Highlight: Chattooga River Festival

June 15, 2012
Jon Barnwell and nephews take a trip over Bull Sluice on the Chattooga River

There are many ways to while away the summer days in Rabun County, and they often involve the Chattooga River. From amazing whitewater rafting to solitary fly fishing, family picnics and hikes, to simply holding down a patch of sun-warmed sand while a cold Coca-Cola fizzes away in your hand, a summer in Rabun is incomplete without spending some time on the river. Famous for its rapids and also somewhat infamous because of Deliverance, filmed here in the early 1970s, the Chattooga is a tremendously important resource for our community. After the movie was released in 1972, tourism in the area increased by thousands of visitors in a matter of months. The river has long been celebrated for its wild beauty, and this year, the celebration becomes official.

2012 is the inaugural year of the Chattooga River Festival. From June 22nd to June 24th, happenings at the festival are planned to showcase the need to preserve the incredibly diverse and delicate ecosystem, and the river as an important recreational resource.

Locations all over the county are participating in this exciting event. Artists and authors, musicians, local growers and more are coming together to share their experiences and skills, and to nurture within festival goers the importance of preserving the Chattooga River environmentally and recreationally. Organic and sustainable agriculture projects have blossomed in Rabun County and neighboring Oconee County in South Carolina, and many of these small, family-owned farms and CSAs are participating in the festival, either as sponsors or vendors. Some great music is on the schedule as well, and several stages are hosting some very talented folks. I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful summer weekend than going out and supporting a very worthy cause. Because the events are spread across venues throughout Rabun County, attendees are going to have a wonderful opportunity to visit places they might not be familiar with.

The festival is sure to leave a big impression on our community. It’s a wonderful opportunity for locals and visitors to get to know the environmental advocates who work hard to raise awareness of the impact that development can have on a sensitive area like the Chattooga River. For a complete listing of the weekend’s events, visit the festival’s website and check out their Facebook page to read articles about the festival itself, the artists, sponsors, history, and more. I’m so thrilled about this event! Almost everyone I know has a special story and fond memories from days spent on the river, and it’s wonderful to see our community coming together to preserve it.

Update: link to CNN Deliverance video.