Nestled in a mountain valley in North Georgia you can find a taste of Bavaria. Helen, GA, located about 90 miles north of Atlanta, is the place to celebrate Oktoberfest in the Southeast. Over a million visitors make the scenic drive to Helen in September and
October for the annual Oktoberfest celebration. What’s so unique about Helen? An idea that blossomed into a major tourist destination.
In 1969, Helen, GA was a typical sleepy North Georgia town. Three local businessmen got together to bat around ideas to refurbish the downtown area and attract the many tourist that pass through on their way to the mountains each year. They enlisted the help of a neighboring town artist named John Kollack. While taking in the mountain scenery, it struck him that the area reminded him of the German villages he saw during his time in military service. He drew up some sketches of how the town would look as a Bavarian village, the townspeople loved the idea and by the end of 1969 the town had transformed itself into an exact replica of a small town in the mountains of Germany. The combination of visitors passing through to take in the vibrant fall colors of the North Georgia mountains and one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in the Southeast has transformed the town into the third most visited city in Georgia.
Oktoberfest starts during the four weekends in September, the daily October 1st through 28th. Activities are held at the Helen Festhalle and include authentic German food, music, dancing, and, of course beer. The festivities are kicked off by a parade at noon on September 8th. If you find yourself in the Atlanta area in September and October, be
sure to make some time to head up to Helen, GA. It is about a two hour drive north and the scenery is fantastic. It can get a little crowded, so be sure to go early. Also, make a stop in Dahlonega, another beautiful town on the way with quaint downtown complete with retail stores and restaurants. It’s also home to the University of North Georgia.
Thanks for reading and until next time…Let Us Drink Beer!