Celebrate with dancing at the Town of Mount Pleasant Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival

The Southeast Tourism Society (STS) is dedicated to promoting and developing tourism in its member states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. In 1985, in recognition of the unique, diverse and unparalleled events in the region, STS began the Top 20 Events award program. A Top 20 Award seeks to bring more publicity and recognition to the best events in the Southeast, whether it be media, attendees or both! STS selects the Top 20 events, per month, and publishes them on a quarterly basis. Recent winners are listed below. Learn more about Southeast Tourism Society at www.SoutheastTourism.org

Current Top 20 Events

April

April 1-3, 2016, Summerville Family YMCA Flowertown Festival, Summerville, South Carolina, www.FlowertownFestival.org
Every spring, the Town of Summerville, South Carolina bursts with color, from the hot pink azaleas, to the purple wisteria, to the delicate white dogwood as part of the three-day YMCA Flowertown Festival. Hundreds of thousands of festival-goers transcend this charming Southern town to take in the blooms and hospitality, all while attending one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast. This festival has over 200 jury-selected artists from around the country who display their works for sale, delicious foods from top area restaurants, fun activities, rides for children and a Farmer’s Market.

April 1-3, 2016, Scott Boudin Festival, Scott, LA, ScottBoudinFestival.com
The Scott Boudin Festival is where locals and visitors alike gather to celebrate family, food, arts, crafts, music and of course…boudin. Scott is a community rich in Cajun heritage and the festival celebrates that spirit. Boudin is a unique Cajun specialty that’s familiar recipe has been passed down from one generation to the next. It’s a combination of rice, special blend of seasonings and traditionally, pork, but you may also find boudin made with shrimp, crawfish, or even some alligator-then it’s all rolled up in a sausage casing. In addition to sampling every boudin under the sun, families will enjoy live entertainment, carnival rides, games, food vendors and much more. The Scott Boudin Festival invites everyone, from the young, to the young-at-heart, to enjoy this one-of-a-kind event.

April 1-2, 2016, Springtime Tallahassee, Tallahassee, FL, www.SpringtimeTallahassee.com
Experience true Southern hospitality with one of the largest and most celebrated festivals in the Southeast—Springtime Tallahassee. This two-day event kicks off with a music festival featuring national entertainment acts, including The Eli Young Band, Friday night. Unwind at the festival’s Beer Garden as melodies fill the air. Saturday begins with a Grand Parade featuring over 100 entries, followed by the famous Jubilee in the park. Browse through hand crafted items, enjoy activities for the kids and listen as local entertainment acts take multiple stages all throughout Downtown Tallahassee.

April 2-3, 2016, Kite Fest Louisiana, Port Allen (West Baton Rouge), LA, www.WestBatonRouge.net/main-events.html
Kites of all shapes and sizes fill the skies at Kite Fest Louisiana, the only Kite Festival in the state of Louisiana. This unique event brings professional kite flyers from all over the country who come to perform with exotic kites and do kite ballets in the skies over West Baton Rouge. Over 20,000 people attend this festival every year. This family-friendly event includes kite making, Bol races (parachute), candy drops, in-door flying and fun for everyone. Bring your lawn chairs and come out to enjoy this truly unique festival.

April 2-3, 2016, Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival “Art, Wine & Wheels” Weekend, Ridgeland, MS, www.RidgelandArtsFest.com
The Ridgeland Tourism Commission created the Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival to provide an opportunity for people from across the southeast to view and purchase some of the finest artwork created in America. Set in beautiful Renaissance at Colony Park, this outdoor festival atmosphere allows patrons to mingle with artists and talk with them about their influences and methods. The festival also includes fun activities like: Children’s Creative Crafts Corner, a student gallery, live music and more.

April 6-10, 2016, North Carolina Azalea Festival, Wilmington, NC, www.NCAzaleaFestival.org
For more than 60 years, the folks of Southeastern North Carolina have been throwing the best party in the South and you’re invited! Each April, The North Carolina Azalea Festival provides a full week of natural beauty, big-name entertainment, festive galas and fun family events, all to showcase the charms of the Wilmington area. For community pride and springtime pageantry, the North Carolina Azalea Festival has no equal! Between the rich array of artwork, gardens, history and culture, The North Carolina Azalea Festival has something for everyone.

April 9, 2016, Lewisburg Chocolate Festival, Lewisburg, WV, www.LewisburgChocolateFestival.com
The sweet smell of chocolate draws people in by the thousands to downtown Lewisburg, West Virginia every year during the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival. Sample your way through the dozens of chocolate vendors. Walk through the professional chef chocolate displays, watch a hands-free mousse-eating contest or indulge in a chocolate themed dinner. The festival also features live music, a 10K, chef demonstrations, a chocolate bake-off and plenty of activities for the kids.

