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Georgia 0

The Top 5 Things To Do In Liberty County GA

1. Geechee Kunda Cultural Center – Riceboro

Jim Bacote of the Geechee Kunda Cultural Center just radiates joy and hospitality.

A visit to the Geechee Kunda Cultural Center in Riceboro is a must when visiting Georgia.  I spent hours with Jim Bacote and his sister Bethany and it still wasn’t enough.  It was my favorite stop on my journey through Liberty County.  Their genuine hospitality and desire to share the history of the Gullah/Geechee people was inspiring.

The kunda (which means compound or home of hope) is located on lands where the rice, cotton, and indigo once grew as part of the “Retreat Plantation.” It is now sacred land and a spiritual center for Africans in America.

“The Gullah/Geechee Nation exists from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL. It encompasses all of the Sea Islands and thirty to thirty-five miles inland to the St. John’s River. On these islands, people from numerous African ethnic groups linked with indigenous Americans and created the unique Gullah language and traditions from which later came “Geechee.” The Gullah/Geechee people have been considered “a nation within a nation” from the time of chattel enslavement in the United States until they officially became an internationally recognized nation on July 2, 2000. At the time of their declaration as a nation, they confirmed the election of their first “head pun de boddee”-head of state and official spokesperson and queen mother. They elected Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation ).”

Exhibit galleries, local crafts, a gift shop, a family research center, and ongoing documentation are all part of the center’s efforts to keep the Gullah/Geechee culture alive and growing.

If you are fortunate enough to have Jim make you lunch, you are in for a treat. Fried lobster, whiting, sweet Georgia white shrimp, corn on the cob, pasta salad, and spinach salad with fresh strawberries were prepared just for us.  You won’t find a better meal in town.  I promise!

A historic building has been moved onto the property and will soon be restored for use again as a Praise Hall. Call and response praise events, complete with live music, are something I would like to see.

I look forward to returning to see Jim with my own family. They are constantly adding to the center so each trip will be a delight.

Homemade baskets at the Geechee Kunda Cultural Center
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Shrimp and Lobster made by Jim for our lunch
Geechee Kunda Cultural Center
Geechee Kunda Cultural Center
Geechee Kunda Cultural Center
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A sample of rice still grown in the USA by a coastal plantation
Geechee Kunda Cultural Center
Bethany playing a handmade Xylophone
More handmade instruments in the gathering hall
A mural at Geechee Kunda painted by a local artist. Jim is part of the painting (top) and his wife Pat is in the center.
Jim explaining the use of the sugar cane mill
Over 100 years old, this fire pit was used for boiling down the sugar cane and more
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A cornerstone of an old building.  Made with from local shells
Red, a sweet rescue, is the Geechee Kunda welcoming committee.
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Tiny home lovers will swoon over this little round building. I wanted to move in.
The sugar cane mill still operational and in fantastic condition
History and artifacts are sprinkled all over the area
Old pots with the museum building in the background.
An overview of just part of the Geechee Kunda Cultural Center
Look what I found!  Sadly, It didn’t fit in my suitcase as a gift for Chris.

Come explore this wonderful historic location for yourself.  You will be glad you did.

Geechee Kunda,  622 Ways Temple Rd.,  Riceboro, GA  (Located off I-95 Exit 67 on Hwy 17 South between  (Mile Marker 3 and Mile Marker 4). Follow the Historic Liberty Trail signs once you are in Riceboro.


2. Midway Historic District – Midway

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A favorite stop during my stay in Liberty County Georgia, the Midway Historic District was educational as well as enchanting. The museum’s Executive Director Diane Kroell, dressed in period costume, provides visitors with an in-depth tour of the Midway Museum, the Midway Congregational Church, and Cemetery.

I was particularly smitten with the interior of the church. The construction, millwork details, high ceilings, sweeping balcony, and swinging pew doors are exquisite. The balcony was a later addition to allow blacks and whites to worship together. The blacks sat in the free seats in the balcony and the whites in the family owned pews below. As I sat in the balcony, I kept thinking of the pastor in the movie Pollyanna. I could just picture a sermon being delivered from the lofty pulpit as children squirmed and ladies in proper church attire cooled themselves with fans.

