STS Top 20 Events - the best events in the southeast

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Oct. 1-2 Unicoi County Apple Festival, Erwin, Tenn. 423-743-3000 A celebration of the Southern Appalachian region; 350 vendors line the streets of Erwin while choirs and bluegrass music fill the air with harmonious sounds.

Oct. 1-2 Pellissippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival, Knoxville, Tenn. 865-694-6400 Featuring hot air balloons, balloon "glow", tethered balloon rides and more, this perennial favorite attracts festival-goers from across the region. Don't miss the Ultimate Canines dog show.

Oct. 1-2 8th Annual Cajun, Country, Swamp Pop Music Fest & Car Show, Gulfport, Miss. 228-547-7323 A previous "Top 20 Event of the Year". This show's goal is to raise funds to train dogs for the Gulf Coast Search & Rescue. Packed with food, car shows and live entertainment, this event will please all senses!

Oct. 1-3 The North Carolina Seafood Festival, Morehead City, N.C. 252-726-6273 "Cooking with the Chefs" and "Open Aire Seafood Market" assist in making this the second largest festival in N.C. This free-admission event educates on the importance of locally caught fish.

Oct. 1-3 BayFest Music Festival, Mobile, Ala. 251-554-5614 Ten years loud and counting. The children's area allows kids hours of fun while giving the parents a chance to entertain the whole family.

Oct. 2 Oliver Hardy Festival, Harlem, Ga. 706-556-0043 The birthplace of classic-comedian Oliver Hardy has an event planned with the entire family in mind. View hilarious Laurel and Hardy films in their original 16mm format.

Oct. 2 Celebration of Cultures, Nashville, Tenn. 615-340-7501 A vibrant multicultural festival glimpses into the daily life of various countries. Taste delicious foods, peruse handicrafts and enjoy teen activities.

Oct. 2-3 The Cotton Pickin' Fair, Gay, Ga. 706-538-6814 Considered Georgia's premiere agritourism event. Peruse artisans, antique specialists and craftsmen from across the U.S. and Canada.

Oct. 7-9 Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, Helena, Ark. 870-995-2698 On the forefront of blues music festivals, listen to stirring performances of this American art form. Formerly known as the King Biscuit Blues Festival.

Oct. 7-10 West Virginia Pumpkin Festival, Milton, W. Va. 304-634-5857 Master craftsmen share their expertise in blacksmithing, pottery and woodworking. Kids will enjoy the sheep shearing, pumpkin carving and molasses making.

Oct. 7-17 Georgia National Fair, Perry, Ga. 478-987-3247 Known for educational exhibits, livestock and horse shows, midway rides, games, nightly fireworks and family entertainment.

Oct. 8-10 Autumn Leaves Festival, Mount Airy, N.C. 336-786-6116 One of the longest running festivals in N.C., the roster of 170 artisans cover pottery, paintings, jewelry and textiles. Celebrate our cultural music and craft heritage amongst the changing leaves.

Oct. 9 Taste of our Towns (T.O.O.T.), Lewisburg, W. Va. 304-645-7917, Be sure to visit early as the pecan pie and crab cakes disappear quickly. Tokens are $1 each.

Oct. 9-10 Historic Appomattox Railroad Festival, Appomattox, Va. 434-352-8268 Visit the event that actually saved a town! This two-day fête brings in live bands, train exhibits, fireworks and plenty to do for the tykes!

Oct. 15-16 Bukka White Blues Festival, Aberdeen, Miss. 800-634-3538 Authentic Mississippi blues at its best! Enjoy the dulcet tones on the banks of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. No charge to attend.

Oct. 15-17 39th Annual Louisiana Gumbo Festival, Chackbay, La. 985-633-7789 Offering the best in Cajun food, music and dancing, this party is held on five acres around Chackbay. This worthwhile endeavor raises funds for the volunteer fire department.

Oct. 23 The Barbecue Festival, Lexington, N.C. 336-956-1880 No one has to remind you to clean your plate here! Over 300 exhibitors, rides, games, craftsmen and children's activities to help celebrate Lexington's famous heritage.

Oct. 23 The Deep Roots Festival, Milledgeville, Ga. 478-452-4687 Many report this as the "Best Festival Ever." The sixth year of this fest features a BBQ cook-off, truck, car and motorcycle show and plenty of national artists.

Oct. 29-31 37th Annual French Food Festival, Larose, La. 985-693-7355 Experience the essence of life on Bayou Lafourche. Over 20 local specialty dishes offers true Cajun cuisine. In addition, an old fashion carnival is available for the kiddies.

Oct. 29-Nov.7 Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival, Fort Myers, Fla. 239-433-3855 A ten-day party offers opportunities for kayaking and canoeing newcomers and experts. Give back to the community by joining the debris cleanup at Monofilament Madness.

The deadline to apply to be a Winter (January, February, March) 2011 event is July 9, 2010. For an application, visit the STS Top 20 web page.


