tours. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 13, 2017,artists and art lovers will experience a showcase of 6,000 handmade, functional pieces by 50 Georgia potters. Here’s a weekend guide to Georgia’s premier pottery event of the year.

Where to Stay

Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast located in the heart of Downtown Watkinsville. Photo provided by Matt Brewster.

Just a short walk from OCAF is the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast. Listed as one of the top inns to stay in Georgia, the bed and breakfast provides an inviting and relaxing environment with a pool and beautiful garden. The Victorian-style manor also features themed rooms raved about by national and international guests.

For a traditional lodging experience, the award-winning Springhill Suites by Marriott Athens is located just a few short miles from OCAF with on-site and off-site gym and pool access. Book your room soon; the popular hotel fills fast!

What to Do

One of three exhibits at Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational.

Friday

On Friday, arrive at your hotel to view the three-part pottery exhibit and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. Items will include mugs, cooking dishes, tea pots, large pots and much more. The Opening Gala will take place on Aug. 25 at Rocket Hall. Enjoy refreshments and live jazz music performed by local band Period Six. The opening reception is an exclusive opportunity to view and purchase pottery before the exhibits are open to the public.

Saturday

After a full breakfast complimentary of your stay, head over to the Rocket Hall Courtyard, where potters will perform pottery demonstrations focused on wheel throwing and hand building techniques. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26-27, renowned artist Naoki Izumi will lead a workshop on the methods and secrets of Echizen pottery, one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan.

Dining at Chops & Hops in Downtown Watkinsville.

In your free time, enjoy shopping in Historic Downtown Watkinsville with unique shops that feature art galleries, clothes and accessories, home and garden décor, antiques and more. You can also explore popular lunch options in the area like unique burgers at The Traveling Hobo Café, ribs at JB’s Smokin’ Barbeque and a classic BBQ sandwich at Hot Thomas BBQ. End the night with dinner at Chops & Hops, an unforgettable fine dining experience. For more dining options, visit visitoconee.com/dining.

Sunday

Wake up to Sunday brunch at Girasoles with Mexican-Mediterranean fused dishes crafted by Chef Zambrano. On Sept. 3 and Sept. 10, well-known Georgia potter Michael Pitts will host Gallery Talks with discussions on pottery styles, clays, glazes and firing techniques.

The Elder Mill Covered Bridge built in 1897.

Finally, a serene view and a classic photo at the Elder Mill Covered Bridge is the perfect way to end your trip before traveling home.

For more information on Perspectives, visit visitoconee.com/perspectives.

This post was first published on blog.exploregeorgia.org.

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Oconee County: Then and Now

The historic community of Oconee County has undergone quite a few transformations while maintaining some of its historic beauty. Take a glimpse of what six historic sites in Oconee County looked like in the past:

 

 

Left photo courtesy of Oconee Historical Society on Facebook.

The Eagle Tavern Museum formerly served as a 16-room stagecoach stop for travelers in the mid-1800s. The building, which was built circa 1801, now serves as a house museum in its original Plain-style structure. The right picture shows the Eagle Tavern in the mid-1900s before the building’s restoration. Today, you can visit the Tavern and stand on its original flooring which is more than 200-years-old!

 

 

Left photo courtesy of Oconee Historical Society on Facebook.

The Oconee County Courthouse has always sat directly across from the Eagle Tavern in some form along Main Street in Downtown Watkinsville. The county has had four courthouses since its founding in 1875. The structure to the left was built in 1887; the current structure was built in 1939.

 

 

Left photo courtesy of Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast.

Also located along Main Street in Watkinsville is the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast. The manor was the home of William and Louisa Booth Ashford and their family in the mid-1800s. However, the original home is no longer standing. The now standing Ashford Manor was built in 1893 by the couple’s son, A.W. Ashford. The picture to the left was taken in the 1920s. The Victorian-style manor now serves as a bed and breakfast surrounded by beautiful gardens.

 

 

The history of Downtown Watkinsville continues to live on along Main Street. Pictured to the left is the Ashford Store. Built before 1900, this building is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Watkinsville. The building now houses Orchard Street Boutique and neighbors Spectrum Metals and Main Street Barbershop.