Across the street from church is the Midway Congregational Church Cemetery. It is a treasure trove of history. One could spend an entire day wandering through the headstones and wondering about the story each person would tell of life in this colonial period. The graves of James Screven and Daniel Stewart, two American generals of the Revolutionary War, are located in this cemetery. A large granite monument in the center was dedicated in 1915 to them.

Due to the fragile nature and historical value of the items within the museum and separate kitchen building, photography is not allowed inside. I encourage you to visit for yourself. In the museum, you will learn more about Lyman Hall, Button Gwinnett and George Walton, three Georgia men that signed the Declaration of Independence. To help with planning your trip, you can also visit The Midway Museum website.

A bit more information from the National Park Service:

“Once an influential center for political, economic, and religious life, the colonial town of Midway was founded by New England Puritans in 1752. These colonists were strongly in favor of independence from Great Britain, and during the Revolution the church and most of the buildings in the town were burned by the British. The church was rebuilt in 1792. Also remaining to represent the colonial era of Midway are the historic 1756 cemetery and a segment of the historic “Old Sunbury Road” now a portion of Georgia highway 38. A museum modeled after the houses that once stood in Midway is also located in the district.”

The Midway Historic District is at the junction of US Highway 17 and Georgia Highway 38. The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm with the last tour beginning at 3pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays and all holidays.

Admission: Adults: $10, Seniors & Military: $8, Students 5-19: $5.

Note: All group tours will need to make an advanced reservation. Please call 912-884-5837.

Special Upcoming Events:

December 10, 2016 – Christmas Tea, 11 – 4 pm* Reservations Required

 

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Executive Director Diane Kroell

 


 

 

3. Dorchester Academy and Museum – Midway

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Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia

The Dorchester Academy and Museum in Midway Georgia. This historic site is located at the corner of East Oglethorpe Highway (US Route 84) and Lewis Fraser Road.

The starting point for each tour is the museum located in a small building in front of the dormitory. Inside you will be greeted by a friendly volunteer staff and be given a brief tour. You learn about the history of the buildings, the young men that attended the school, and those that were activists for African-American education and civil rights. My tour guide, Mr. Bacon, commented on how my eyes lit up and how history “just gets in your blood.” It does indeed. Have I mentioned lately how much I love historic coastal Georgia?

Currently undergoing extensive restoration, the main building, a beautiful two-story Georgian Revival dormitory, was built to educate freed slaves after the Civil War.  By 1917, the fully-accredited high school consisted of multiple buildings and almost 300 students. Unfortunately many of the buildings were destroyed by fire in the 1930’s or torn down after the school closed in 1940.

As you walk through the halls and the auditorium, you can get a feel of the building’s past and imagine the lives that were changed by the availability of such a high level of learning. Our tour guide mentioned that the education provided surpassed what was standard at the time and allowed many of the boys to proceed into high level positions without the need of college.

In 1961, the remaining building was converted for use as a civil rights center and Dr. Martin Luther King stayed on site before his march on Birmingham in 1963. A room which bears his name can still be seen as you tour the facility.

The Dorchester Academy, while having one foot in the past and rich in African-American history, has a very bright future. The nearly complete restoration process will enable the building to be used once again by the community. I look forward to a return visit. The history book for this site has many more chapters.

Note: In front of the museum there are paver stones with names of people that have donated to this wonderful Liberty County site. I encourage you to purchase one. You never know who’s life it will change

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Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Learning more about the Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
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Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Tribute to Martin Luther King at the Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
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A 1940 Diploma from the Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
The restoration process at Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dormitory Room used by Martin Luther King during his stay at the Dorchester Academy
In the Martin Luther King Room at Dorchester Academy
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Restoration Continues at the Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Work in Progress at the Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Painting the trim at Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia
Dorchester Academy – Midway, Georgia

4. Brewer Christmas Tree Farm – Midway

Brewer Christmas Tree Farm

Brewer’s Christmas Tree and Blueberry Farm – a family owned choose and cut, pick your own farm  located at 1067 Robert Hill Road in Midway, Georgia.