Nov. 1-Dec.31 Christmas in the City, Knoxville, Tenn. 865-215-4248 Kick off Christmas in K-ville! Krutch Park and Market Square host the crowds, as they take in the lighting of the Christmas tree, meet Santa and hear bluegrass pickin'.

Nov. 4-7 63rd Annual Original Ozark Folk Festival, Eureka Springs, Ark. 866-947-4387 Visit the longest-running folk festival in the land while taking in the local Ozark arts and crafts. Many free concerts are available.

Nov. 4-7 Indian Festival and Pow Wow, Stone Mountain, Ga. 770-498-5690  Over 50 tribes represented. Take part in the drum and dance competitions, craft displays and storytelling. Stroll the tipi village and East meets West Encampment.

Nov. 5-7 Heritage Harbor Days, Foley, Ala. 251-943-1200 Heritage Park comes alive with sounds of local and regional musicians, wonderful aromas and visually stunning demonstrations.

Nov. 5-7 Ponchatoula Antique Trade Days & Craft Fair, Ponchatoula, La. 800-617-4502 This free outdoor celebration has over 100 booths featuring antiques, collectibles, crafts and art. Free petting zoo, music and more are offered.

Nov. 6 Zoofari at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, Fla. 813-935-8552 Known as one of the largest and wildest all-inclusive food festivals. "Art Safari" offers local art and a silent auction. Help raise funds for animal care by attending!

Nov. 6 Historic Corinth Grand Illumination, Corinth, Miss. 800-748-9048 Corinth is aglow with 12,000 luminaries symbolizing the number of casualties experienced during the Civil War siege and Battle of Corinth. Free carriage rides and all-day entertainment.

Nov. 6-7 Wilson Whirligig Festival, Wilson, N.C. 252-205-2704, This gig has it all! Keep your tummy happy with the best regional food. Downtown Wilson becomes a mecca for great toe-tapping music and gratis family entertainment.

Nov. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 26-28, Dec. 4-5, 11-12 Louisiana Renaissance Festival, Hammond, La. 985-429-9992 Experience the romance of the 16th century as you visit this enchanting renaissance village. Take pleasure in the dozens of show music, and more, all authentically depicting this alluring period in history.

Nov. 7-15 West Virginia University Mountaineer Week, Morgantown, W. Va. 304-293-2702 Extol all-things West Virginia! The centerpiece is the Craft Fair, which features contemporary crafts of tourism and ecotourism. Experience the beard growing competition!

Nov. 11-13 Christmas Jubilee 2010, Mobile, Ala. 251-471-3348 Featuring merchants from around the U.S., the revelry kicks off the holiday shopping season with a broad selection of gifts for all ages and budgets.

Nov. 11-14 The 29th Annual Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals, Myrtle Beach, S.C. 800-261-5991 Days of yore are back at this Christmas show as 350 costume vendors sell their wares, offering Victorian teas, Punch and Judy shows, strolling minstrels, street urchins… and of course, Santa.

Nov. 12-14 A Fine Craft Fair Presented by the Foothills Craft Guild, Knoxville, Tenn. 865-691-6083 Educating children about the tradition of handmade crafts, this fest also features a Kid's Craft Booth. This guild supports aspiring Tennessee artisans.

Nov. 12-14 Festival of Trees & Lights, Louisville, Ky. 502-629-2125 Load the family in the car and celebrate Christian, Jewish and Kwanzaa holiday customs. Also, step back in time and enjoy Dickens-era carols, Old English fare and traditional entertainment on Dickens Family Night.

Nov. 12-Jan.8 Grand Rivers Festival of Lights, Grand Rivers, Ky. 270-362-0152 Stroll through Grand Rivers and Patti's 1880's Settlement and enjoy the traditional Christmas displays and half-a-million lights. Give your family the gift of good food and shared times in this old fashion small town.

Nov. 13-14 27th Annual Ron Meyers Christmas City, Biloxi, Miss. 228-831-3020 Considered one of the largest Christmas gift shows in the South, featuring over 350 vendors from around the U.S. Take part in cooking seminars, a festival of decorated trees and a $500 shopping spree giveaway.

Nov. 15-Jan.2 Stone Mountain Christmas, Stone Mountain, Ga. 770-498-5690    Smell cocoa and feel the snow fall at the Polar Express, a 4-D theater. Sing along to your favorite carols on a full-size train along a five mile track at the base of Stone Mountain.

Nov. 19-Jan.1 Rock City's Enchanted Garden of Lights, Lookout Mountain, Ga. 706-419-4004 Nightly from 6 to 9 p.m., this award-winning, light extravaganza featuring more than 30 holiday scenes and over a million lights.

Nov. 20-Dec. 31 Holidays in the City, Norfolk, Va. 757-623-1757 Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Years are all a part of this six-week merrymaking.