 

 

To the left is Main Street in Bishop, GA circa 1918. Downtown Bishop is located along Highway 441, connecting Watkinsville and Madison. Once a post office, the building shown is now home to one of the many antique stores in Bishop, Tracks of Time Antiques.

 

 

To the left is Main Street in Bogart at the turn of the 20th century. The street runs parallel to the railroad, where a few structures in the shown area still stand today occupied by small businesses.

 

Be sure to visit these sites during your trip to Oconee County. For more information or assistance with planning your trip, contact us.

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A Guide to Elder Mill Covered Bridge

 

 

Breathtaking only minimally describes the view of Watkinsville’s Elder Mill Covered Bridge. The bridge, which was built in 1897, was originally positioned between Watkinsville and Athens. It now sits boldly above Rose Creek just five miles from downtown Watkinsville off of Hwy 15 on Elder Mill Rd. A Georgia Antebellum Trail attraction, the bridge is popular among visitors and residents of Oconee County who often stop by to capture amazing pictures. Here are a few tips to consider before your visit:

Tip 1: Drive an average-sized vehicle. The bridge is restrictive to oversized vehicles.

Tip 2: Bring a camera. Visiting the Bridge is a must-capture moment and great for family photos.

Tip 3: Wear tennis shoes. Wear hiking-appropriate shoes to get a closer view of Rose Creek.

Tip 4: Prepare for BBQ. Watkinsville’s popular restaurant, Hot Thomas BBQ, is less than 5 minutes away.

Tip 5: Take in the moment. The calming sounds of Rose Creek and the isolated scenic view are unmatched.

 

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Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas: Holiday Happenings

‘Tis the season for holiday lights, shopping and events! Get in the spirit in Watkinsville and celebrate the holiday season with events, sales, and holiday displays.

 

EVENTS

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Watkinsville’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting is a prime event for the season. On the first Friday in December, spectators gather along Main Street for holiday carols, hot chocolate, cookies, and the lighting of the holiday tree in Downtown Watkinsville.

The next day, December 3, the city and the Oconee Enterprise will host its annual Watkinsville Christmas Parade at 11 a.m. The parade travels throughout Downtown Watkinsville and features extravagant floats, bands, and local organizations.

Next up is Mingle with Kringle, a popular Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF) tradition for children. The event will take place on December 10, and includes storytelling, photos with Kringle, arts and crafts, and a puppet show. This year’s event will also feature a theatrical performance by Doug Berkey.

What’s December without a holiday musical? Brightstone Productions will present Christmas at the Five and Dime at the Oconee County Civic Center December 15-18. The performance is set in the 1940s in a large department store.

 

DISPLAYS

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In addition to the the many events in town are also holiday displays. The rare and historic Elder Mill Covered Bridge, which sits above Rose Creek, will be decorated in colorful holiday lights throughout the season.

Also, the Eagle Tavern Museum, once a stagecoach stop, will be decorated in period-themed holiday décor and live greenery as visitors explore the life of travelers in the 1800s. The Eagle Tavern Museum will have a special opening after the Christmas Parade and a Holiday Open House in December.

The Oconee County Welcome Center is also a popular stop during the holidays with a grand window display of a Dickens Village.

 

SHOPPING

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Photo courtesy of Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF).

Happy Valley Pottery will host its Holiday Open House & Sale November 25-27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The holiday open house and sale will include art demonstrations in raku and glassblowing, and will feature pottery, paintings, jewelry, candles, and bath products for sale.

At the OCAF Holiday Market, shop for more unique gifts for friends and family. The three-day event will showcase and sell paintings, jewelry, sculptures, folk art, photography, clay, food, soaps, and more! The market will also feature OCAF’s Artists’ Shoppe, which will be available from December 2 – 23. The Artist Shoppe sells the handcrafted work of OCAF members.

Take on these events and more with a stay at the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast, a Victorian-style manor built in the 1930s. For more on holiday shopping and happenings in Watkinsville, follow Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas holiday series on Facebook.