Resplendent with blueberries, oriental persimmons, Muscadine grapes, figs, fresh vegetables, Christmas trees, and southern charm, the Brewer Farm is a wonderful way to spend the day. I enjoyed wandering among the fruit trees and picking fresh blueberries. Mr. Brewer, the farm’s owner, even gave me his wife’s blueberry pie recipe to take home with me.

While quieter during the summer months, this is a busy location come holiday time. Visitors come from all over the area to get their Christmas trees and fresh pine wreaths.

I look forward to visiting again this winter. Next time I want to take a hayride, visit their Christmas Shop, with the goats at their seasonal petting zoo, and capture the joy of the families that come year after year to partake in this 30 year old tradition.

Fresh Blueberries
Mr. Brewer showing us the ripening blueberries
among the trees
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Brewer Christmas Tree Farm
Fresh Fruit
More Blueberries
Mr Brewer is a wealth of information
The farm
Grapes vines
Fresh Pearss
Brewer Christmas Tree Farm
Make sure to come back for the holidays

5. Liberty’s Waterfront – Sunbury

Greetings from the sweet coast town of Sunbury, the original county seat of Liberty County Georgia. A short drive from the new county seat of Hinesville, Savannah to the north, and Saint Simons Island to the south, Sunbury is well worth seeking out.

You will find wonderful views of Sunbury Harbor at the Sunbury Crab Co. This laid back dining establishment has sweet fried shrimp, calamari, and the best coleslaw I have ever had. And lots and lots of  lemonade! I was parched after a day of exploring.  They just kept them coming.

At the local pier and boat ramp, you can also drop a line. It is fully accessible to the handicapped and a good spot for river fishing or just enjoying the views.

Fort Morris, an 18th century earthwork fort and nature site, is also nearby for a bit of local history.  When I return in December, I would like to join them for A Colonial Christmas being held on Saturday, Dec 3, 2016 from 5 PM to 8 PM. The park staff will be offering colonial refreshments, a yule log, bonfire, 18th century music, caroling, dance and firing of the Christmas guns.

The area also offers one family-owned bed and breakfast, Dunham Farms located on a 30 acre estate. The gorgeous tree lined road shown below is on the way to their location. While I did not stay here during this trip, this coastal hideaway has a solid 5 star rating on TripAdvisor and offers many activities to truly enjoy the area.

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http://www.visitthesouth.com – images by Tammy Lee Bradley

Gwinnett County 0

A Visual Tour of Chateau Elan Winery and Resort

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Painting: Chateau Elan Winery by Tammy Lee Bradley

Recently my friend Kay and I visited the french-style Chateau Elan Winery and Resort located in the town of Braselton, Georgia for an evening of wine, food, and delightful accommodations.  Set on 3,500 acres with a winery, golf, spa and inn, the resort is a short drive from Atlanta making it a perfect destination for year-round weddings, romantic southern getaways, and corporate retreats.

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It’s harvest time at Chateau Elan!

It was harvest time during our stay.  I enjoyed walking through the vineyard taking photos.  It went something like this… Click once. Eat a grape. Repeat.

This vineyard grows the Muscadine species of grapes and as a resident of Florida and lover of our local Florida wines. I was very excited to try Georgia’s version. I found that Chateau Elan’s wines showcase the sweetness of this southern grape variety perfectly.  A few wines that feature the Muscadine grape prominently are their Duncan Creek and Muscadry.

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A view of the vines and the new Hampton Inn & Suites
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Decadent rooms in the Chateau Elan Inn
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Luxurious Hotel Bath and Beauty Products
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View from my room
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The serene pool area at the Chateau Elan Inn

The resort-style pool at the inn is a great way to escape the heat of the day or unwind after a hard day of wine tasting and golf.   Make sure to say hi to Sem at the pool bar, he is one of the interns visiting from the Netherlands.  He will gladly whip you up a Bahama Mama or cocktail of your choice.

