Green apples in Ellijay, Georgia

Georgia apples in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Gilmer Chamber

Guide to the Georgia Apple Festival

Treat yourself to a trip to Ellijay to experience all the sights, flavors and family fun at this favorite fall festival.

It’s no surprise that the “apple capital” of Georgia is home to one of the most anticipated occasions of the year, the Georgia Apple Festival. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Ellijay's rolling hills and serene landscapes, the apple extravaganza has been a seasonal highlight for more than 50 years.

Couple at the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, Georgia
Couple at the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Gilmer Chamber

Celebrating the apple harvest, the Georgia Apple Festival takes place during the second and third full weekends in October. With roughly 300 vendors selling an array of food, art, and handcrafted items, the folksy gathering also boasts numerous on-site craft demonstrations. Navigating the vast expanse of the festival is part of the adventure. As you weave through the vibrant grounds, discovering unique crafts, or plotting your next apple treat, the journey promises to be delightful. You can easily make a weekend of it, whether with family, friends, or even a special date, ensuring you soak in all that the festival and Ellijay have to offer.

Apple treat at the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, Georgia
Apple dumpling at the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Gilmer Chamber

At the Annual Apple Classic Auto Show, you’ll find more than 300 show cars, a “best of” awards show, and door prizes, perfect for car enthusiasts young and old. You can also get a literal running start to your Georgia Apple Festival activities at the Apple Festival 5k and 1 mile race, which has been around for almost as long as the festival itself, and usually starts and ends in downtown Ellijay. Little ones are welcome to join the Tot Trot.

Things to Do

Woman and child picking flowers at R & A Orchards in Ellijay, Georgia
Woman and child picking flowers at R & A Orchards in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Gilmer Chamber

It only makes sense that local area orchards are in on the charming festival fun. R&A Orchards is family-owned and packed full of fun activities for everyone. While the highlight is heading over to the U-Pick orchards to fill up your bag with seasonal apples, you can also grab a pair of clippers and a cup and create a custom bouquet. The flower fields are alive with a vibrant selection of zinnias, sunflowers, and wildflowers. Before you leave, drop by the store and grab R&A jams, butters, and ciders to add to your apple-fueled haul.

Apple cider doughnuts in Ellijay, Georgia
Apple cider doughnuts in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Gilmer Chamber

At Red Apple Barn, the fun doesn’t end with U-Pick apple orchards. Hop on over to the U-Pick pumpkin patches to dress up your autumn decor or add a boost to your fall holiday season. Don’t leave without grabbing a copy of the Red Apple Barn cookbook, "Home Cookin Favorites," which proudly features recipes spanning four generations. Thumb through it while relaxing in the picnic area at the Family Fun Barn, while the kids play games.

Stop by neighboring B.J. Reece Orchards and gather apples, but make sure you drop by the petting farm afterward. Take a load off and soar down the giant farm slide and unleash your competitive spirit at the corn box and rubber duck races.

Flight of ciders at Reece's Cider Company in Ellijay, Georgia
Flight of ciders at Reece's Cider Company in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Gilmer Chamber

When it’s time to wind down, or turn up (depending on your mood), quench your thirst at Reece’s Cider Company, founded by Tanner Reese, grandson of B.J. Reese, who started the popular B.J. Reese Orchards in the 1960’s. There, you’ll find delicious hard cider, like the flavorful Apple Pie hard cider or the slightly sweeter Poppy’s Pick. Or just four miles from downtown, venture to Ellijay’s newest winery, Roo Mountain Vineyards, where you can sample a curated selection of wines and hard cider with a mountain view from the rooftop garden.

Exhibits at Expedition: Bigfoot! in Cherry Log, Georgia
Exhibits at Expedition: Bigfoot! in Cherry Log, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

While you're in the area for the festival, another must-see spot to add to your itinerary is Expedition: Bigfoot! The Sasquatch Museum. As the world's largest Bigfoot museum, this unique destination invites families to embark on a self-guided journey through its sprawling 3,700-square-foot space. Enthusiasts and curious minds alike can explore interactive exhibits and view the largest permanent collection of footprint casts in the U.S., some dating back to 1982.

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Where to Eat

After working up an appetite from the festival fun, head to the locally owned favorite Cantaberry Restaurant for a hearty lunch or dinner pick-me-up. Southern-fried chicken, Canterbury meatloaf, or a Southern Boy Burger with BBQ, bacon, and tomato should satisfy your hunger cravings.

Food at The Roof in Ellijay, Georgia
Food at The Roof in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Gilmer Chamber

Or, head to the trendy downtown restaurant The Roof and take in an awesome view of Ellijay. Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes and unique down-home options like bologna sliders are on the menu. Enjoy your meal on the spacious outdoor patio while you think about what to do with the apples you just scored at the festival.

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Where to Stay

Consider making your stay at The Lodge at Walnut Grove. Situated on 265 acres of vibrant scenery, The Lodge features spacious living rooms, an in-house library, dual kitchens – one of which is gourmet-grade – along with a wrap-around porch and serene stone patios. Its refined elegance is brought to life by breathtaking views of the valley.

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Embarking on an apple-inspired journey in Ellijay promises a blend of tradition, adventure, and Southern charm. As the leaves change and the festivities beckon, there's no better way to celebrate autumn in Georgia than diving deep into its apple heritage.

Written by: Jacinta Howard
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