Today was the last day of the annual Ellijay Apple Festival in the North Georgia mountains. And because it was the last day, we just had to go. The Apple Festival only comes around once a year, so we piled into the Land Rover—Mike, Mady and me—and headed to Ellijay.
Our first stop was the auto parts store for power steering fluid. It didn’t matter that we already had a bottle in the cargo area…this was a different kind. A better kind. A kind that was designed to help stop leaks. Mike filled the power steering well in the parking lot and we headed to our next stop…the gas station. Because half a tank is not sufficient when one is planning a day trip.
After filling up, we drove in silence for more than an hour...after a mild tiff threatened to derail the entire day. But like all minor disagreements, it was forgotten by the time we were pulling into the parking area for the festival.
There was a small fee to park, which we paid with a smile. Our excitement had washed away any remaining irritation as we got out of the car and hurried toward the main gate.
This was the first time we had been to the apple festival. In years past, we had gone to Ellijay only to miss the excitement by a small margin. This year, we were just on time and prepared for fun. We walked through the maze of people to the entrance only to discover that there was a fee to get in. We had gone to a lot of festivals in Georgia, but this was the first one that charged admission.
No matter…we were too excited to turn back now!
Mike paid the fifteen dollar entrance fee, again with a smile.
The smells wafting toward us as we stepped through the main gate were delectable. We had saved our appetites for just such an occasion. The first item on my agenda was to find the food vendors. We could see people walking around with bowls filled with apple dumplings a la mode, and couldn’t wait to find the tasty apple treats!
I decided that we should eat real food before filling up on sweets, so we sought out something savory to satisfy our hunger.
The mild irritation showed its face again as we walked through the rows of food vendors, unable to decide on one over another. We were in line to get a burger when my husband shifted gears and headed off in a different direction. Either, the line was too long, the price was too high, or our collective indecision got in the way. This went on for several minutes until finally we split up to looked for food separately.
I took Mady with me and Mike headed off to find something “healthy”. He has been quite committed lately to healthy eating, so I couldn’t fault him for that…I just doubted that he would find anything that qualified at the Apple Festival.
Mady stopped at a long line that sold corn dogs and chicken strips, so I queued in behind her. The tent directly beside us sold chili dogs at a much lower price, and they had a shorter line, so I suggested we just get chili dogs, chips and a drink.
“I don’t like chili dogs.” Mady said, making a face.
“I don’t either.” I replied. “But we can just get hot dogs without the chili.” It sounded like a good idea to me, and way cheaper too!
“I don’t like hot dogs.” She said finally, turning back to the line selling chicken strips and corn dogs.
I could hardly argue with her. If she didn’t like hot dogs, I couldn’t force her to eat one. No matter how short the chili dog line was.
When we finally reached the front of the line, Mady ordered a corn dog.
“I thought you didn’t like hot dogs?” I asked…that nagging irritation coming back with a vengeance. I could have saved time and money by getting a hot dog in the other line.
“Corn dogs aren’t hot dogs.” She said with a straight face.
Just for the record…corn dogs are ABSOLULTELY hot dogs. Hot dogs dipped in batter and fried rather than tucked into a bun.
Mady slathered her “corn dog” in ketchup and ate it from its stick while I ate my horrible chicken strips, wishing I had jumped out of the line to get a naked chili dog after all. Just about then, Mike wandered back with his bowl of red beans and rice (the healthiest thing he could find apparently) and we set out to investigate the rest of the sights.
There was a wild life sanctuary exhibit hidden inside a large tent, and after spending two dollars each, we found ourselves looking through cages at the rear ends of a black bear, a mountain lion, and a groundhog. The groundhog managed to remind me of my failed diet attempts during the six more weeks of winter, which made me crave the apple dumpling I’d seen as we entered the gates roughly three quarters of an hour earlier. We renewed our quest to find the sweets, and wandered through the hot sun to find the holy grail of apple treats.
There were tents with fried pies, tents with caramel apples, tents with apple cider, and tents with apples in bags, but not a single tent that had apple dumplings (a la mode). I felt like I was wandering through the desert searching for water. The hot midday sun beat down on us, cancelling out the coolness of the fall air. I had left my hat in the car, and I could feel my skin burning. I just wanted my apple treat so we could go home.
We aimlessly wandered by tents selling souvenirs, but the only souvenirs I would have liked to have purchased were the giant bears and owls being created on site by a man in a cage in the center of the midway. He was carving the waist high statues out of tree stumps with a chainsaw. He wore a leather mask and heavy gloves and it sort of reminded me of a horror movie…without any of the blood.
We were about to abandon our quest and leave the festival when (on our way to the exit) we stumbled upon the tent with the apple dumplings a la mode.
We got in line, mouths watering, and gladly paid five dollars each for our highly sought after prizes. We wandered to the fringes of the festivities to find a set of bleachers along the fence where we could sit and eat our treats in peace.
The thing about cravings is…sometimes once you get what you were longing for…you realize it wasn’t really worth the wait.
They weren’t bad per se. As Mike said while we were eating…I make a better crust. And the apples were a little too tart. And is there ever really enough ice cream on a hot piece of pie? Not really. But we had gotten what we came for…even if that wasn’t what we realized we were coming for. We didn’t leave with anything more than what we came with…but somehow we had spent a lot of money just the same. After buying power steering fluid, half a tank of gas, paying for parking, and gate admission, plus the wild life sanctuary, three meals with drinks, and three apple dumplings a la mode, we were out more than a hundred dollars.
Those turned out to be the most expensive apple dumplings I have ever had.
I did get a few pictures of a bear butt, a mountain lion tail, and a sleeping groundhog (I think that’s all they do) for my troubles.
Oh, and one pretty decent blog…priceless!
Until the next time…I’ll be going on a diet!