Guest speakers, food, music, art and garden tours full of beautiful blooms will be showcased in this weekend's Southern Blooms Festival at Rock City Gardens, 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain. The fifth annual event, running 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, May 3-5, honors Rock City's original gardener, Frieda Utermoehlen Carter.
This year's special guest will be Southern chef, writer and TV personality Virginia Willis, who will share cooking secrets and fun tips during a workshop on Saturday. Some of her recipes are being served at Rock City's new outdoor restaurant, Café 7, during the event, including a special menu item featuring MoonPies. Willis is author of "Bon Appetit, Y'all!" and is the former kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living Television.
Other speakers during the weekend include Andy Offutt Irwin, speaking on Sunday, and Felder Rushing, speaking on Friday. Irwin is a Southern storyteller, writer, musician and recent winner of a Storytelling World Award for his latest CD, "Risk Assessment." Rushing is the founder of the "slow gardening" movement and has written several books. All speakers are available for meet-and-greets and book signings after their workshops.
Morning group tours of Rock City Gardens are being offered daily at 9 a.m., led by Rock City's director of horticulture, George Schimpf, and master gardeners (limited space available). Also each day, Coca-Cola sponsors a Build-Your-Own Rain Barrel workshop, and Chattanooga Area Food Bank leads an interactive make-and-take Create Your Own Pizza Garden workshop.
The full event schedule can be found at www.seerockcity.com/southernblooms.
Admission to the festival is included in regular admission: $19.95 adults, $11.95 children 3-12.
For more information, call 706-820-2531.