April 14-23, 2016, Come-See-Me Festival, Rock Hill, SC, www.ComeSeeMe.org
Winner of the 2014 South Carolina Event of the Year, the Come-See-Me Festival showcases Rock Hill with ten days of music, sports, community activities and garden parties. Comprised of more than 70 events and activities, the festival allows guest to enjoy signature offerings including: Beach Bash, Midnight Jazz & Blues and Gourmet Gardens. Come-See-Me hosts a tailgate party and a fireworks extravaganza to crowds of nearly 20,000. Kids can take part in the Mayor’s Frog Jump, Teddy Bear Tea Party, Chalk on Main, Musical Mania and more. Competitions include a half-marathon and 5K Road Races, Cornhole Throwdown and a Barbeque Cook-off. This jam-packed event has something for every member of the family!

April 14-May 6, 2016, Kentucky Derby Festival, Louisville, KY, www.KDF.org
The Kentucky Derby Festival stretches a famous “two minutes” into a month-long party. What the Run for the Roses is to horse racing, the Derby Festival is to community celebrations. The Festival is one of the premiere events of its kind in the world and a proud winner of the International Festival & Events Association Award for “Best Overall Festival” eight times. The 2016 Festival blasts off on April 23rd with the Opening Ceremonies– Thunder Over Louisville, one of the nation’s largest annual fireworks extravaganzas! The following weeks of excitement and entertainment, promises something for everyone. For sports fans, there is basketball, volleyball and golf. For music lovers, there are non-stop concerts. There is also a hot air balloon festival, live bed racing, The Great Steamboat Race, the Fillies Derby Ball and more. You name it- the Kentucky Derby Festival has it! Get off to the races in Louisville, Kentucky!

April 16-June 5, 2016 (Saturdays, Sundays and Memorial Day), Georgia Renaissance Festival, Fairburn, GA, www.GARenFest.com
The Georgia Renaissance Festival, now in its 31st year, is a Renaissance themed amusement park set in a 16th Century English Village, just south of Atlanta. The Kingdom comes to life every Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day for eight spectacular weekends! Inside the Village, you’ll find Knights in shining armor, the Queen and her Court, all welcoming you to a marketplace filled with 150 artisan shops and a full day of endless entertainment. Features include 10 stages of circus-style shows, jousting knights, strolling musicians and comedic storytellers. The Royal Food Courts serve food fit for a king, including giant turkey legs and frothy ales to wash it all down. There’s no wonder this event has been listed as a Top 250 USA Event by “Events Business News” magazine, a Top 100 Event in North America from the American Bus Association and Best Festival for “Families by Our Kids” magazine.

June 25-26, 2016 Old Fourth Ward Arts Festival, Atlanta, GA, www.AFFPS.com
The Atlanta Foundation for the Public Spaces is proud to announce the Fourth Annual Old Fourth Ward Arts Festival at Historic Fourth Ward Park. Named “Best New Event” by the Southeast Festivals and Events Association, this two-day arts festival has become the perfect celebration of the artistic innovation that the Old Fourth Ward Neighborhood embodies. Visitors will enjoy art from up to 200 local and regional artists carefully chosen to reflect this historic but progressive neighborhood. Painting, photography, ceramics, glass, jewelry, woodwork, handcrafted items as well as an Emerging Artists Pavilion will be showcased at the park along a winding paved path with the beautiful pond and amphitheater as a backdrop. Along with the fine arts and crafts, there will be a children’s play area, local food and beverage concessions, as well as live acoustic entertainment.

April 14-16, 2016, Rivers & Spires Festival, Clarkesville, TN, RiversAndSpires.com
Each April, the Rivers & Spires Festival transforms historic downtown Clarksville, Tennessee into an entertainment paradise. Featuring local live music groups, famous music headlines, arts, crafts, delicious food vendors and interactive displays, this festival attracts over 30,000 people each year. In addition to music concerts, exhibitors include sports teams, car shows and games for all ages.

April 19-23, 2016, Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, Gatlinburg, TN, www.Gatlinburg.com/events
As winter fades and the colors of spring begin to sparkle throughout the Smokies, Gatlinburg blossoms into the center of all things botanical during the Great Smoky Mountain Association’s 66th Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage. The Wildflower Pilgrimage, which dates to 1951, offers over 150 programs including an array of instructional walks and guided hiking tours tailored to meet individual walking skill and ability, along with demonstrations and guest lecturers.  These tours showcase the abundant varieties of wildflowers, plants, ferns, mosses, trees and shrubs, as well as birds, reptiles and amphibians, all native to the Great Smoky Mountains. Everyone from the serious botanist to the weekend gardener can experience unprecedented access to some of the nation’s leading botanical experts as well as Appalachian wildlife authorities.

April 21-23, 2016, Thomasville Rose Show & Festival, Thomasville, GA
www.ThomasvilleGa.com/Content/Default/8/321/320/thomasville-visitor’s-center/festivals/thomasville-rose-show-and-festival.html
Held in beautiful, historic downtown Thomasville, the Rose Festival has been a Southwest Georgia tradition since the 1920’s.  Enjoy roses, roses, and more roses, plus two parades, live music and street dance (this year featuring the Swingin’ Medallions), arts & crafts, fantastic food and so much more.

