Story by H.M. CAULEY
Live music, food, crafts, art and culture await thousands who flock to the annual fall festivals, ready to indulge and experience the latest trends. Here’s just a smattering of what’s taking place in September and October.
Since 1994, Music Midtown has been the city’s premier place to catch 30-some artists on four stages. Almost every genre is represented, from classic rock ’n’ roll to contemporary electronic. This year’s lineup includes rapper-songwriter Kendrick Lamar, pop rock Imagine Dragons, rapper-singer Post Malone and rock band Fall Out Boy. In between shows, fill up on food and drink options inside the park grounds.
Sept. 15-16. Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive N.E., Atlanta. musicmidtown.com
Wire &Wood Alpharetta Songwriters Festival
The sixth annual celebration of songwriters returns with indoor and outdoor performances across downtown Alpharetta. This year’s headliners are guitarist Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Justin Townes Earle, Glen Phillips and Dan Wilson of Semisonic, whose list of collaborators includes Josh Groban, LeeAnn Rimes, Halsey and Pink. Wilson co-wrote three songs on Adele’s ablum “21,” including “Someone Like You.”
Oct. 12-13. 2 Park Plaza, Alpharetta. wireandwoodalpharetta.com
Taste of Smyrna
More than 30 local eateries will offer samples of their best dishes at this foodie celebration on Smyrna’s Village Green. Other activities include live music and a kids zone.
Sept. 15. Village Green, 200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna.
Taste of Buckhead
Some of the Atlanta area’s top chefs from such restaurants as Davio’s, The Big Ketch and Southern Gentleman will serve menu delectables in the Stave Room at ASW Distillery. Tastings also include wine, spirits, craft brews and a tour of ASW.
Sept. 20. ASW Distillery, 199 Armour Drive N.E., Atlanta. tasteofbuckhead.org
Atlanta Greek Festival
Crowds converge on Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral for a four-day celebration of food, music, culture and history. Many pre-order favorite dishes to enjoy at the festival or take home. Additional festivities include dance performances, arts and crafts, and a tour inside the historic cathedral.
Sept. 27-30. 2500 Clarimont Road, Atlanta. atlantagreekfestival.org
Taste of Chamblee
Chamblee marks its 11th year of showcasing its local food scene with Indian, Mexican, Italian cuisine and more at the corner of Peachtree Road and Broad Street. Adding to the fun, SEC football games will be shown on two large-screen TVs.
Oct. 6. Peachtree Road and Broad Street, Chamblee. tasteofchamblee.net
Atlanta Chili Cookoff
Choose your favorite flavor from area restaurants including Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, Freight Kitchen and Tap, Seven Lamps and Terra Terroir, as well as dishes concocted by amateur chef teams ready to blow your taste buds.
Atlanta Chili Cookoff. Oct.13. Brookhaven Park. 2660 Osborne Road N.E., Brookhaven. atlantachilicookoff.com
Cumming Greek Festival
Missing a tasty moussaka or spanakopita? Head north to this celebration of all things Greek. Vendors will display Greek-inspired jewelry, art and crafts. Live music will be performed by the Bouzouki Express. The sanctuary of the host church, Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Greek Orthodox, will be open for tours.
Cumming Greek Festival. Oct. 19-21. 3074 Bethelview Road, Cumming. cumminggreekfestival.com
Taste of Atlanta
Based at the city’s Historic Fourth Ward Park, this three-day food extravaganza has more than mere bites. Sign up for chef’s tables and wine tastings, check out the food demonstrations and meet farmers who supply some of Atlanta’s top restaurant kitchens.
Oct. 19-21. 680 Dallas St. N.E., Atlanta. tasteofatlanta.com
Roswell Arts Festival
Historic town square will bustle with activity for Roswell’s annual arts event. Live performances by singers and dancers, children’s art projects, vendors’ booths and an assortment of food options are all part of the fun.
Sept. 15-16. City Hall. 38 Hill St., Roswell. roswellartsfestival.com
Fall Folklife Festival
Life seemed much simpler years ago when day-to-day tasks were more time-consuming. During the Folklife Festival, chef demonstrations in the open-hearth kitchen at the Atlanta History Center reveal how food was preserved before refrigerators. Experts show how baskets were woven and pottery shaped. Visitors can also chat with folk artists, listen to folk musicians and sample local beers on tap.
Sept. 22. Atlanta History Center. 130 West Paces Ferry Road N.W., Buckhead. atlantahistorycenter.com
Sandy Springs Festival
The annual event draws more than 20,000 people to its festivities. In additional to an artist market, a pet parade will be held, as well as a Lightning 10K and 5K and a sidewalk chalk art contest. Various types of cuisine will be available for tastings. Live music and dance performances will also take place.
Sept. 22-23. Heritage Sandy Springs. 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. heritagesandysprings.org
This local staple started in 1969 as Crossroads at Crabapple Arts and Antique Festival. Historic Milton welcomes attendees to shop for antiques, art and crafts while enjoying food, music and kids’ activities. More than 100 vendors participate.
Oct. 6. 12650 Crabapple Road, Milton. cityofmiltonga.us
Johns Creek Arts Festival
The greenspace opposite the Atlanta Athletic Club hosts more than 130 artists from around the U.S., showcasing their best in pottery, painting, jewelry, glass, metal and more. A children’s art pavilion will also be open.
Oct. 20-21. 1930 Bobby Jones Drive, Johns Creek. tinyurl.com/y9yohppe
Fall Jonquil Festival
More than 150 craftspeople display jewelry, paintings, furniture and more. Children’s activities include interactive inflatables and a costume parade. Puppeteer Peter Hart is enjoyed by all with his assortment of marionettes and puppets that juggle, sing, dance and get into antics. Live music will be performed by Scott Thompson.
Oct. 27-28. Village Green. 200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna. smyrnacity.com
Taste of Atlanta chef has Zeal
Scott Sawant believes in all things local. The chef and owner of East Cobb’s Zeal restaurant, who will be making his second appearance at Taste of Atlanta in October, serves up a contemporary American menu based on locally available ingredients. But his commitment to keeping things close to home goes even deeper.
The 27-year-old grew up in the neighborhood, graduated from Wheeler High and earned a business degree from Kennesaw State. In fact, Zeal’s location at 1255 Johnson Ferry Road has ties to his roots.
“For about 30 years, this was the Empress of China, and I used to come here as a kid after baseball practice or a school event,” he recalls. “The space had a special charm for me. I even live 3 miles from the restaurant. I’m as local as it gets”
Zeal is now a special place for diners who come in frequently for an entrée of chicken lollipop appetizers and giant sea scallops with pork-belly-sautéed Brussels sprouts. Sawant will serve those signature, best-selling dishes at the festival.
His chicken lollipops of frenched wings are convenient for strolling festivalgoers to manage, and seasoned with tandoori spices and Szechuan sauce.
“Even though the restaurant is contemporary American, my family background is Indian, so there’s always a lot of flavor involved,” Sawant says. “I use a lot of fresh herbs, marinated meats, clay ovens, and roasting and baking with wood fires.”
Zeal. 1255 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta. 678-401-7142. zealrestaurant.com