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
May 4-14, 2017, Contraband Days, Louisiana Pirate Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
When you ask someone about festivals in Southwest Louisiana, the Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival usually is the first to come to mind. Unique to Lake Charles, the annual festival celebrates the legend of pirate Jean Lafitte. The story goes that pirate Jean Lafitte docked his boat right on the sandy shore of Lake Charles and buried his treasure somewhere along its banks. Venture down to the newly remodeled Lake Charles Civic Center seawall and visit with the modern-day “pirates,” in full regalia on boats out on the lake. On the first night, witness the cannon fire as the citizens of Lake Charles try to defend the seawall only to have the pirates capture the mayor, put him on trial and force him to walk the plank. Pirates of all ages are encouraged to come out during the two-week long festival with carnival rides, games and live music. Past performers include Grammy Award Winners Terrance Simien and Jo-El Sonnier and country super-star Josh Turner. For some good eats, head on over to the delicious Barbecue Cook-Off. Try your hand at the Firefighter Combat Challenge. You can also participate in activities from arm wrestling, to cycling the Tour Lafitte, running the 5-miler, or building your very own pirogue boat. Throw on your best eye patch and enter one of the costume contests or join in one of the pirate parades. The festival closes with spectacular fireworks over beautiful Lake Charles.
May 4, 2017, Taste of Alpharetta, Alpharetta, GA, http://www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com/what-to-do/taste-of-alpharetta/
The Taste of Alpharetta is an event visitors love and locals can’t get enough of. Dining in downtown Alpharetta at 60+ restaurants from around the local area has been a family tradition for 27 years. Attendees sample delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts from the top chefs in town. Foodies in attendance will enjoy culinary demonstrations bites that are sure to please every palate. The Music Stage will have harmonic rock/folk/R&B bands. A separate Culinary Competitions Stage will pair top area chefs against one another in five categories: Best Appetizer/Salad, Best Fast Casual, Best Fine Dining, Best Presentation and Best Dessert.
May 5-6, 2017, Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival, Meridian, MS, www.JimmieRodgersMusicFestival.com
The Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival is a showcase for contemporary artists of the Americana roots music genres of folk, bluegrass, country, gospel and blues. The festival was founded in 1953 when Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb spearheaded an effort to pay tribute to Jimmie Rodgers on the 20th anniversary of his death. Elvis Presley, Faith Hill and Merle Haggard have all appeared at the festival. Over the last two years, the show has featured performances by Jason Isbell, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Lone Bellow, Keller Williams, Lucinda Williams and many others. Held the first weekend of May in downtown Meridian on City Hall Green, the festival features two stages of music, a food court with Southern delicacies, a talent show and classic car show.
May 5-6, 2017, 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 the first weekend in May each year, this diverse, quality event celebrates its 22nd year in 2017. Between 38,000-40,000 gatherers enjoy the two-day festival each year. Peruse over 225 arts and crafts vendors, 30 food vendors and dozens of special events and activities for the entire family. Market Street Festival also features four entertainment stages showcasing over 20 musical acts throughout the weekend, a car show, tractor display, a hands-on children’s area, inflatables, high powered wings, pony rides, a petting zoo, train rides and various other activities for all ages and demographics. The festival kicks off on Friday evening with ‘Market Street After Dark’, a concert held on the banks of Tennessee Tombigbee River at the beautiful Columbus Riverwalk. The Riverwalk, which is within walking distance to downtown, is the perfect venue for the Friday night festival. There will be food and drink vendors, musical entertainment and “Mother Goose,” a local hero. Saturday morning starts bright and early with a 5k Fun Run and the Columbus Riverwalk and WCBI-TV hosts a “Crank It Up” car giveaway later in the day.
