The arrival of fall festivals is as reliable as the turning leaves. Yet, before you start reaching for that light sweater, several late summer fests take advantage of what's left of the seasonal warmth.
City of Kennesaw's Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival at Adams Park and the Ben Robertson Community Center
Teams fire up their grills and smokers for several competitions. The Backyard BBQ Contest finds amateurs whipping up their best chicken, pork and pork ribs for bragging rights. The other competitions are for cash prizes. For the Anything Butt Contest, organizers give each team a specific meat item, and the competitors use it to create a dish of their own choosing. The Peach Dessert Contest allows teams to make an original confection as long as it includes peaches. Hard-core competitors go for the whole hog in the Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned professional contest. It's recognized as a Georgia State Championship Barbecue Cook-Off. The grand champion walks away with a $2,000 cash prize and a Primo Grill worth approximately $1,500. Live bands perform amid the mouthwatering scents. Beginning at 6 p.m. Aug. 24, the Shuffle Junkies deliver blues and classic rock. At 8 p.m., the Jagged Stones, an uncanny tribute to the Rolling Stones, will have onlookers doing a double take as vocalist Stephen Skipper sings, looks and moves like Jagger. The music menu on Aug. 25 kicks off at noon with the bluegrass twang of the Kennesaw Mountain Boys. Blues guitar slinger Roger "Hurricane" Wilson takes the stage at 2 p.m. Whiskey Bent brings its brand of country rock at 5 p.m. Tribute band Frontiers does its best Journey impersonation at 7 p.m. A fireworks display caps off the event at 9:45 p.m. Tots can break a sweat while jumping in the inflatables found in the Kid Zone and then cool off on the new water slides. Others can peruse arts and crafts booths. Expect carnival food including funnel cakes and fried brownies. Of course, there will be plenty of barbecue for sale from vendors including Williamson Brothers Bar-B-Q, Barbecue Street and J.D.'s Bar-B-Que. More than 50,000 people are expected throughout the festival's run.
6-11 p.m. Aug. 24; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Aug. 25. Free. Adams Park, 2753 Watts Drive, Kennesaw. 770-422-9714, www.pigsandpeaches.com.
Summer Shade Festival at Grant Park
Approximately 30,000 people will converge upon Grant Park for this annual two-day trifecta of food, art and music, so organizers encourage guests to carpool or ride MARTA. The Adams Realtors 5K Run for the Park steps off at 8 a.m. Aug. 25. A juried and non-juried artist market spotlights work including paintings, photography, jewelry and more. Visitors can browse the artwork while listening to a soundtrack of live music. The Old Ceremony and the Wheeler Boys headline on Aug. 25, and the Higher Choir and the Whiskey Gentry headline on Aug. 26. Food vendors, including the Pickle food truck and the Fry Guys, offer a variety of grub. Foodies flock from 1 to 5 p.m. each day for the special Corks & Forks event. Local chefs present some of their most cherished summertime dishes, and offer food and wine samples. Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint, Graveyard, Cake Hag and Bhojanic are among the slew of participating restaurants. Armchair chefs can soak up cooking demos and seminars. Guests cheer on the pros during the chef grill-off competition. Corks & Forks tickets cost $35 per day in advance, and $45 at the door while supplies last. Kids can blow off steam in a play area and check out a puppet show, which is new this year. It takes place at 10 a.m. Aug. 25 in the Grant Park Recreation Center. It lasts approximately one hour and will be followed by a kids parade.
10 a.m.-10 p.m. Aug. 25; 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Aug. 26. Free. Grant Park, 800 Cherokee Ave., Atlanta. 404-521-0938, www.summershadefestival.org.
Piedmont Park Summer Arts & Crafts Festival
Last year marked the first edition of this festival, which hopes to bring back the spirit of the popular, classic Midtown arts festivals from days gone by. Organizers expect somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 visitors over the fest's two days. Approximately 50 artists have been added to this year's roster with as many as 200 in all. Painters, sculptors, photographers, glass blowers, metal workers and others will set up shop. Among the highlights are the photorealistic oil paintings of Sam and Jeannie Maddox, and Jan Aberg's fused glass mosaic works. The children's area has been expanded for 2012 featuring more hands-on activities. A fleet of food trucks — including Yumbii, S & J's Woodfired Pizza, Tastee Truck and Sweet Monkey Frozen Yogurt — supply the grub. Folks can nosh and nibble while seeing live musical performances by Wesley Cook, Jeno, Kurt Scobie, Aviva and the Flying Penguins, Neil Cribbs, Parker Smith and Baton Bob.
10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 18; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 19. Free. Piedmont Park, main entrance at the corner of Charles Allen Drive and 10th Street. 404-845-0793, www.piedmontparkartsfestival.com.
Butterfly Festival at Dunwoody Nature Center
Things are definitely aflutter as approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people gather to celebrate the tiny and beautiful winged creatures. Dunwoody Nature Center members have the option of arriving early for a special preview at 9 a.m., and doors open to the public at 10 a.m. New editions this year include a birds of prey show at 10:45 a.m., Jay Ward Entertainment's magic show at noon, and a special butterfly release at 1 p.m. Jason's Music Party performs two sets of family-friendly tunes at 1:15 and 2 p.m. The centerpiece of the event is the butterfly tent, where hundreds of butterflies flicker about. Both kids and adults can make their own crafts. Other activities include garden tours and a special geocaching hunt hosted by REI. It all wraps up with a musical butterfly parade through the festival grounds.
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 18. $8; $5 ages 4-12; free ages 3 and younger. Dunwoody Nature Center, 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. 770-394-3322, www.dunwoodynature.org.
Vineyard Fest 2012 at Chateau Elan
Food and wine lovers ages 21 and older, approximately 2,000 in all, raise their glasses at this 16th annual gala for the grape. It's harvest season, and the event offers more than 100 wines hailing from all over the globe, from New Zealand to our very own Georgia. All of the tasting takes place in a new air-conditioned pavilion and cask room. Attendees can pick up some wine and food knowledge through cooking demonstrations and seminars from folks including author Judith McLoughlin and Codie Williams of Boudreaux's Cafe Acadiana. The wine can be paired with farm-to-table bites including wild shrimp, stone-ground speckled grits with cheddar cheese, slow-smoked pork and more. Local artisan cheeses come courtesy of Sweet Grass Dairy and Flat Creek Lodge. Those interested in visiting Chateau Elan's winery and wine market can take self-guided tours. Ever wondered what it feels like to have grapes squish between your toes? Everyone is invited to participate in grape stomping. If you'd rather stomp your feet to rock 'n' roll, vocalist Tommy Dean leads the League of Decency through the musical paces.
1-5 p.m. Aug. 26. $75. Chateau Elan, 100 Rue Charlemagne, Braselton. 1-800-233-9463, www.chateauelan.com.
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