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View from the Pool
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The spectacular architecture of the Chateau Elan Inn
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The lunch buffet at Versailles Restaurant offers options for everyone

For a quick bite to eat during your stay make sure to check out the gourmet buffet at the Versailles Restaurant with a full compliment of salads, entrees, side dishes, and desserts,  I tried Halibut cooked in Lemon Honey Butter for the first time.  It was a light flaky delight.  Make sure to sample the Pecan Pie as well.  TO DIE FOR!  We also had our eye on the Cheesecake but couldn’t fit another bite.

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There are healthy options at that buffet for your spa stay.
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Or maybe you want to splurge on the perfect piece of pecan pie
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Did you know they plant roses to help monitor the health of the vines?
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The tasting room, Wine Market and little friend.

At the winery, you will enter the tasting room where you will await your tour guide.  This area also houses the Wine Market, which features the Chateau Elan wines and culinary gift items for you to purchase.   The winery also offers weekend cooking classes in The Viking Culinary Studio and Saturday afternoon cooking demonstrations. Make sure to visit their website for a long list of upcoming events.

Are you a foodie?  An Epicurean Escape package is also available if you would like to combine dining, wine-pairing, accommodations, and a hands-on cooking class.  Also, if you are lucky enough to live nearby, stop by for their Unwined Wednesdays with $15 wine tastings and 15% discount on all wine purchases.

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Behind the scenes of the Winery tour

The best place to start an adventure at the most awarded winery on the east coast for the past two years in a row is in the Vat Room.  The wine tour gives you an in-depth look at the wine-making process, the history of the winery, and a glimpse at the future of this growing southern winery under the tutelage of Internationally Award Winning & Italian Executive Winemaker Simone Bergese.

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Imported French Casks specially made for Chateau Elan
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Exploring the Vat Room at Chateau Elan
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The bottling room of Chateau Elan
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Samples of the Chateau Elan Wines on display in the bottling area
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Our guide during the Winery tour.

If you would like indulge your winemaking fantasies, you can now book a private 2 hour Winemaker’s Tour with Simone Bergese.  Simone will personally guide you through the vineyards and production facility where he will explain his winemaking philosophy and process from vine to bottle.  After the tour, you will enjoy a private super-premium wine tasting led by Simone. Since Joining Château Élan in 2013, his wines have won over 150 awards at prestigious wine competitions and he has brought the wine offerings to over 20 styles of wines.  This is an opportunity that should not be missed.

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Make sure to try their Amazing Rose wine
Grab a glass and pull up a chair! The favorite part of our stay was the deluxe wine tasting. In a private room, our wine stewardess Tiffany helped us to select eight wines each and taught us the correct way to do a tasting.
Kay and I have such different palates that we tried a total of 14 different wines.  Make sure to try the Moscato and the Port, the selections we both agreed on and loved. The one hour winery tour plus this 2 hour tasting event followed by dinner at Paddy’s Pub was the perfect way to end the day.
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A few of our wine selections

This image sums up our experience. My selections were light and sweet with an essence of raspberry, peach, and strawberry. Fun summery labels and screw caps, shown on the left, are definitely my style. Kay’s choices were drier wines with elegant labels and corks. She’s clearly much more sophisticated than I.  Either way, we enjoyed every drop.

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Paddy’s Irish Pub located next to the winery
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Shephard’s Pie at Paddy’s Irish Pub

Following our wine tasting, we wandered over to the Irish Pub for some dinner.  After eight glasses of wine something simple was in order and a thick Reuben Sandwich sounded perfect.  As far as sandwiches go, it is the standard (in addition to the classic Caesar salad) that I hold every restaurant to.  If you make a great Reuben, I’ll be a diner for life.  Paddy’s Irish Pub did not disappoint.  Kay loved her classic Shepard’s Pie. For an appetizer, give the pretzel rolls and creamy cheese dip a try. We left wanting more.

 

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Painting: Harvest Time by Tammy Lee Bradley

 

Thank you Chateau Elan for inviting us to visit and the southern hospitality.  We will be back soon for that slice of cheesecake and another glass of port.


The two paintings shown are available for sale as prints, canvases and more.


Disclosure: Complimentary accommodations, meals, and activities were provided by Chateau Elan . No other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.