April 21-24, 2016, 39th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival, Vidalia, GA, www.VidaliaOnionFestival.com
Each spring, Vidalia anticipates the harvest of Georgia’s Official State Vegetable, the internationally known Vidalia Sweet Onion. The Vidalia Onion Festival has been featured on The Food Network and recognized on MSNBC. The festival is a four-day event that offers something for everyone. Pre-festival activities begin with a youth baseball tournament, the Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant and the Vidalia Onion Culinary Extravaganza. The Children’s Parade and Movie Under the Stars are on Thursday evening, then Opening Ceremonies, Street Dance, and fireworks kick off the weekend’s activities. Additional activities include arts & crafts, carnival, sidewalk sales, Onion Run, and the famous onion-eating contest. Watch on as Georgia’s top chefs compete for the coveted “Golden Onion Trophy.”

April 22-23, 2016, Gardendale Magnolia Festival, Gardendale, AL, www.MagnoliaFestival.org.
Come enjoy the largest event that Northern Alabama has to offer. The Gardendale Magnolia Festival is jam-packed with famous food vendors, free entertainment, art classes, carnival, beauty pageant, fishing tournament, 5K race, art contest and even a Pooch Parade! Don’t miss the festival that has been recognized by The Food Network, Cooking Channel, Carnival Eats and “Birmingham Parent” magazine.

April 22-23, 2016, Norfolk NATO Festival, Norfolk, VA, www.NorfolkNATOFestival.org
The Norfolk NATO Festival is the only festival in the United States, which honors the NATO Alliance and its Member Nations. Enjoy the Flag Raising Ceremony, which honors each of the 28 NATO Member Nations by raising each country’s flag. The next morning, the parade of Nations proceeds through downtown Norfolk. This parade features more than 100 units including colorful floats representing the 28 Member Nations of NATO. Then, NATOFest kicks off in Town Point Park. Guests enjoy international cuisine, cultural entertainment and a large Beer Garden. The focal point of NATOFest is NATO Village. Visitors can explore 28 national tents to meet NATO representatives, sample treats and learn about each nation’s culture. Norfolk NATO Festival is a unique cultural experience where guests can visit 28 countries—no passport required!

April 22-23, 2016, Colleton Rice Festival, Walterboro, SC, www.RiceFestival.org
The annual Colleton County Rice Festival gives a glimpse into the county’s heritage as well as provides entertainment for the whole family. Local organizers have been making sure rice, and its role in shaping the Lowcountry, has its time in the sun. Entering its 41st year, the Rice Festival will include arts and crafts, a dock-dog competition, parade, bicycle ride, pageant, 5K run, live music, Elvis impersonator and a larger-than-life-fireworks display. One of the major highlights this year– a BMX bike show. Explore the charming South Carolina streets and come see why Walterboro is the front porch of the Lowcountry.

April 24, 2016, Town of Mount Pleasant Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival, Mount Pleasant, SC, www.ComeOnOverMP.com
For almost three decades, the annual Town of Mount Pleasant Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival has honored and supported local shrimpers and fishermen. Overlooking beautiful Charleston Harbor in the middle of the Lowcountry spring, this festival has evolved into one of the most highly anticipated events of the year for seafood lovers, residents and visitors. Located in picturesque Memorial Waterfront Park, guests are treated to a boat parade and ceremonial blessing of the shrimp/fishing fleet, savory seafood samplings from some of Mount Pleasant’s favorite restaurants, live music, an arts and craft show, shag-dancing competition, shrimp-eating contests and plenty of family-friendly activities.

April 27-May 1, 2016, Beaufort Wine and Food Weekend, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortWineAndFood.com
Beaufort Wine and Food is a non-profit that has been celebrated for over 11 years and during this time has become one of Eastern North Carolina’s premier tourism events. Since its inception, Beaufort Wine and Food has raised over $450,000 for charities and non-profits. Heading into its 12th festival, Beaufort Wine and Food has attracted top wine and culinary talent to showcase during this years’ five-day festival. Sip and savor your way through this uniquely decadent event.

May

May 2- October 31, 2016, TD Saturday Market presented by Greenville Health System, Greenville, SC www.SaturdayMarketLive.com
The Saturday Market began 13 years ago as a small-scale farmer’s market featuring 17-22 vendors on a side street in downtown Greenville. Since then, it has grown into a signature event with over 70 vendors on the city’s Main Street. The open-air market runs every Saturday morning, May through October. Each week between 2,000-3,000 shoppers attend the TD Saturday Market for its wide variety of locally grown fresh produce, gourmet foods, fresh-cut flowers and artisan goods. The market also offers live music, cooking demonstrations, and educational kids activities. Other promotional features of the market include: Booth with a Cause—a weekly space for local community-based organizations, Penske Touch-a-Truck Day—a free event for children of all ages to climb, sit and play on a variety of trucks and Autumn Harvest—offering seasonal produce, a costume contest and trick-or-treating.