May 6-7, 2017, The Cotton Pickin’ Fair, Gay, GA, www.CPFair.org
The Cotton Pickin’ Fair is Georgia’s original AgriTourism event. It began back in 1972 on a 188-year-old farm as a single family’s community economic development project. A declining farm economy, a very poor cattle market and the opening of I-185 from LaGrange to Columbus, gave birth to an idea that would supplement farm income and keep the town of Gay in the public eye as an upscale antique center. Today, over two million visitors have enjoyed the work of the best artisans, antique specialists and craftsmen from across the U.S. and Canada every May and October. This May, enjoy a tour of the historic Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge. Freed Slave and famous builder Horace King constructed the bridge in 1840. It is the oldest and longest wooded covered bridge in Georgia. Bring home treasures to cherish, both antiques and memories, at The Cotton Pickin’ Fair.
May 6-7, 2017, Main Street Jazzfest 2017, Murfreesboro, TN, www.MainStreetJazzFest.net
Main Street JazzFest is a free, family-friendly, two-day music festival held in Murfreesboro’s historic downtown public square. The main stage performances on Saturday range from local jazz talent to well-known regional artists and exceptional national headline performances. On Friday evening, JazzFest showcases all nine high school jazz bands in Rutherford County on the Main Stage. JazzFest gives many high school students an exciting and highly anticipated opportunity to perform in front of a live audience. Large crowds attend Friday’s performances and return Saturday for more music and fun. On Saturday, many area middle schools perform along with schools from across the state. There’s also a Jazz Workshop featuring several professional jazz artists, facilitated by MTSU faculty. JazzFest also features a special children’s area known as Kids Alley and great food.
May 6, 2017, Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival, Smithfield, NC, www.HamAndYam.com
The Ham & Yam Festival began in 1985 as a challenge from seven country ham producers in Johnston County, North Carolina to the ham producers of Smithfield, Virginia. As Johnston County is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, it is fitting for the festival to honor the agricultural heritage of the area. The festival now features a barbecue cook-off, which attracts great cooks from throughout the region to compete for cash prizes. Attendees can find many varieties of hams and yams at the festival—barbeque from the cook-off, country ham biscuits, hot dogs, ham tortas, sweet potato cheesecake pies, sweet potato ice cream, sweet potato lemonade and smoothies, sweet potato funnel cakes, baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato cupcakes, sweet potato fries and more! The festival hosts the “What’s the Yam Thing?” the contest is a favorite for school-aged children given the opportunity to turn sweet potatoes into works of arts. Visitors wander through more than 175 booths in the festival area where local nonprofits raise money for their organizations and vendors sell arts and crafts and a variety of other merchandise. The family-friendly event keeps crowds entertained with performances on three stages, inflatables, children’s games, pig races and more.
May 6, 2017, 43rd Annual Wooden Boat Show, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortWoodenBoatShow.com
Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or prefer to keep your feet on dry land, the 43rd Annual Wooden Boat Show has activities for all ages. This free event celebrates the art of North Carolina traditional wooden boatbuilding and the sport of boat racing. Dozens of handcrafted wooden boats will be on display, along with nautical demonstrations, and activities for children. Set sail in a traditional wooden boat, discover the hidden secret behind ships-in-a-bottle, or practice your boating skills in the Virtual Trainer. Don’t forget to stop by the vendors and of course visit all of our wooden boat exhibits. Wooden boat owners come from all over to be a part of the Beaufort Wooden Boat Show.
May 11, 2017, Gatlinburg Beans n’ Cornbread Festival, Gatlinburg, TN, https://www.Gatlinburg.com/event/gatlinburg-beans-and-cornbread-festival/
Gatlinburg celebrates its Appalachian culinary past with the Gatlinburg Beans n’ Cornbread Festival. This scrumptious event features a Beans and Cornbread Cook-Off, antique engines and lots of beans and cornbread for the tasting. Area restaurants, businesses and caterers will prepare traditional and original beans and cornbread recipes for tasting while vying for top honors in the cook-off. This evening festival is from 5:00 p.m.- 8 p.m. on the Parkway. The festival is free, attendees can purchase a spoon for $10 and sample recipes from all booths while supplies last. Children ages 7 and under can sample for free.
