A new festival launches this weekend, taking its theme from a little-known fact about Charleston, Tenn.
The first International Cowpea Festival will be held Saturday in Charleston City Park celebrating the fact that Charleston was once known as a large grower and exporter of cowpeas, according to Internet sources. It was even nicknamed the "Cowpea Capital of the United States." Cowpea is a slang term for black-eyed peas, field peas, crowder peas and other varieties of peas.
The folks organizing this festival are having fun with their unusual theme; they've planned events such as "the Princess and the Cowpea Pageant" and "Pea-caso art projects."
There will be a farmers market, cowpea cook-off, crafters, children's activities and entertainment on the hour starting at 10 a.m. The festival will close with a 7 p.m. concert by Suzy Bogguss.
• Another festival making its debut Saturday is Who-Too! in Coolidge Park. This festival is put on by Winder Binder Gallery in collaboration with the Who Ha Da Da Artist Collective. It began in Atlanta as Who-Fest, then moved to Chattanooga's Renaissance Park in 2007 as an annual spring event.
The success of the spring festival prompted patrons to ask for a fall follow-up. So this sister event is being launched with about 40 exhibitors and an expanded musical lineup.
• Two weekend events -Arts Festival at Rose Lawn and Chickamauga Yesteryear Festival - feature historic homes as their backdrops.
Rose Lawn is a short drive down I-75 to Cartersville, Ga., where the arts and crafts festival is spread on the grounds of a historic Victorian mansion.
Chickamauga Yesteryear is held in downtown Chickamauga, Ga., celebrating Southern heritage.
"This is a festival that will take you back in time to the late 1800s," said Donna Massengale, treasurer of the Chickamauga Merchants Association. "There will be live music, square dancing, handmade crafts, food and lots of fun." There also will be bluegrass music on the hour from 2 to 6 p.m.
Chickamauga Yesteryear organizers encourage visitors to arrive dressed in their vintage clothing. Catch the 10 a.m. Chickamauga Turn train from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and ride the rails to Chickamauga for a fun family day trip. Tickets are $34 adults, $26 children ages 3-12 (reservations encouraged).
In conjunction with Chickamauga Yesteryear, the War Between the States Day barbecue competition will be held on the grounds of the antebellum Gordon-Lee Mansion. War Between the States Day includes living-history re-enactors who will be camped around the mansion to remind visitors what camp life was like for Civil War soldiers.
• The Creative Arts Guild will celebrate its 49th Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts on Saturday in Dalton, Ga.
According to Jim Sneary, this year's festival will include an indoor juried exhibit, open-air artists market, music, gymnastics and dance performances. There will be a Children's Hill with pirate theme, where kids can try their hands at art activities. A free evening concert by the Etowah Jazz Society closes out the festival at 7 p.m. Sneary encourages concertgoers to bring a picnic dinner.