May 5-7, 2016, Mayberry Comes to Westminster, West Union, SC, www.MayberryWestminster.com
Since 1960, folks have laughed along while watching “The Andy Griffith Show.” Still in syndication after 55 years, the show crosses all generations with its humor and great life lessons. There are thousands of Mayberry fans in the southeast. In 2011, the City of Westminster, South Carolina, made a proclamation to become “The Town of Mayberry” for three days during the first week of May, whereby the city closes off its historic Main Street for various vendor booths and live music. As the crowds convene, several of the Mayberry tribute artists (look-a-likes) mingle in with them. This includes Barnie (who carries his single bullet and writes citations to everyone that crosses his path), Floyd (who cuts hair in the old fashioned barber shop), Ernest T (who carries a bag full of sponge rocks and throws them at folks), Gomer, Otis, Charlene and many others. As they play their roles on the streets, they also take time to stop and have their photos taken with fans.  Also, this Mayberry inspired event includes: two parades, a car show, “Opie” look-a-like contest, live music, arts and crafts, food vendors, whistling contest to the show’s theme song, Aunt Bee’s fried chicken picnic and pickle contest. This is an event no Andy Griffith fan can miss!

May 5-8, 2016, Wilmington Wine and Food Festival, Wilmington, NC, www.WilmingtonWineAndFood.com
Hosted on the grounds of the historic Bellamy Mansion in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, this four-day festival brings together the Cape Fear region’s top chefs with notable winemakers from around the world. The weekend has many epicurean events for attendees including a Kentucky Derby themed cocktail party, local food trucks, a Corks & Forks Grand Tasting (offering hundreds of wines and samples of local fare), wine dinners, seminars and much more. The festival proceeds benefit local animal non-profits and the Bellamy Mansion museum. New this year, enjoy a VIP evening on Thursday night with an exclusive meet and greet with guest chefs from throughout North Carolina and winemakers from around the world.

May 6-8, 2016, International Dogwood Festival, Winchester, TN, www.WinchesterDogwoodFestival.com
Nestled on the shores of Tims Ford Lake, Winchester, Tennessee hosts three days of live entertainment, art & crafts, a parade, KidZone, a Car Show, and much more for the whole family. The International Dogwood Festival is a tradition for families all over the region and even across the country, honoring the nursery industry. This year Grammy Award Winner Mike Faris will headline the entertainment on Friday night. Enjoy a signature plant auction, street performers, a corn hole tournament, and food vendors to fit anyone’s appetite at the International Dogwood Festival.

May 6-7, 2016, Main Street JazzFest 2016, Murfreesboro, TN, www.MainStreetJazzFest.net
JazzFest is a weekend of fun and cool contemporary jazz featuring family entertainment. Enjoy unique vendors, delicious food and of course…great live music! JazzFest is where the best of local, regional, and nationally known jazz artists converge in the shadow of the historic Rutherford County Courthouse in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This free festival also features delicious food and beverages, a dedicated children’s area and Jazz After Dark.

May 6-7, 2016, Market Street Festival, Columbus, MS, www.MarketStreetFestival.com
The Market Street Festival began in 1996 and has become the largest community festival in Lowndes County. Taking place in historic downtown Columbus, this diverse, quality event is celebrating its 21st year. Around 40,000 guests gather each year to enjoy this two-day festival, which has over 225 arts and crafts vendors, 30 food vendors and dozens of special activities for the entire family. Market Street Festival also feature four entertainment stages showcasing over 20 musical acts throughout the weekend, a car show, tractor display, children’s area, inflatables, high-powered swings, pony rides, a petting zoo, train rides and more. Don’t miss the kick-off concert Friday night, located on the beautiful Columbus Riverwalk.

May 7, 2016, 9th Annual AV Mill Outlet Beaufort National BoatBuilding Challenge, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortChallenge.com
The traditions of spring will soon be arriving in Beaufort once again, with the Beaufort BoatBuilding Challenge. At the starting whistle, eighteen two-person teams go at it full speed to build a 12-foot Carolina Bateau rowing skiff in less than four hours.  But speed must be accompanied by craftsmanship and seaworthiness for a team to be a winner. The rowing race inevitably packs the Boardwalk as participants demonstrate their rowing ability (sometimes swimming ability!) in their newly crafted vessels.  The top three teams will receive cash prizes and be named the winners of the Beaufort Challenge and also qualify for the national championship. Since its inception, the Challenge has grown to become one of the largest crowd draws on the Beaufort Waterfront. Held simultaneously with the N.C. Maritime Museum’s Wooden Boat Show, Beaufort is flooded with boat enthusiasts and spectators.