May 12-14, 2017, Artisphere, Greenville, SC, http://Artisphere.org/
Artisphere’s three-day spring event includes indoor and outdoor performances and visual arts exhibitions throughout downtown Greenville. Artisphere makes the arts accessible to all Greenville residents and visitors showcase the community’s dynamic and diverse cultural scene. Artisphere consistently receives national accolades: ranking #17 out of the “100 Best Art Shows” in the country by Sunshine Artists Magazine, landing in the Top 10 Fine Arts and Craft festival by the Art Fair Sourcebook and placing #3 out of 20 finalists in USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Art Festival. This year look for Artist Row, which will consists of over 120 artists selling original works. Swing by Culinary Arts Café Stage, featuring local and regional singer/songwriters and jazz musicians. Take a seat at the Artisphere Main Stage, showcasing nationally known performers alongside local performing groups and don’t miss the Art Lab, which will have local artists demonstrating craft activities such as bookmaking, pottery, painting and weaving. Come see why more than 95,000 people attended Artisphere last year.
May 13, 2017, 8th Annual Live Oak Arts Festival, Pascagoula, MS, https://www.facebook.com/loafpascagoula/
The 2017 Live Oak Arts Festival will be a true homecoming for coastal residents and a grand welcoming to visitors. The one-day festival features live music with a regional headliner. The 2017 festival will return to its roots, literally and artistically, inviting artists to celebrate the historic oaks that adorn Pascagoula. The fest will offer crowd favorites, such as the antique car show and new elements with a historical tour of homes and oaks to be offered throughout the historic district. Expect fun for the whole family and great shopping from local artists and coastal businesses.
May 18-21, 2017, Chesapeake Jubilee, Chesapeake, VA, https://ChesapeakeJubilee.org/
The Chesapeake Jubilee is a four-day event featuring local bands and national artists on two stages, an exquisite variety of foods to satisfy everyone’s tastes and lots of quality affordable family fun. World-class entertainment, carnival rides and amazing fireworks abound at this springtime celebration. Enjoy a diverse arts and crafts show, jugglers, mimes, cloggers, a Kid’s Korner and the world famous Chesapeake Jubilee-Kansas City Barbeque Society’s BBQ Cook-Off. Top entertainers have included Willie Nelson, Trace Adkins, Chuck Berry, The Commodores, Conway Twitty, Travis Tritt among many others.
May 18, 26, June 2, 9, 2017, Downtown At Sundown—Outdoor Concert Series, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
Downtown at Sundown is an annual outdoor music and art event occurring mid May to early June over the course of four consecutive Friday evenings. Each concert features different local or regional artists performing favorite music genres of the region such as Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp-Pop and Classic Rock. The event also offers food and beverage booths, tabletop galleries, art sales and activities for the kids. The event was designed to attract business people and tourists downtown for entertainment in the ongoing revitalization of the area. The estimated number of attendees is more than 2,000 each week. In addition to the heightening awareness and appreciation of the artistic and musical talent in Southwest Louisiana, the event has also contributed greatly to attracting residents, businesses and tourists to an area undergoing revitalization.
May 18-20, 2017, Starks Mayhaw Festival, Starks, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.com
Like Peanut butter and Jelly, the Starks Mayhaw Festival and spring go hand in hand. And speaking of jelly, this is the place for it! Mayhaw jelly, Mayhaw butter, Mayjaw berries and more—the Starks Mayhaw Festival has it all. Festivalgoers can try their hand at jelly-making or try to catch a glimpse of the Mayhaw Queen and her court. With carnival rides, live music, delicious Southern food and enough berries and jelly to go around, the whole family will have something to celebrate. The festival kicks off Thursday afternoon at the corners of Highways 109 and 12. On Saturday morning, early birds will be able to start their morning off right with hot biscuits, homemade Mayhaw jelly and freshly churned butter. Making the festival even sweeter—free admission!
May 20-21, 2017, Trail of Honor, Jackson, MS, www.TrailOfHonor.org
The Trail of Honor is a living history tribute to America’s Veterans, past and present. This Mississippi-based event began 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 2016, which was the fourteenth anniversary of the Trail of Honor event. Visitors to this Military/Veteran’s 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 in the mid-1700’s to the recent and ongoing War on Terrorism. Living historians display the uniforms, weapons, ammunition, rations and equipment of the era they represent. Army Aviation Heritage Foundation has again committed their entire fleet of air power to the event inventory for 2017, which includes: 5 Cobra Gunships, 4 Huey’s and the “Birdog” which is a fixed-wing aircraft.
