Festival fun can fill your weekends

Labor Day signals an easing into what is typically one of the best times of the year to be outdoors in the South. The days are not quite so long or hot, and people get an itch to get back outside and relive remnants of summertime fun.

September and October weekends provide the respite we crave with fun, food, entertainment and a chance to taste, test and toast the wares of some of our region’s finest cooks, artists, craftsmen and musicians.

Only The Atlanta Journal-Constitution brings you this rundown to plan your weekend getaways. Keep it handy and join in the fun from events that have a big reputation, such as the Yellow Daisy Festival and Taste of Atlanta, to hometown celebrations all over metro Atlanta.

Art in the Park

The 27th annual Art in the Park festival in Marietta is considered one of the top events by the Southeast Tourism Society. It will feature good eats and the works of art by local and national artists. There’s also a children’s arts alley with free arts stations and the Citrus Magic Pet Rest for dog and cat owners.

And folks, this time it’s OK to draw on the ground. The Marietta Chalkfest will feature 20 professional chalk artists. On Saturday and Sunday, visitors can see chalk artists create astounding images, and amateurs can get involved in a competition themselves.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Free. Held in and around historic Marietta Square and Glover Park; free parking on the street and in the Cobb County Park Decks located on Waddell Street at Lawrence Street. www.artparkmarietta.com.

Shelia M. Poole

Yellow Daisy Festival

This festival in Stone Mountain Park, now in its 45th year, is considered a favorite among arts and crafts venues. It features more than 400 artists from across the country and offers live entertainment and good food.

Stone Mountain has always inspired Rebecca Willoughby to re-create memories of her youth, spent in the park. She is a mother and featured artist this year at the festival, voted one of the top three arts and crafts shows in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine.

Willoughby, 46, was a regular at the park during summer visits to Atlanta with her family and while enrolled at the Portfolio Center, a graphic design and illustration school in Atlanta in 1987 and 1988, when she supervised the park’s concession staff.

“I really feel like I’ve come full circle,” Willoughby said recently from her home in Louisiana. “I have drawings I did as a kid at Stone Mountain and when I was in college and worked there.”

Early this year, she decided to submit an application to the Yellow Daisy Festival.

Not only was she accepted, festival officials called to invite her to submit work to be considered as this year’s featured artist.

“I went to work and created an acrylic of three Stone Mountain daisies with a green dragonfly on one of the petals,” she said. “I was shocked and thrilled when I learned I was the featured artist.”

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 5, 6 and 8, 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sept. 7. $10 entry fee per vehicle. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 770-498-5690, www.stonemountainpark.com/events/Yellow-Daisy-Festival.aspx.

Gracie Bonds Staples

Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival

Barbecue lovers will be in hog heaven during the fifth annual Atlanta Bar-B-Q festival at Atlantic Station. Whether you prefer your barbecue Texas-, Carolina-, Memphis-, St. Louis- or Kentucky-style, you can sink your teeth into this event.

At your fingertips will be barbecue competition, live music and entertainment, cooking demonstrations and a grilling and cooking marketplace.

A new feature this year is the “BBQ & Bourbon Experience.” People can sample from a selection of 20 top-shelf bourbons and Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q Pig Pick’n Feast from the VIP seating area, limited to 100 guests. Tickets are $85 to the Bourbon Experience and include entry to the festival on Saturday. Food will be served from noon to 4 p.m.

4-10 p.m. Sept. 13 and noon-8 p.m. Sept. 14. General admission tickets for each day: $6 in advance, $10 day of the festival. 20th Street at Atlantic Station, Atlanta. For information, go to www.atlbbqfest.com. For tickets, call 1-877-725-8849 or go to the festival website.

Shelia M. Poole

Atlanta Arts Festival at Piedmont Park

This event will feature 200 of the country’s finest painters, photographers, sculptors, leather metal craftsmen and glass blowers. And it’s not only for looking and buying, but also experiencing. Founder Julie Johnston Tepp places a special emphasis on hands-on stations for children and adults so festivalgoers can dip their hands in paint, learn how to dye paper and get a chance to turn recycled material into works of art. There also will be face painting and balloon twisting, and this year, there will be an “Art of Cooking” stage with cooking demonstrations.

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 14 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 15. Free. Piedmont Park (on the west side of the park, running from the 12th Street and 14th Street entrances toward the Bath House), Atlanta. www.atlantaartsfestival.com.

Helena Oliviero

Sandy Springs Festival

Highlights include a pet parade, music, dance and vocal performances, the second annual “ArtSS Chalk Walk” chalk art competition, the Doug Kessler Sandy Springs Lightning 10K/5K, a Business & Civic Expo, food vendors, activities for children and teens and an artists’ market. The festival takes place throughout the heart of Sandy Springs. Free parking is available at Century Springs East and West Parking Lots at the corner of Lake Forrest and Hammond drives, and a shuttle will be available. Organizers ask that you do not park at the CityWalk or area shopping centers, as those lots are for retail patrons.

9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 21 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 22. $5 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 17, free for children 5 and younger and free for Heritage Sandy Springs members. Two-day passes are available for $7 for adults and $3 for children 6 to 17. Race registration is $30 for the 5K and $35 for the 10K or $35/$40 after Sept. 19 or on race day. 404-851-9111, www.sandyspringsfestival.com.

Jennifer Brett

Marietta StreetFest

Happy 21st of September! Since this year’s Independence Day parade and fireworks were rained out, the city of Marietta will celebrate during StreetFest. The event features arts and crafts, antiques, a car show, music, children’s activities and a farmers market. Assuming it does not rain again, the fireworks display begins when it gets dark.