May 7-8, 2016, Chastain Spring Arts and Craft Festival, Atlanta, GA, www.AFFPS.com, www.ChastainParkArtsFestival.com
This regional classic has it all: arts, crafts, indulgences and flora. Traditionally, this Festival falls on Mother’s Day weekend and each year, they pull out all the stops to honor Mom. Considered the #1 Mother’s Day event in Metro Atlanta, the Chastain Spring Arts and Craft Festival is a two-day outdoor event with an emphasis on the visual arts and family fun, located in the largest public park in Fulton County. This 6th annual event will feature over 175 painters, photographers, sculptors, leather and metal craftspeople, glass blowers, jewelers and more. The Festival will also offer artist demonstrations, live acoustic music, a fantastic children’s play area plus festival foods and beverages with healthy alternatives.

May 7-8, 2016, Cotton Pickin’ Fair, Gay, GA, www.CPFair.org
Return to 1910, where the Farmhouse, the Cotton Gin, and the Cotton Warehouse form a unique backdrop for a great day of 21st century fun.  The Cotton Pickin’ Fair is Georgia’s original AgriTourism Event that began in 1972. Since then it has developed loyal patrons in the tens of thousands. The Cotton Pickin’ Fair in Gay, Georgia is has a variety of skilled artisans and antique specialists, sharing remnants of farm life in days gone by.  New talent keeps the festival fresh and interesting while returning artists welcome loyal customers seeking to add to individual collections.

May 7, 2016, 42nd Annual Wooden Boat Show, Beaufort, NC, NCMaritimeMuseums.com/beaufort/annual-wooden-boat-show
Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or prefer to keep your feet on dry land, the 42nd Annual Wooden Boat Show has activities for all ages. The Carolina Maritime Model Expo features over 50 model boats and takes place on the Beaufort waterfront at the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Families can team up to test their skills in sailing radio-controlled model boats. Youngsters can take part in Maritime games and crafts in the Wooden Boat Kids area. Enjoy traditional skills demonstrations & displays, educational activities, historic vessels, boat models, sailboat races.

May 12, 2016, Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival, Gatlinburg, TN, www.Gatlinburg.com/beans
Gatlinburg will celebrate its Appalachian culinary past during its Bean and Cornbread Festival. This event features a beans and cornbread cook-off, foot-stompin’ Smoky Mountain Music and lots of beans and cornbread for tasting! New this year is the addition of antique engines and strolling musicians playing old timey Appalachian music. The Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival has been featured on Great American Country Channels Top 20 Countdown, it was also named by the ABA as one of the Top 100 upcoming events for 2016.

May 13-15, 2016, Artisphere, Greenville, SC, www.Artisphere.org
Artisphere is committed to celebrating the arts and Greenville’s rich international and multicultural flair by providing a high-quality event that attracts, entertains, educates, inspires and enriches a diverse audience and thus brings the community together through the arts. Artisphere features visual, performing and culinary artists. You won’t want to miss Artisphere’s vast range of live music, dancers, cooking demonstrations and more. Artisphere’s Culinary Arts Café brings a wide variety of local restaurants and their mouth-watering cuisine. This festival also includes a Kidsphere, Gala, Silent Auction Gallery and Wine & Craft Beer experience.

May 19-22, 2016, Chesapeake Jubilee, Chesapeake, VA, www.ChesapeakeJubilee.org
The Chesapeake Jubilee offers one of the largest varieties of carnival rides and games east of the Mississippi! Renowned for its shrimp feast, 4-H livestock sale, crafts and a KCBS-certified BBQ competition, this event offers fun for everyone. The Chesapeake Jubilee began as a 20th birthday celebration for the city in 1983. The party was so fun—they decided to make it an annual occasion. This four-day event features local bands and national artists on three stages, rides, hog calling, jugglers, mimes, cloggers, pony rides, petting zoo and Corn Hole contests. Don’t miss the fireworks celebration!

May 20-21, 2016, SoulStock, Inc., Decatur, AL, www.SoulStock.com
SoulStock is an annual free Christian music festival in its 18th year. Sponsored by local churches, businesses and individuals, SoulStock offers days of great music in this wonderful family-friendly event. Enjoy top and up and coming artists like: For King and Country, Unspoken and Noah Cleveland. Sadie Robertson from Duck Dynasty will be speaking at this year’s concert. Bring your family and friends, your youth group or your senior group—SoulStock is a worship event that everyone can enjoy!

May 20-21, 2016, University of North Alabama Front Porch Storytelling Festival, Florence, AL, www.UNA.edu/storytelling
The University of North Alabama established the UNA Front Porch Storytelling Festival for the purpose of promoting the arts and humanities. The festival consists of two days filled with performances by a selection of world-class storytellers. This UNA event has become a tradition filled with laughter and one-of-a-kind memories. This year, professional storytellers as well as musicians are sure to captivate every guest. Come embark on a journey to different times and relax and reminisce in the good old days.