May 21-June 3, 2017, Fiesta Days Celebration and Boat Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.FiestaOfFiveFlags.org
The Fiesta of Five Flags organization was formed to celebrate 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. The Fiesta celebration begins with a light-hearted re-enactment of the surrender of the city to Spanish explore Don Tristan Deluna and is immediately followed by an evening of outdoor musical entertainment.
May 25-29, 2017, Abbey Road on the River, Jeffersonville, IN, (North Louisville) www.AROTR.com
Abbey Road on the River is the largest and longest running Beatles tribute festival in America. It’s a five-day food, art and music festival celebrating The Fab Four. Abbey Road on the River brings together over 60 bands from all around the world and 25,000 attendees, generating an economic impact of approximately $3 million. Held each year over the Memorial Day Weekend, concerts take place on several indoor and outdoor stages. The festival also features films, screenings, lectures by the Beatles’ family members and Beatles’ experts, free guitar lessons and a Beatles merchandise and marketplace for fans to enjoy.
May 26, September 4, 2017, Rock City’s Summer Music Weekends, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/summermusic
Enjoy some of the best toe-tapping old time, blue grass and country music all summer long at Rock City’s Summer Music Weekends. Also try some delicious southern cuisine at Café 7 during Summer Music Weekends. Activities include Walk in Frieda’s Footsteps Tour, making Aunt Frieda’s fire fly jars and some 1930’s Americana all around. Returning this year are the amazing Birds of Prey Shows. Experience these powerful and majestic birds up close. New in 2017, expect new live performers to entertain the crowds.
May 27-29, 2017, Alpharetta Arts Streetfest, Alpharetta, GA, www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com
Each year downtown Alpharetta turns into an art exhibit featuring almost 100 artists from across the U.S. Festival goers can stroll through the outdoor gallery, meet the artists and acquire an original piece of artwork. Artists featured represent a wide variety of mediums including mixed media, photography, pottery, jewelry, textiles, glass, wood, metal and paper art. This much anticipated festival will also feature live music, cultural arts performances, entertaining children’s activities, and a variety festival cuisine.
May 27-28, 2017, Garden Jubilee, Hendersonville, NC, http://www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.com/?s=garden+jubilee
The Annual Garden Jubilee Festival has been the place for one-stop shopping for garden lovers for over 20 years in Downtown Hendersonville. Garden Jubilee is Hendersonville’s premier lawn & garden show, and one of the largest gardening shows in the Western North Carolina. The two-day Festival is held on Saturday, May 27 & Sunday, May 28 of Memorial Day weekend. Garden Jubilee highlights more than 260 vendors’ spaces lining Main Street. Local and regional nurseries will be selling 1000’s 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. If you have a question or need advice about your garden or lawn, you’ve come to the right place. National product representatives from Oldcastle, Stay Green, Scotts, Miracle-Gro, Ortho, Roundup, Cutter, Pennington Lawn & Garden Products, and Hot Shot will be available in their tents giving out free samples and helpful tips. The Lowe’s Kids Clinic located at the Visitors Center will offer fun, free hands-on projects for children ages 4-12, from 10am-4pm both days.
June 1-4, 2017, The Great American Brass Band Festival, Danville, KY, www.GABBF.org
The Brass Band Festival is a free four-day event featuring live world renowned brass music, an Americana style parade, a Saturday night picnic, free children’s activities, a swing dance, quilt show, yoga in the park, a 5K run and New Orleans’ style street party. 2016 was the debut year of the Great American Art Festival featuring local and national artists and a Kids Art Fest. The success in 2016 of the Art Festival ensures it will be returning for 2017. Attendees of the Festival enjoy the small town atmosphere of Danville, Kentucky while listening to live brass music and enjoying a variety of eats and treats from the Food Village. This Brass Band Festival is the only one of its kind in the country and twenty-eight years in, it feels like the feels like the festival is just beginning to hit its brass stride.
