There are only two weeks before it’s officially spring! With hints of warm weather this winter building our anticipation for sunny days and budding flowers, here are three things to look forward to this spring in Oconee County.

Locally-grown foods

 

 

Spring means strawberry season! Washington Farms will open for strawberry season in April. At the farm, pick your own strawberries and enjoy creamy, homemade strawberry ice cream from April to May. The U-Pick farm will also host Super Spring Saturdays April 22, April 29, May 6, and May 13. Bring your family to enjoy a petting zoo, wagon rides, and other fun activities on the farm.

 

Photo courtesy of onlineathens.com.

Hosted in Downtown Watkinsville, also visit the Oconee Farmers Market for Georgia grown items like green beans, nuts, free range eggs, grass-fed beef, berries, and more. The farmers market will host a soft opening April 1, and officially kickoff the season April 22. You can browse the market for a variety of produce each Saturday until November.

Art shows

Photo courtesy of Farmington Depot Gallery.

During the first weekend of April, witness the spontaneous creativity of local artists at theFarmington Depot Gallery. Once a train depot, the gallery will host its annual spring festival,Festifool, featuring an artist market, art cars, and raku demonstrations.

 

This spring, the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation will present its 22nd annual art exhibition,SOUTHWORKS. SOUTHWORKS is a premier art exhibit showcasing the talent and work of artists from across the country. Browse the galleries of OCAF between April 7 and May 5. A reception will be held April 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. to celebrate the opening of the show and the artists and pieces accepted into the juried exhibition.

New restaurant opening

 

Spring is also the season for the official and anticipated opening of Pour Restaurant & Bar. Located in Downtown Watkinsville next to the Eagle Tavern Museum, the upscale restaurant will offer beer, wine, and distilled spirits, as well as food, and will initially serve only dinner. Experience a new taste in Watkinsville-Oconee County with dinner indoors, or enjoy the spring weather and gourmet eats on the patio of Pour.

 

Take a trip to Oconee County this spring, and enjoy all the wonderful experiences in art, culinary, and outdoor fun the area has to offer. For more upcoming events, click here. For a full dining guide, click here.

Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas: Winter Weather Eats

Photo courtesy of Online Athens

The holidays are upon us and cold weather has officially set in, which means it’s the perfect time for winter treats, meals and beverages. Thankfully, in Watkinsville you don’t have to go very far to find delicious, perfectly wintery eats.

Kiki’s Bakeshop

What’s a holiday dinner without a warm, freshly baked dessert to finish off family meal? Luckily, Kiki’s Bakeshop has all the sweets you’ll need this winter. The local bakery is offering an exclusive holiday menu, featuring rum bundt cake, Christmas cookies and a yule log cake. All holiday orders need to be placed by 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 21, however Kiki’s will be offering holiday bread, scones and muffins as pickup items for those who miss the order deadline.

JB’s Smokin’ Pig

Photo courtesy of JB’s Smoking’ Pig

Whatever the time of year, barbecue is always a good choice for dinner. As the JB’s Smokin Pig is a new addition to downtown, this is the BBQ spot’s first holiday season in Watkinsville. Although the order period for holiday smoked hams and roasted turkeys has passed, the restaurant is celebrating it’s first Christmas by offering take-out meals until 2 p.m. on Dec. 24, posting on Facebook that, “Whether it’s sides, BBQ or both, we’d love to make your day less stressful.”

Krimson Kafe

Photo courtesy of Yelp

Although the Krimson Kafe’s official menu isn’t offering any holiday-specific options, the restaurant already caters perfectly to cold-weather dining. On a sub 40-degree day, almost nothing sounds better than a warm cup of homemade soup, or a “Wildabeast” sandwich, made with smoked turkey and gouda cheese.

Jittery Joe’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jittery Joe’s is short on food items, but on a cold winter morning coffee is almost always a must. Not only can the customers at the downtown Watkinsville location try new, special blends to fit their holiday cravings, but the coffee roaster’s online store is also offering a special holiday deal, including a 25 percent off sale on select items.

Around Town

Photo courtesy of Foodbidden.wordpress.com

Outside of downtown, there are tons of other places to eat your way into the holiday spirit. Located on the Oconee Connector, Gigi’s Cupcakes offers special holiday boxes, and even serves up a perfectly-Christmas red velvet cupcake. Lastly, those looking to eat out for the holidays but still get a home-cooked experience can head over to Rachel’s Southern Style Restaurant for delicious southern cooking and an ever-changing daily menu.

‘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.

