Appalachian Brew, Stew & Que
It was a Tuesday night in October when Wyatt called. He was helping with a beer fest in his hometown. It was only 4 days away and one of the bands had canceled. “I know it’s short notice, but is Dogwood Winter available to play a beer festival this Saturday?” As most of you know, Dogwood Winter is a musical project that I am a part of with two very talented gals in Bryson City. I was scheduled to work and I was sure Alma had a show with another band, but I couldn’t say no. I mean, a chance to get paid to play music with a couple of my best friends AND taste some new brews?! Sign me up! I started making calls and with a little juggling we made it work and accepted.
That Saturday afternoon we piled into a VW bus with the band and some friends and headed south to Hiawassee, Georgia. On the way down we rehearsed harmonies and enjoyed the beautiful fall scenery. What a perfect day for a festival!
If you’ve never been to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, you’re really missing out. The venue is reminiscent of a small lakeside mountain community. Instead of rows of tents like you see at most beer or craft fests, there are little cabin-like structures for vendors to set up in. This not only made for a good looking event, but a convenient one as well. Vendors just brought their wares and were provided weather-proof space complete with electricity.
This was their first attempt at a beer festival and I think it went over well. There were somewhere around 21 breweries present, some from Georgia and a couple from North Carolina. I was able to try some beers from a few breweries I had never heard of. My favorite of the day was probably the Coconut Porter from Cherry Street Brewing Co-Op in Cumming, Georgia. I also got a chance to try a beer made from grits brewed by a small brewery in my hometown of Hampton, Georgia, Jailhouse Brewing Company. Erin, our banjo player, is gluten-free and found some tasty ciders from various places. Along with the craft beer, several people were serving up food. BBQ fresh out of the smoker and Brunswick stew made from scratch. It smelled like heaven strolling through the fairgrounds.
In the middle of it all was a stage. Several regional acts took the stage throughout the day. We went on mid-afternoon and then took the stage again later that evening as a part of an Americana music jam with Wyatt Espalin, Rob Tiger, and some of their talented friends. There were tables and chairs set-up so people could eat, sip, and enjoy the tunes. We had a blast!
Everyone did a great job. Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds first beer fest was a success. Thanks for the invite. Let’s do it again next year!
Check out Wyatt Espalin’s website for more info about his music and how you can get it. www.wyattespalinmusic.com
The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds are located at 1311 Music Hall Road in Hiawassee, Georgia.