June 1-4, 2017, Herndon Festival, Herndon, VA, www.HerndonFestival.net
The 37th annual Herndon Festival, scheduled for June 1-4, 2017 will be held in historic downtown Herndon, Virginia. This time-honored event is a four-day outdoor festival featuring national and regional entertainment on three stages, a carnival, two fireworks displays, Kids Alley with a children’s hands-on art area, arts & crafts show, business expo, 10K/5K races and fitness expo, complimentary shuttle bus service and a wide variety of high quality food vendors. With the volunteer support of 24 organizations and a contribution of more than 1,100 volunteer hours each year, an estimated 80,000 people come to the Town of Herndon to be part of Northern Virginia’s biggest and best free event. The Herndon Festival draws form throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and provides exposure not only for Herndon’s core downtown businesses, but the hotels and restaurants throughout the area.
June 1-30, 2017, SC Festival of Flowers, Greenwood, SC, SCFestivalOfFlowers.org
The award winning South Carolina Festival of Flowers features a blooming good time saluting flowers, families and fun. The Festival was recognized by the America in Bloom organization with an achievement award in floral display last year. The Festival attracted an estimated 85,000 visitors to Greenwood during the month of June and generated an economic impact of $3,355,322. Partnering with local civic and cultural organizations, the festival provides quality family entertainment to the community. More than 20 events take place during the South Carolina Festival of Flowers, creating a month long list of entertainment and activities for families and visitors. Enjoy the main weekend June 2-4, which includes home garden tours, an arts and crafts show and cultural events. The festival celebrates 50 years in 2017. To celebrate, expect anew historical exhibit, “50 Blooming Years” and the Beach Dance featuring Greenwood’s favorite band, The Swingin’ Medallions.
June 1-July 13, 2017, Sounds of Summer, Columbus, MS, www.ColumbusMainStreet.com
Main Street Columbus and the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce will again partner in 2017 to provide the Sounds of Summer Concert Series, a free concert series 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. The picturesque park is a perfect venue for this popular event, with the background of the newly renovated Old Highway 82 Bridge. Every other Thursday evening from 7 to 9 p.m., thousands gather at the popular outdoor concert series to enjoy local musicians, cold beverages, great food, kid’s activities and the company of friends and neighbors. The diverse, quality event continues to grow in popularity each year and has become a vital element of community life for families. This event strives to provide a variety of musical genres to interest all parts of the community. Attendees bring lawn chairs and blankets, in addition to friends and family, to enjoy this free, family-friendly community event.
June 1-4, 2017, Tupelo Elvis Festival, Tupelo, MS, www.TupeloElvisFestival.com
The Tupelo Festival is a four-day festival that celebrates the life, legacy and music of Elvis Presley—Tupelo’s native son. The Tupelo Elvis Festival is the only international festival honoring Elvis Presley in the Southeast, next to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. This internationally attended festival began in 1999 and is one of only 24 festivals within the United States and abroad that is officially licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprise and includes an ultimate Elvis tribute artists contest preliminary competition. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing.
June 2, 3, 9, 20, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and July 2, 3, 9, 10, 2017, The Miracle Worker Play, Tuscumbia, AL, www.HelenKellerBirthPlace.org/miracleworker/helenkellermiracleworker.htm
“The Miracle Worker” play, Alabama’s official outdoor drama continues to inspire and captivate audiences from around the world every June through mid-July since 1961. Williams Gibson’s play dramatizes the efforts of teacher Anne Sullivan to open the world of communication to 7-year-old blind and deaf Helen Keller. The production takes place at the outdoor amphitheater on the grounds of Helen Keller’s birthplace. A self-guided tour of the home is included in play admission, with original furnishings of the Keller family home are intact. Highlights of this home-museum are Miss Keller’s personal mementos, books and gifts from her lifetime of travel and lectures for the betterment of the worlds blind and deaf-blind.
June 3, 2017, Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival, Mt. Pleasant, SC
The highly anticipated Sweetgrass festival celebrates the rich Gullah Geechee cultural heritage and provides the most extensive showcase of sweetgrass baskets in the area. This festival will include an assortment of Gullah Geechee skits, storytelling, folklore music, dance, children performers along with demonstrations and lecture on the history of sweetgrass basket making in the Lowcountry. Enjoy a variety of children and family activities as well as delicious Lowcountry Gulla Geechee foods. *Initially selected as a May event.