The UGA Bulldogs kicked off the 2016 football season with a win over the University of North Carolina on Saturday. Now with the Dawgs’ first home game of the season approaching, the excitement for Game Day between the hedges is near. In between cheering on the Dawgs and tailgating in Athens, find time to unwind in Watkinsville-Oconee County with our Top 5 List Georgia Fans must experience:

 

1. Dinner at Chops & Hops: A hometown favorite, the locally-owned fine dining establishment has been occupied by Georgia Dawgs quite often. Experience the great food and nice atmosphere that UGA students and athletes travel just 8 short miles for.

2. Downtown Shopping: Pick out your game day outfit at Orchard Street Boutique and Empire South, or find unique treasures for your home at Attic Treasures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Antique Shopping: If Attic Treasures inspires you, drive down to Bishop where you can find a cluster of antique stores all within one mile of each other along Highway 441.

4. Elder Mill Covered Bridge: If you’re traveling south, stop by this rare Georgia beauty. The bridge is one of only 13 functioning covered bridges in the state. Click here for a guide to visiting the 1890s bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Washington Farms: The popular farm won’t open for the fall season until late September, but it’s the perfect way to enjoy a Georgia fall weekend. The farm will feature a corn maze, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, and much more.

 

Filled with food, fun and history, the cities along the Georgia Antebellum Trail are gearing up for a trail of festivals. Highlighting the historic communities and attractions of Athens, Watkinsville, Madison, Eatonton, Milledgeville, Gray and Macon, the Antebellum Trail is a popular historic adventure among national and international visitors. Engage in fall fun while exploring a piece of Georgia history in October and November.

Watkinsville

Fall Wine Fest (October 9, 2016) – Hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation, food and wine vendors from across Georgia line the gardens of the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast to share its rich flavors with guests. The event also features art demonstrations and an online auction that will include travel packages, wine baskets, and more!

Oconee Chamber of Commerce Fall Festival (October 15, 2016) – The Artland of Georgia’s premier arts and crafts festival features food and local art vendors anchored throughout downtown Watkinsville. View and shop the works of arts of local artists, participate in family-friendly activities, and savor the best kettle corn in the area.

 

Athens

32nd Annual North Georgia Folk Festival (October 8, 2016) – Hosted in the classic city at Sandy Creek Park, the annual festival includes musicians, artists, storytellers, food, kid’s activities, and crafts demonstrations and sales in celebration of traditional arts.

Lickskillet Artist Market and Festival (October 22, 2016) – The Lyndon House Arts Center host its Lickskillet Artist Market and Festival each year. The event features diverse art, live music, children’s art activities, food trucks, and tours of the historic Ware-Lyndon Historic House.

 

Madison

Chili Cook-off & Fall Festival (October 8, 2016) – Madison’s annual fall festival will feature live music, kids’ activities, a marketplace, and a beer garden! Spend the day shopping and browsing vendor tents, eating delicious food, and sampling excellent chili while in Madison’s downtown Town Park.

Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival (November 5, 2016) – Enjoy the largest tractor parade in the Southeast right outside of Madison. The event celebrates the city of Bostwick’s agricultural heritage with specialty craft vendors, cotton ginning demonstrations, and kid-friendly activities.

 

Eatonton

Pumpkin Festival (October 1-2, 2016) – At the heart of the Antebellum Trail, join in on Crooked Pines Farm’s annual Pumpkin Festival. The farm will host fall activities including hay rides, corn-cob derby, apple-bobbing, pony rides and more.

The Briar Patch Arts Festival (October 29, 2016) – Eatonton’s annual arts festival showcases handmade soaps, photography, paintings, jewelry, pottery, and woodwork, as well as live musical performances in downtown Eatonton.

 

Milledgeville

Deep Roots Festival (October 22, 2016) – In Georgia’s Antebellum Capital, be ready to rock out and pig out at its Deep Roots Festival. The festival is a hometown favorite and a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event that features live music, art displays, and a BBQ cook-off in downtown Milledgeville.

Andalusia’s 12th Annual Bluegrass Festival (November 5, 2016) – Enjoy a picnic and the sounds of Bluegrass music with your family at the Andalusia – Home of Flannery O’Connor farm. The event will also include Porch Pickin’ and a Nature Trail Walk.

 

Macon

Macon Octoberfest (October 21-23, 2016) – Hosted at Tattnall Square Park, enjoy authentic Bavarian food, a beer garden featuring Georgia-made craft brews, live music, shopping and more! The three-day event will also include activities and entertainment for children, a wiener dog race and dog costume competition, and a Brewers Brunch. All proceeds will benefit charities.

For more information on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, visit www.antebellumtrail.org.

 

 

The results are in! In a week-long poll, visitors and residents voted for their favorite places to eat in Oconee County. See the results below.