May 20-21, 2016, Sevierville’s Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass, Sevierville, TN, www.BloominBBQ.com
Sevierville’s Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass is a family-oriented event celebrating the beauty of spring, championship BBQ and world-class bluegrass music. The Blush’s Best TN State Championship Cook-Off brings the nation’s best BBQ cook teams to town, while five stages and 40+ live shows highlight the biggest names in bluegrass and up and coming entertainers. The Mountain Soul Vocal Competition, honoring the songwriting of Dolly Parton, also takes place, as well as a late night bluegrass jam open to all musicians. Enjoy delicious BBQ, festival foods, crafts, kids’ activities and more.

May 21-May 22, 2016, Trail of Honor, Jackson, MS, www.TrailOfHonor.org
The Trail of Honor is a living history tribute to America’s Veterans—past, present and future. This Mississippi event started in 2003 and has grown into a nationally recognized event staffed by almost 400 living historians and volunteers. Over 35,000 visitors were in attendance in 2015, which was the Thirteenth anniversary of the Trail of Honor event. Visitors to this military and Veterans celebration enjoy historically accurate demonstrations of military life from America’s storied past. Re-enactments span a vast period of time from the French and Indian War to the present ongoing War On Terrorism. Living historians display the uniforms, weapons, ammunition, rations and equipment of the era they represent. The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation has again committed their entire fleet of air power to the event in 2016. They also plan to have multiple aircraft available several days prior to the event to promote the Trail.

May 21, 2016, Catfish Festival, Scottsboro, AL, www.Scottsboro.com
The Catfish Festival is a family-friendly event in Scottsboro, Alabama. The Small Business Council purchases one thousand pounds of catfish, which are placed in a net at Jackson County Park. Events include a car, truck, motorcycle, antique tractor show, pet parade, free kids area, craft vendors, food vendors, entertainment and gospel groups on the lake.

May 26-29, 2016, Mudbug Madness Festival, Shreveport, LA, www.MudBugMadness.com
Mudbug Madness celebrates Louisiana’s Cajun heritage with a crawfish boil for thousands. But there’s more to celebrate than crawfish—enjoy mouth-watering Creole food while enjoying Grammy-winning Cajun and Zydeco music on the Madness Stage. The absolute best in local and regional talent perform country, rock, soul and blues on the Swamp Stage, which is surrounded by artists selling their wares. Painters, sculptors, jewelers, photographers and more bring their award-winning art to sell to Mudbug patrons. A large children’s area, raucous contests, a Mardi Gras style parade and Cajun dance lessons, round out the fun!

May 28-29, 2016, Garden Jubilee, Hendersonville, NC, www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org
Garden Jubilee highlights 265 vendor spaces lining Main Street. Learn tips and tricks from regional gardening experts located throughout the festival. Local and regional nurseries will be selling thousands of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and hard to find plants on every block of the festival. Crafters create distinctive garden art to enhance the beauty of your yard. There will be handmade lawn furniture, jewelry, garden tools, yard art, planters, wind chimes, birdhouses, as well as soaps and pottery.

June

June 1-4, 2016, Fiesta Days Celebration and Boat Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.FiestaOfFiveFlags.org
The Fiesta of Five Flags is an annual celebration of the founding of Pensacola. In 1559, Spanish Conquistador, Don Tristan de Luna, established Pensacola as the first European settlement in the United States. Since that time five different flags have flown over the City: Spanish, French, British, Confederate, and American. This 10-day festival is one of the largest heritage festivals in the State of Florida. With events and live music designed to appeal to all ages, you will see why this is one of Florida’s longest running festivals!

June 1-30, 2016, Festival of Flowers, Greenwood, SC, www.SCFestivalOfFlowers.org
Celebrate the beginning of summer and enjoy traditional southern hospitality at the 2016 South Carolina Festival of Flowers in beautiful Greenwood, South Carolina. The Festival offers a full schedule of more than 20 activities the whole family can enjoy. View the works of South Carolina’s top artists and craftsmen at the Arts and Crafts Show. Dance to live bluegrass music or enjoy a nice leisurely strolling through one of the beautiful gardens on tour. Garden tours are in five lavish homes, as well as community gardens supported by volunteers.

June 2-June 4, 2016, Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival, Fort Walton Beach, FL, www.BillyBowlegsFestival.com
Ahoy mateys! What started out as a water skiing festival has turned into one of the nation’s largest and most popular pirate festivals! People come by land, sea and air to join in Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. This family-friendly event includes treasure hunts, parades, fireworks displays, athletic events and a “capturing” of the city as the Jolly Roger is hoisted. Reigning pirate Billy Bowleg’s identity remains a secret during the three-day event until the unmasking ceremony the evening of the Grand Ball.

June 2- July 21, 2016, Sounds of Summer, Columbus, MS, www.ColumbusMainStreet.com
Main Street Columbus and the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce are partnering to provide the Sounds of Summer Concert Series, a free bi-weekly event in beautiful downtown Columbus on Thursdays in June and July. Sounds of Summer began in 2008 and is held on the banks of the Tennessee Tombigbee River at the Columbus Riverwalk Park. Every other Thursday evening, thousands gather at this popular outdoor concert series to enjoy local musicians, cold beverages, great food and kid’s activities. Grab a lawn chair, family and friends and kick back to the sweet sounds of summer.