June 4, 11, 18 & 25, July 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30, 2017, Ida Cox Music Series, Toccoa, GA, www.IdaCoxMusicSeries.com
The Ida Cox Music Series honors the legacy of famous Taccoan Blues singer, Ida Cox, by bringing quality live entertainment to Historic Downtown Toccoa in June and July. Featuring street music, delicious local food, beverages and a diverse population, the Ida Cox Music Series is a fun and free event. The Ida Cox Music Series spotlights talented local and regional artists and musicians and features a diverse selection of music genres from bluegrass and country, to rock-and-roll, to its namesake’s staple of funk and soul. The Ida Cox Music Series is a free celebration of the talent and dedication the residents of Toccoa have toward furthering entertainment and tourism in Northeast Georgia.
June 5-11, 2017, 21st Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, Biloxi, MS, http://mgcbc.com/
Hundreds of anglers converge on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for this premier sport fishing event. Vessels ply the billfish-rich waters off the coast to compete for more than $1,000,000 in cash and prizes. The week long event features nightly dock parties, captains banquet, a golf outing and live entertainment for spectators at the weigh scales Friday and Saturday evenings. 2017 will include an award that the MGCBC participants have never seen before: a $100,000 cash award for the heaviest swordfish to break the Mississippi State record!
June 8-10, 2017, Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day, Cumberland Gap, TN, www.GenealogyJamboree.us/
In June, history will come alive in the streets of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The Cumberland Gap Tennessee Genealogy and History group hosts the 7th annual Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day. This free, one-of-a-kind event combines genealogy with period re-enactors dressed in costumes. Craftsmen and women demonstrate their pioneer crafts an in historic setting. All these folks will be giving demonstrations and will be available for questions. There will be lectures at the Cumberland Gap Convention Center and in the streets of Cumberland Gap from nationally known speakers such as J. Mark Lowe. Many authors, genealogical and historical societies will have books and genealogy research materials for sale. Come celebrate the mountain heritage and learn about your ancestors and how they would have lived.
June 9-11, 2017, Blairsville-Scottish Festival and Highland Games, Blairsville, GA, www.BlairsvilleScottishFestival.com
The Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games will rock the town for the 14th year with everything Scottish, down by the river in the beautiful Meeks Nature Park. With Scottish blood running deep in the mountains of Appalachia, the Blairsville Scottish Festival will continue to attract revelers from June 9-11. Each year the festival tees off with a Kilted Golf Classic, a Kilted 5k Run and a Ceilidh Concert On The Square that is fun for the whole family. All weekend long you can enjoy visiting Scottish Clans, Societies, hear Pope & Drum Bands, see the Parade of Tartans, a Mini Cooper car parade, dancers, musicians, Highland animals, vendors, Scottish food, kids games and heritage searches. The Kirkin’ of the Tartans highlights Sunday’s entertainment along with the competitions, clan contests and so much more. The Blairsville Scottish Festival, the premier festival in the North Georgia area, places an emphasis on family entertainment all weekend long.
June 9-11, 2017, North American Sand Soccer Championships, Virginia Beach, VA, www.SandSoccer.com
The North American Sand Soccer Championships is a premier sand soccer event that is in its 24th year of competition. This is a charity event hosted by the Roads Soccer Council to generate funds for the continued development of a private, 75-acre soccer complex serving athletes of all ages and skill level in Virginia Beach. The event draws in 10,000 players from recreational to professionals and thousands more fans, spectators, vendors, media and sponsors. Participants plan and are eager to return year-to-year while spectators find the festival to be an awesome kick-off to summer with its lively atmosphere. Accepted teams arrive and register Friday evening at the Convention Center. Earlier Friday, Pro/Am competition has already begun in the sand stadium nearby. On Saturday and Sunday, across 19 city blocks on the sand, over 62 additional fields are spread north and south where teams of all ages compete. In addition to soccer, participants and spectators will enjoy sidekick sports such as coed flag football, beach lacrosse, Knockerball, Spikeball, All-volley football and wrestling. Stop by the numerous vendors and keep your eyes peeled for beach soccer and celebrity sightings.