Nov. 23-Jan.1 Christmas on the Cumberland, Clarksville, Tenn. 931-645-7476 Be captivated by the Victorian Village, Toyland, Penguins and more. Children can create their own ornament or Christmas cookie.


Dec. 1-31 Christmas in Charleston, Charleston, S.C. 800-774-0006 Charleston residents get into the spirit by decorating historic homes in period fashions, plantations rekindle visions of Christmas past and quaint shops offer special values.

Dec. 1-31 Southwest Louisiana Christmas Lighting Festival, Lake Charles, La. 800-456-7952 What is Christmas without hot apple cider, colored lights, carols and a side of boudin? Experience all of this while taking in a lighted boat parade, a gingerbread house contest and glittering fireworks.

Dec. 2 2010 Hometown Holidays Parade, Forsyth, Ga. 888-642-4628 This small central Georgia towns plays host to Christmas lights, floats and horses during this nighttime parade. Santa and Mrs. Claus watch the cheerleaders, carolers and beauty queens.

Dec. 2-5 The Bizarre Bazaar's 35th Christmas Collection, Richmond, Va. 804-673-7015 Free parking offered at the four contiguous buildings of Christmas collectibles. The vendors are selected from the best craft and gift shows in America.

Dec. 2-5 Christmas on the River, Demopolis, Ala. 334-289-0270 Featured are three antebellum museum homes dressed in holiday garb; check out the new look of the festival!

Dec. 3 Gatlinburg's Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, Gatlinburg, Tenn. 865-436-0509 Bundle up and soak in this rich holiday tradition featuring lighted floats, marching bands and helium balloons.

Dec. 3-4 Majestic Middle Tennessee Christmas Tour, Columbia, Tenn. 931-381-4822 Horse-drawn carriages and mule carts transport visitors between venues; listen to the 100 period costumed carolers.

Dec. 3-4 Belhaven University Singing Christmas Tree, Jackson, Miss. 601-965-7044 This fest provides families with a free, family-friendly holiday tradition. Singers climb a 35-foot Christmas tree frame to serenade the masses!

Dec. 3-4 Decatur Holiday Candlelight Tour of Homes, Decatur, Ga. 678-553-6573, This year's tour highlights the 100th year of Oakhurst becoming a city. Homes are decorated for the holidays and feature an eclectic mix of architecture.

Dec. 3-4, 10-11,17-18, 24, 31 Ruby Falls' Ruby Red Christmas, Chattanooga, Tenn. 706-419-4004 Walk up to the Cavert Castle as it is snowing with beautiful Christmas décor and live holiday music. Donate a pint whilst there!

Dec. 3-5, 10-12,17-19 Gum Drop Square, Warrenton, Va. 540-349-8606 A sweet event for the entire family. St. Nick arrives Dec. 3rd, while the elves help the wee shoppers.

Dec. 3, 10, 17 Dickens of a Christmas, Roanoke, Va. 540-342-2028 This ceremony spans three Friday nights and offers a pet costume contest and a Christmas tree lighting service. Watch the Roanoke community come together during this festive atmosphere.

Dec. 4-5 Market Days Arts & Crafts Show, Tallahassee, Fla. 850-575-8684 This shopping tradition helps raise funds for the Tallahassee Museum. Works include ceramics, pottery, jewelry, metalworking and calligraphy.

Dec. 4-6 The Living Christmas Tree, Knoxville, Tenn. 865-577-4222 The choir transforms into a custom-built 49-foot-tall 'tree' that holds thousands of lights synchronized to the music lights. This two-hour play incorporates a Biblical story, animals and special events.

Dec. 9-10 Victorian Christmas, Thomasville, Ga. 229-228-7977 For forty-eight hours, downtown Thomasville reverts back to the Victorian era with amazing Christmas traditions. South Georgia Ballet will do a rousing dance revue called "Jingle All the Way."

Dec. 11 9th Annual Christmas on the Bayou, Gulfport, Miss. 228-324-2724 30 boats are elaborately decorated for this lighted boat parade; the route encompasses the entire coastal waterway and ends with a huge party.

Dec. 11 Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Winchester, Tenn. 931-967-2532 Train rides, carriage journeys, face painting, cookie decorating, and storytelling all equals this popular one-day event. Mr. Claus arrives on a fire truck and the kids can hand-deliver their wish list.

Dec. 11-12 Holiday Tour of Historic Inns, St. Augustine, Fla. 904-347-6260 Twenty-six historic bed and breakfast inns are decorated to the hilt and paired with one of the city's top restaurants as they welcome you inside to sample special treats.

Dec. 11-31 Stephen Foster State Park Festival of Lights, White Springs, Fla. 877-635-3655 A 200-foot carillon tower illuminates the night sky as holiday music rings from its 97 tubular bells. Kick it all off with a breakfast with Santa for the tykes.

Dec. 31  First Night Warrenton, Warrenton, Va. 800-820-1021 Goodbye 2010, Hello Eleven! This family friendly evening offers 50 performances at 10 downtown locations.

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