 

 

The spot for the number 1 restaurant in Oconee County was a two-way tie among last year’s winner Chops and Hops and newly opened JB’s Smokin’ Pig BarbequeTaqueria La Parilla took second place, as The Traveling Hobo Cafe took third.

 

1.jbchops

 

 

2.taq

 

 

3.traveling

 

 

When asked what’s your favorite place to satisfy your sweet tooth or get a cool treat, Dairy Queen was an outstanding number one choice!

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Thanks for casting your votes in our poll, and be sure to check out these restaurants. For a complete listing of our dining options, click here.

What’s a Georgia summer without peaches? Here are five places in Oconee to get your peach fix before summer ends:

Di’lishi recently announced that its “Just Peachy” frozen yogurt dessert is back! Cool off with peach-flavored frozen yogurt topped with sliced peaches at the self-served yogurt bar at Epps Bridge.

 

Photo by Di’lishi Frozen Yogurt Bar-Athens

 

Your Pie’s popular summer pizza is also back. The Peach Prosciutto Pie features a hand-tossed dough topped with freshly sliced peaches, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses, basil, and house-made honey balsamic glaze. The pizza place is also extending its dish with gelato and crafted beer!

 

Photo by Your Pie

 

A hometown favorite, Thomas Orchards’s popular peach ice cream is a must. The greenhouse and gift shop makes its ice cream fresh with locally-grown peaches. You can also grab a bag of peaches to-go and get creative with your peach dishes at home.

 

 

Oconee County Farmers Market is also a place to find a variety of peach items including gelato, jams, and baked goods. Stop by the farmers market in Downtown Watkinsville each Saturday during the summer to see what peach options local vendors have to offer.

Chick-fil-A is also sweetening their menu with the new White Peach Tea Lemonade and summertime favorite Peach Milkshake made with fresh, white peaches. Stop by the Chick-fil-A at Epps Bridge to order these delicious peach items before summer ends!

Stop by these locations soon before peach season ends, and share your peachy summer with us online using the hashtag #OconeeEats. Click here for a complete dining guide.

 

The dining options in Oconee are growing! Four new restaurants have recently opened this year with great menus and atmospheres. Check them out during your next visit to Oconee.

Groove Burgers

Groove Burgers

Located in Epps Bridge Shopping Center, Groove Burgers specializes in fresh burgers, but its options don’t end there. With a menu comprised of salads, chicken sandwiches and seasonal side options, the burger joint is sure to leave you full and satisfied. Like Groove Burgers on Facebook for the latest updates.

“Very friendly staff, food is well thought out and the owner is always around to say hello! Would definitely recommend!! –Austin Mize

 

Bella Noche

The Italian restaurant is located in the Bell’s Shopping Center. Guests rave over the homemade pasta, freshly-made sauce, and wonderful service. Another plus is the unlimited servings of irresistible homemade bread!

“Service was outstanding! We really enjoyed our meal!” –Lisa Berry Collette

 

Diablo’s Southwest Grill

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This Mexican-style restaurant brings the freshness and flavor of the Southwest with a burrito bar full of fresh veggies and flavorful meats. Diablo’s, with its convenient phone charging station and quality service, has an all-around welcoming environment! Follow their Oconee County location on Facebook.

“Great service, friendly environment, and the food was awesome!!!!” –Tavaris Hopkins

 

JB’s Smokin’ Pig BBQ

Located in downtown Watkinsville, JB’s Smokin’ Pig is the new barbeque place in town. The restaurant is popular for its flavorful ribs and delicious sauces. With musical performances from local artists on Fridays, the restaurant makes for an enjoyable night out.

“Great food and excellent service! I’ve only had the pulled pork and Brunswick stew so far, but I’m super excited about trying the hash. Sauces are AMAZING!” –Jonathan Simpson

 

Be on the lookout for more new restaurants! Use the hashtag #OconeeEats on social media and let us know how you enjoyed our local restaurants. For a full dining guide, click here.

Watkinsville, deemed The Artland of Georgia for having more artists per capita than any other town in the state, is populated with unique art galleries, museums and exhibits showcasing local and national talents. Artists flock to this creative town to create, show and sell their work. Located just a stone’s throw from Athens, this artistic gem is worth a detour on your next trip to Georgia.

Get Fired Up about Pottery

Watkinsville is home to the largest pottery show in Georgia. In August and September, Perspectives: A Georgia Pottery Invitational showcases creations and demonstrations of 50 potters supported by the nonprofit Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF). A Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event, Perspectives attracts visitors from throughout the Southeast.

 

For an out-of-the-ordinary art experience any time of year, visit the quirky dwelling of Happy Valley Pottery. Home of art demonstrations like none other, at Happy Valley Pottery, you can see artists demonstrating glass-blowing, pottery-making, Raku firing and more. Continue reading . . . 

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