Jun 9-July 29, 2017, Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales, Gatlinburg, TN, https://www.Gatlinburg.com/event/smoky-mountain-tunes-tales/
Tunes & Tales is a summer-long street performance event featuring costumed musical performers, storytellers and artisans portraying characters from time periods as far back as 1800. This year, Gatlinburg will present the 12th season of Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales daily in downtown Gatlinburg. This popular seven-week event truly highlights one of Gatlinburg’s greatest assets in the walkability of the city and provides guests with an interactive, educational and entertaining experience the whole family can enjoy. The performers bring to life traditional Smoky Mountain heritage and culture in a fun and interactive way. 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 15-18, 2017, W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival, Henderson, KY, www.HandyBlues.org
Recognized by the KTIA Top 10 Festivals & Evens, the W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival has grown to be one of the largest and free music festivals in the nation. One can expect to hear a variety of blues styles, including gritty delta blues, smooth soul, big horn bands and Zydeco music. Other festival events include Children’s Art Camp & Umbrella Workshop, Street Strut 5K and live Music Lunch Breaks at local restaurants throughout the week. The event is a celebration of the life and legacy of Henderson resident and “Father of the Blues,” William Christopher Handy. This year cast a vote in the barbecue contest fundraiser where it’s Memphis vs. Kansas style BBQ!
June 16-25, 2017, FestivALL Charleston, Charleston, WV, www.FestivALLCharleston.com
The City of Charleston, West Virginia turns into a work of art during its FestivALL celebration. FestivALL is a multi-venue arts festival, which serves its mission to create and sustain robust arts and entertainment opportunities through year-round programming and events. The main event is the 10-day “FestivALL” celebration in June. Each year, FestivALL includes dozens of events, hundreds of performances and in 2016 collaborated with over 500 artists and arts groups on the local, regional, national and international level. This event includes exhibits from music, theater, dance, visual art, humanities and more. This year enjoy events like “Wine and All that Jazz,” a chance to sip on West Virginia’s finest grapes, dine on fine food and listen to award-winning musicians. Enjoy the “Smoke and Chili Cook-Off” or climb aboard the “River Queen Cruises,” which allows guests to enjoy the sights and sounds of FestivALL from the water.
June 16-17, 2017, The NC Blueberry Festival, Burgaw, NC, www.NCBlueberryFestival.com
The North Carolina Blueberry Festival is filled with a great source of local pride, with the entire community involved in promoting Burgaw to the world in its finest shade of blue. The Blueberry festival provides an opportunity for people to enjoy a full day of family entertainment while experiencing the southern hospitality of a small town. Enjoy over 20 events ranging from entertainment to a car show, a street fair, recipe contest, barbeque cook-off, a 5K run, special exhibits and more.
June 17, 2017, Bell Buckle RC-MoonPie Festival and 10 Mile Run, Bell Buckle, TN, http://BellBuckleChamber.com/bell-buckle-rc-moonpie-festival-general-
This wacky, fun for the whole family event celebrates the South’s original fast food—an ice cold RC Cola and a fresh MoonPie. This year’s festival will go overboard celebrating MoonPie’s 100th birthday. The day starts with the 22nd running of the RC-MoonPie certified 10-mile run. Then visitors will delight in a parade, the crowning of the festival’s new king and Queen, cloggers, music and a stage show extraordinaire. Don’t miss the games—ever hula-hoop while eating a MoonPie and Drinking an RC? Or try to power walk while balancing an RC on your head…AND eating a MoonPie. With over 75 arts and crafts booths, all day stage entertainment and the piece de resistance—serving of the World’s Largest MoonPie birthday pie—no wonder Bell Buckle has had governors, country music stars, authors, dignitaries, world champions and so many others serve as King and Queen to this quirky, fun and free event. It’s easy to see why this perennial favorite has earned multiple nods from Southern Living magazine, Food Network magazine, USA Today and more.