9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 21. Free. Marietta Square. The Marietta Museum of History, which organizes the event, will be open. Museum admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and free for children 5 and younger. 770-794-5710, www.mariettastreetfest.com.

Jennifer Brett

Riverfest Arts and Crafts Festival

The annual Riverfest Arts and Crafts Festival in Canton prides itself in featuring only handmade or homegrown offerings. Held at Boling Park along the banks of the Etowah River, you can expect to see everything from yard art, paintings, photography, wrought iron works, jewelry and woodwork to carvings and sculptures. This festival includes a large children’s area with a rock climbing wall, martial arts and inflatable slides. And yes, of course, this children’s area also will have a petting zoo and pony rides.

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 28 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 29. A $5 recommended (but not required) donation for adults and children and 11 and older. Boling Park, 1200 Marietta Highway, Canton. Free parking, and shuttle service is available from the parking areas. www.serviceleague.net.

Helena Oliviero

Atlanta Black Theatre Festival

It’s a marathon of culture during the annual Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, which will feature more than 40 performances in four days. The festival is the brainchild of Toni Henson, who wanted to present a platform for artists to produce and perform plays in metro Atlanta. Among the highlights: Actress Janet Hubert will star in a one-woman show, “From Broadway to TV, Now Back to Me.” The play will focus on the life of Hubert, known as “Aunt Viv” of “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”

Author and playwright Pearl Cleage will be honored during the Producers’ Ball and Awards Ceremony at 7 p.m. Oct. 5. The minimum donation for the ball is $75 for individuals and $500 for a reserved VIP table of eight.

Various times Oct. 3-6. Ticket prices start at $10. At the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts & Community Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive in Decatur. www.AtlantaBTF.org.

Shelia M. Poole

Festival on Ponce

As many as 175 artists and crafters line up in the chain of parks found along Ponce de Leon Avenue. A children’s area, food vendors and trucks, and live acoustic music highlight the event. It benefits the Olmsted Linear Park Alliance and the Paideia School.

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 19 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 20. Free. Olmsted Linear Park, 1246 Ponce De Leon Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-845-0793, www.festivalonponce.com.

Gracie Bonds Staples

11th annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium

Experience life and art in the old West at Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville. Highlights include a “Passport to the West” school program with “demonstrations of pottery making, blacksmithing, chair caning, spinning, beading, chuck wagon cooking, flint knapping, and life at a trading post,” according to organizers.

In addition, living history performers Jim Sawgrass and Little Big Mountain will present programs on Native American culture for students. Enjoy entertainment throughout the day on two stages, including Western music, fast-draw competitions, performances of the re-enactment of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Other events include an opening reception, art history lectures, the Boot Kickin’ Harvest Hustle 5K, benefiting the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, a performance by country-western artist John Anderson, a Western marketplace and a Sunday morning Cowboy Church service.

Oct. 24-27. $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65 and older, $7 for students, $3 for children 12 and younger and free for Booth museum members and active military personnel with ID. Tickets to the John Anderson concert are $25 for museum members and $30 for the general public. Tickets to the school program are $5 for students, $3 for adults and free for teachers. (Call 770-387-3849 to schedule your school group.) 501 Museum Drive, Cartersville. 770-387-1300, www.boothmuseum.org/cowboy-festival-and-symposium.

Jennifer Brett

Taste of Atlanta

Come celebrate food with a three-day festival featuring the culinary talents of Atlanta’s 90 best restaurants. Taste and savor delicious creations from local and national celebrity chefs. Learn tips and tricks of the trade at cooking demonstrations, while street performers dazzle crowds. Live music, kids’ interactive activities, vendors and more will line up along 10 city blocks at Technology Square in Midtown.

6:30-10:30 p.m. Oct. 25; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 26-27. General: $30 advance, $40 at the gate for general admission on Oct. 26-27. VIP: $75 in advance; $85 at event. Tech Square at Spring Street and Fifth Street, Atlanta. www.tasteofatlanta.com.

Gracie Bonds Staples

Snellville Fall Festival

Festivalgoers will get an extra treat at the fourth annual Snellville Fall Festival on Oct. 26. The Snellville Tourism & Trade organization, which puts on the festival and other events, will unveil its mascot. Hint: It’s a furry friend. Other than that, you will just have to wait and see.

But if mascots aren’t your thing, there’s plenty else to see at the festival. There will be more than 75 craft vendors, music, live entertainment, kids’ activities and a clogging demonstration. For those with a sweet tooth, there will be a pie and cake baking contest. Want more? Participate in a costume contest and pumpkin bowling.

Noon-8 p.m. Oct. 26. Free. Snellville Towne Green, across from City Hall. Kelly McAloon at 770-310-0429, www.snellvillepride.com.

Shelia M. Poole

Smyrna Fall Jonquil Festival

Get ready for the Fall Jonquil Festival, which is held annually. This year’s fest will feature more than 125 handmade arts and crafts booths, local nonprofit booths, puppet shows, live music, plenty of festival foods, and children’s activities. There’s also local entertainment on the stage in front of the library.

The Friends of the Smyrna Library will have its book sale during the Fall Jonquil Festival, and Keep Smyrna Beautiful will distribute jonquil bulbs and promote a cleaner Smyrna.

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 26 and noon-5 p.m. Oct. 27. Free. Village Green in downtown Smyrna. For more information, call Tod Miller or Bill Watson at 770-423-1330 or go to www.smyrnacity.com.

Shelia M. Poole

Fall festivals near metro Atlanta

More Georgia festivals, including Japan Fest, Atlanta Greek Festival, Jekyll Island's Shrimp & Grits: The Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival and the Stone Mountain Scottish Festival and Highland Games.

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