June 2-4, 2016, Haleyville 9-1-1 Festival, Haleyville, AL, www.HaleyvilleChamber.org
Each year the Haleyville Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Haleyville host a festival to celebrate its heritage and honor law enforcement and first responders. The 9-1-1 Festival celebrates the history making moment of the very first 911 emergency call in 1968. The groundbreaking call paved the way to save countless lives and dispatch emergency assistance to anyone in need. This family-friendly event includes live music, kid’s activities, street vendors, a parade, classic car & antique tractor show and much more.

June 3-5, 2016, Blackbeard Pirate Festival, Hampton, VA, www.BlackBeardFestival.com
Named one of the Top Five Pirate Festivals in North America by USA Today Travel, the annual Hampton Blackbeard Festival celebrates Hampton’s maritime heritage and relationship with the notorious menace, Blackbeard—a.k.a. Edward Teach. Living history and family fun go hand-in-hand as Hampton reenacts and celebrates the demise of Blackbeard, one of the fiercest pirates ever known. Immerse yourself in the early 1700’s in Hampton with live entertainment, pirate encampment, children’s activities, sea battles, fireworks and more.

June 4, 2016, 87th Annual Blessing of the Fleet and Fais-Do-Do, www.BiloxiBlessing.com
To celebrate the heritage of Biloxi and its plentiful seafood industry, the Blessing of the Fleet and Fais-Do-Do has become a staple in South Mississippi. Due to strong ties to the Catholic faith by the groups who migrated to the area to establish this thriving industry, the Blessing of the Fleet marks the beginning of the fishing season for shrimp fisherman. Prior to the Blessing of the Fleet, the Fais-Do-Do includes dancing, incredible food, coronation of Shrimp King and Queen and more.

June 4, 2016, Taste of Parkersburg, Parkersburg, WV, www.TasteOfParkersburg.com
Savor the flavor of Parkersburg, West Virginia with food, wine, entertainment and artisans. Located in the heart of historical downtown Parkersbug, Taste of Parkersburg showcases an eclectic mix of arts and culture. Many guests come for the delicious wines. Others come for the amazing food. And the rest? They come for the party.  Come sample over 40 wines, taste foods from over a dozen restaurants, all while listening to live music under a white canopy of twinkling lights.

June 2-5, 2016, Tupelo Elvis Festival, Tupelo, MS, www.TupeloElvisFestival.com
The Tupelo Elvis Festival is a celebration of Tupelos’ native son, Elvis Presley. The internationally attended festival is licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprises and is a sanctioned prelim for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition. The festival not only celebrates Elvis music and dance moves, with more than twenty acts, it also celebrates his legacy and generosity with concerts featuring mainstream headliners, such as country artist, Montgomery Gentry. There’s also an Elvis look-a-like, carnival, 5K, food vendors, a pet parade and pageant, which benefits the local Tupelo Lee Humane Society. Come see what makes the Tupelo Elvis Festival one of “The Best Southern Events” by USA Today.

June 9-12, 2016, Festival of the Bluegrass, Lexington, KY, www.FestivalOfTheBluegrass.com
The Festival of the Bluegrass is a traditional Bluegrass Music Festival in the heart of Bluegrass Country. Located at the Kentucky Horse Park, the festival has educational workshops, fantastic food, craft vendors and special kid activities. After listening to professional Bluegrass artists, kids can learn to play some Bluegrass themselves at the Kentucky Bluegrass Music Camp. This family-friendly event has something for everyone!

June 9-11, 2016, Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day, www.GenealogyJamboree.us
History comes alive in the streets of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee at the Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day. This unique three-day event combines genealogy with period re-enactors and craftsmen in a historic setting. There will be Family Surname Tents and historical societies—many will have their books on genealogy research for sale. There will be lectures by nationally known speakers and story-telling for everyone’s enjoyment. Craftsmen and women will demonstrate their pioneer crafts from the Revolutionary War and Civil War periods. You can even sign up to play checkers with General Robert E. Lee or President Abraham Lincoln!

June 10-12, 2016, Blairsville-Scottish Festival and Highland Games, Blairsville, GA, www.BlairsvilleScottishFestival.com
The Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games will ROCK the town for the 12th year with everything Scottish. With Scottish blood running deep in the mountains of Appalachia, the Blairsville Scottish Festival attracts thousands of revelers. Each year the festival kicks off with a Kilted Golf Classic, a Kilted 5k Run and a Ceilidh-On-The-Sqaure that is fun for the whole family. All weekend long you can enjoy: visiting Scottish Clans, Societies, hear Pipe & Drum Bands, see the Parade of Tartans, a Mini Cooper Car Parade, dancers, musicians, Highland animals, vendors, Scottish food, kid’s games and heritage searches. The Kirkin’ of the Tartans highlights Sunday’s entertainment, along with clan contests and so much more.