June 23-24, 2017, Louisiana Peach Festival, Ruston, LA, http://LouisianaPeachFestival.org/
The Louisiana Peach Festival is the largest and longest running event held in Ruston, LA. The event takes over Downtown Ruston for a weekend, where attendees can enjoy carnival rides, live music, kids’ activities, peachy goods, parade, shopping and more. Peach Festival offers something for everyone with events catering to all interests. Attendees can shop the Arts & Crafts Show that features more than 100 booths, attend the antique car show, enjoy live music from several artists/bands in Railroad Park, watch the Peach Cobbler Eating Contest, or enjoy any of the other Peach Festival activities, such as the rodeo, 5K, tennis and bass tournaments, kids’ fishing tournament or fabric art show. The Peach Festival is a huge economic driver for Ruston Lincoln Parish, producing an economic impact of $2.37 million to the community and providing the area with thousands of visitors. The community takes great pride in this event with local businesses, schools and organizations participating in the Peach Festival Parade, as Guinness World Record for Largest Peach Cobbler at the 2015 Peach festival and hosting the “Cobbler Gobbler” Peach Cobbler Eating Contest in 2016. The Louisiana Peach Festival is an iconic, beloved event in the area and only continues to grow in size and popularity with each passing year.
June 23-25, 2017, 57th Annual Old Homes Tour and Antiques Show, Beaufort, NC, www.BeaufortHistoricSite.org
The colonial seaport town of Beaufort, one of North Carolina’s oldest towns, hosts one of the state’s longest running tours of private historic homes, gardens, local churches, inns, art studios and meeting halls. The Old Homes & Gardens Tour is the trademark event for the town. During the tour, private homeowners welcome ticket holders in their homes and gardens. The Beaufort Historic Site features live music, special living history events depicting trades and crafts of the 19th century, as well as tours of the site’s eight historic buildings. Six of those buildings are fully and authentically restored, ranging from a primitive cottage from 1778 to the Apothecary & Doctor’s Office from 1859. Additional events throughout the weekend include concerts, tours of the Old Burying Ground, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features more than 200 graves that pre-date the Civil War; tours of Beaufort aboard the BHA’s 1967 English Double-Decker Bus and an antique car show. Held in conjunction with the Beaufort Old Homes Tour, the Annual Antiques Show and Sale is held at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in neighboring Morehead City. Featuring more than 40 dealers offering a wide variety of antiques and collectibles including estate jewelry, furniture, crystal, silver, porcelain, pottery, dolls, linens, fine art as well as with impressive waterfront views, the Antiques Show and Sale is sure to have something for everyone.
June 23-24, 2017, Pirate Day In the Bay, Bay St. Louis, MS, http://mkotsh.com/
Captain Longbeard used Bay St. Louis as his hide-away while he raided British, French and Spanish Merchant ships as a trusted member of Jean Lafitte’s Pirate Navy. Once a year he would bring his men to the city, stash his loot, refurbish his boats, get his needed supplies, recruit new conscripts and have a pub crawl entertaining the young ladies of the city. Join the Krewe of Mystic Seahorse and Captain Longbeard for Pirate Day in The Bay, commemorating the annual celebration started by Captain Longbeard and his pirate crew including the Lafitte Brothers Jean and Pierre. Festivities begin Friday evening lasting through Saturday night and include a Pirate Pub Crawl, scavenger hunt, Captain Longbeard’s Pirate Proclamation, amusement rides, costume contests, pirate cruises, a parade, live entertainment and more.
June 24, 2017, Gulf Coast Shrimp & Jazz Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org
This year’s event will showcase new jazz musicians, artists, events and a wide variety of shrimp and other delicious foods. The Shrimp & Jazz Festival is a vision inspired by the desire to see quality cultural change both emerging and professional in Southwest Louisiana. Lake Charles is a city steeped in a rich cultural history, with a thriving local economy that features a unique blend of music, performance and visual arts. Jazz is an important part of that history, yet Lake Charles has no Jazz station on air. Locals can only get access to jazz by satellite radio, digital technology or by visiting one of a few local venues where jazz artists perform. The goal of the festival is to attract and engage a larger jazz audience by using music and great food.