Laurel is Blooming, Master Naturalist Program, Trout Fest Recap, Lobster Truck & Bluegrass at Gibbs Gardens

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in Blue Ridge, and there’s a car show downtown. I saw lots of cool stuff headed there on the way into the office. There may be a flame azalea still in bloom here and there, but the big thrill at the moment is that the laurel is blooming. It looks like it’s going to be a really big year for the blackberries, and we haven’t had one for quite some time. They’ll probably come around the first of July.

We’ve completed the Georgia Master Naturalist certification. It’s a little embarrassing, because what you mostly learn is how little you really know, but we enjoyed it very much and found it very worthwhile. We’re going to agitate it for next year in Fannin County, so if you’re interested, please let me know by email at We’re keeping a list. It’s one full day a week for eight consecutive weeks, both classroom and field experiences. In some ways, it’s similar to the Master Gardener certification, but without the exams and without the community service requirement. I’ll be saying more about it when I have a chance to scan the curriculum we used, but it will ideally take place in the spring, which is the best time to see some of the things that we’ll be talking about.

The Trout Festival held two weeks ago was a success. This was a project of our chapter, #696, and it was a huge undertaking for us. For a first year event, it really ran without a hitch, due to the great organizing effort that went on beforehand. I’m told that paid attendance was around 3,000, not a bad number for a new festival. We were hoping for a higher attendance, but we were very happy that there were no vendor complaints, and that most or all of the vendors reported a good experience. Although there are festivals here that draw more, I think it’s safe to say that this was a targeted audience. In other words, from what I saw, most of the people who attended actually were trout fishermen, not just people who were in the park because something was going on. This means that the vendors were in fact in front of the people they wanted to reach.

Well, there were a few people who paid their $5 just for the food trucks. In addition to the Sweetwater Brewing folks and the Smoking Loon wine folks, and the Mercier’s Cider folks, we had Cousins Maine Lobster, Williamson Bros. BBQ, Angel Fire BBQ, Cape Pies (Meat Pies), the Sugar Rush truck, Mayfly Coffee, Al’s Boiled Peanuts, Mountain Kettle Corn, and Merciers food truck. I think they all did OK, but you couldn’t even get near the Lobster Truck.

I wasn’t feeling at all well, so it was all I could do to pull a few volunteer hours in the Chapter booth. We sold a few new memberships, transferred a few, and talked to a lot of people about how and where to fish Fannin County.

I didn’t end up being able to visit most of the vendors, but there were about sixty in all, not counting the food and drink. The Fish Hatchery people were there along with the Mountain Conservation Trust, the Georgia DNR, and the Benton McKaye Trail Association. One very interesting booth was the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians, which had amazing historic photographs on display. Most of the local guides were there, and there were classes all day long by the experts from the guide services. That tent was standing room only, so you could say it was a hit. There were also folks teaching novices how to cast.

If you’re sad that you missed the lobster truck, they’re scheduled to be at Gibbs Gardens tonight for the Twilight Music Series, from 6:00 – 9:00. That’s over by Big Canoe in “Greater Ball Ground.” The band is “8th of January,” a bluegrass outfit. They’re having a different food truck for every music event this summer. Directions are on their website, and for more info 770.893.1881. Admission is $20, seniors $18, and season pass $50.



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