June 10-12, 2016, North American Soccer Championships, www.SandSoccer.com
The NASSC continues as the premier beach soccer single weekend festivals in the United States. The venue offers sand recreation from novice to the highest levels of amateur competition for youth ages 8-19, adults and professional competition. Approximately 950 soccer teams in over 80 divisions including college, military, corporate coed, professional men’s competitions (The U.S. Open) with participants from 20 states as well as international teams attend. Other beach sports entering the event include wrestling, coed football, lacrosse and field hockey—all on the sand. Throughout the day, this festival will feature food and vending tents, Miss Virginia, international celebrities and local media personalities. The entertainment continues into the evening with street performers and fireworks.

June 10-July 30, 2016, Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales, Gatlinburg, TN, www.Gatlinburg.com/events
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales is a summer-long street performance festival featuring costumed musical performers, storytellers and artisans portraying characters from time periods as far back as the 1800s. This popular seven-week event provides guests with an interactive, educational and entertaining experience the whole family can enjoy. The collection of personalities and performers arrive nightly at 6 p.m. in the center of town. Visitors witness a magical transformation of sidewalk to stage as the characters disperse along the downtown Parkway for an evening of entertainment and storytelling.

June 11, 2016, Hattiesburg Craft Beer Festival, www.HattiesburgCraftBeerFest.com
Visit Hattiesburg—Mississippi’s home for craft beer. The music is hot, the food is soulful and the beer is of the finest craft. From the city that pioneered the Mississippi Brew Trail and touts the highest number of craft beer bars in the state, the region’s premier Craft Beer Festival is produced. Their craft beer is stout, with just the right amount of head, and everyone wants to be a part of it! The festival is a great way for craft beer enthusiasts to collect, connect and celebrate this cherished craft. Expect more than 100 beers from over 25 local, regional and national breweries, alongside good eats and live entertainment.

June 15-18, 2016, W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival, Henderson, KY, www.HandyBlues.org
The W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival has grown to be one the largest free music festivals in the nation, drawing guests from almost every state and many countries. Music at the festival includes a wide variety of blues styles, from gritty delta blues, to smooth soul, to big horn bands. In addition to great live music from blues and Zydeco bands, there is savory food ranging from java shakes and barbecue to red beans and rice. The event is a celebration of the life and legacy of Henderson resident and “Father of the Blues,” William Christopher Handy.

June 17-26, 2016, FestivALL Charleston, Charleston, WV, www.FestivALLCharleston.com
FestivALL is a ten-day, multi arts, citywide festival with over 130 events and 360 performances. The festival represents many genres of art and family fun, including visual and performance art, dance, theatre, music, food and more. The city becomes a work of art with international, national, regional and local artists as they perform and exhibit their work everywhere from public outdoor spaces to grand theater halls. FestivALL attracts around 50,000 visitors each year. The mixture of both fine and pop art means there is something for everyone to enjoy.

June 18, 2016, Barbarian Challenge, Gadsden, AL, www.BarbarianChallenge.com
The Barbarian Challenge is a 5.5 mile obstacle run which includes more than 20 obstacles at Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden, Alabama. The course consists of nature trails, hills and rough terrain. It also includes a scenic trip through the Black Creek Gorge and beautiful view of Noccalula Falls. Participants can run as individuals or as a “tribe” of 8 to 15 teammates. Awards are given to the top teams and individuals as well as age group awards for both men and women. This race is meant to test you, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be the Barbarian Challenge. This is the hardest race that you will ever love!

June 17-18, 2016, The NC Blueberry Festival, Burgaw, NC, www.NCBlueberryFestival.com
The Blueberry Festival provides an opportunity for people to enjoy two days of family entertainment while experiencing the southern hospitality of a small town—Burgaw, North Carolina. More than 30,000 people attend this annual event dedicated to North Carolina’s finest fruit—the blueberry. The Festival is a great source of local pride, with the entire community involved in promoting Burgaw to the world in its finest shade of blue. Enjoy over 20 events including live entertainment, a car show, street fair, recipe contest, barbeque cook-off, a 5K run, special exhibits, and much more. At the North Carolina Blueberry Festival, you’ll find something for the entire family.

June 26, 2016, Perry Independence and Freedom Fireworks, Perry, GA, www.PerryGAChamber.com/events
The Perry Chamber of Commerce Independence Parade and Freedom Fireworks was created to help celebrate Perry’s Patriotic Pride. The Independence Parade starts at 6 p.m. in beautiful, historic downtown Perry and features hometown heroes driven in trams by City employees. Military Honor Guard, Troup Formations, Dignitaries, beauty queens, colorful floats and an array of businesses dress up in patriotic attire and make up this 80+-unit parade. The community and visitors line the streets waving flags as we all celebrate being American and the red, white and blue. The parade marches its way to the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter where the Freedom Fireworks celebration is held. Bring blankets, footballs and Frisbees for a relaxing