Author Archive

Hay Days in St. Marys

October 7th, 2011 by Mckenzie

Do you want to "Build-A-Scarecrow"?

 Hay Days comes to St. Marys every year at the beginning of October. It is a month of fun activities for fall. The main street in St. Marys, Osborne Street, will be decorated for the season with scarecrows from businesses, individuals and organizations. Each year locals have a great time coming up with the most innovative and creative scarecrows. It seems like the “population” in town  has increased with the new residents and there is hay covering everything! It is a fun way to not only get involved with your community but to also get out and enjoy this great weather.

 The annual Hay Days will take place October 8-29th, with numerous events throughout the month in downtown St. Marys, including the “Build-A-Scarecrow” event which takes place Saturday, October 8th. You can build your own scarecrow to take home or put on display downtown. This event is held at Orange Hall and will last from 10am-12pm. When you register, you will receive a “Scarecrow Kit” for $20 ($25 at door, if available) that will contain everything you need to build your own. Registration is encouraged because this activity is limited to the first 50 people. Also, come out and enjoy all the hard work and creative thinking that went into building these scarecrows during the “Scarecrow Stroll” on Tuesday, October 11th from 5 to 7pm. Tuesday night during the Scarecrow Stroll dress up in your best costumes. There will be trick or treating, hay rides and bounce houses.  There will also be a haunted history tour on October 28th from 6 to 9pm. This walking tour includes stops at the Oak Grove cemetery, Submarine Museum, Orange Hall and other stops along the way. October 29th will end the Hay Days but one last event takes place. The inaugural Last Saturday on the Waterfront from 3 to 9pm which will encourage people to visit local businesses in St. Marys. All of these events are great for the whole family. 

The scarecrows will be around town all month long so at anytime you could take your own stroll down Osborne Street to see all the really cool scarecrows. This is such a fun way for everyone to start the fall season, whether you build a  scarecrow or  just stroll down the street to enjoy all of them. The city of St. Marys during Hay Days would put anyone in an “I Love Fall” kind of  mood!

For more information on the St. Marys Hay Days Celebration, contact the St. Marys Downtown Development Authority, (912) 882-8111 or

St. Marys Rock Shrimp Festival 2011

September 20th, 2011 by Mckenzie

Rock Shrimp Anyone?

Every year St. Marys hosts the Rock Shrimp Festival on the first Saturday in October. This year on October 1, 2011, it will be the 39th annual festival. The festival is all about our special rock shrimp found in the coastal waters of Georgia. With the St. Marys Kiwanis Club sponsoring this event, we look forward to food, games, entertainment, vendors and so much more. Bring the whole family and experience this fun filled festival that only St. Marys has to offer.

Events for the festival include a pancake breakfast from 7:30 to 9:30am, the 5k and 10k run will also start at 7:30am, the parade starts at 10:00am, and of course the Rock Shrimp dinner plates will be served from 11:00am to 5:00pm. The rock shrimp dinners not only include the rock shrimp but they also have regular shrimp, fish, cole slaw and hushpuppies made from a “secret” recipe. To buy tickets in advance for the pancake breakfast or the dinner plates, you can go to any of the following: St. Marys welcome center, Kingsland visitor center,  St. Marys Economic Building, Camden Printing, Tribune & Georgian and Once Upon a Bookseller, or from members of the Kiwanis Club of St. Marys. If you are interested in filling out an application for the run , click here.
Along with the parade at 10:00am, there will be entertainment at the waterfront park and throughout the festival. Vendors line the streets of downtown St. Marys with a wonderful variety from arts and crafts to specialty items and also our little shops here in the village are always fun to visit. The food at any festival is delicious but to add the rock shrimp dinners, it’s like a true southeastern Georgia festival made complete. This is a great way to spend your first Saturday in October, the beginning of fall. Not only do you get to enjoy the Rock Shrimp Festival but you also get involved with the community and see what makes St. Marys so special.
 All proceeds from the festival will go to the funding for the children’s programs and other programs that the Kiwanis Club sponsors, such as the Thanksgiving baskets that are put together and presented to families in need or gifts at Christmas time for children in the community. Come one, come all for a delightful day!

Annual Catfish Festival in Kingsland, GA

August 25th, 2011 by Mckenzie

Who doesn't like pie?

The Labor Day weekend Catfish Festival is held every year in Kingsland, Georgia. This year it will be held September 3rd through the 5th. This popular festival is one of the biggest events in southeast Georgia. With more than 65,000 people attending over the holiday weekend, there is always plenty of catfish to go around. It is said that there is over 10,000 pounds of farm-raised catfish cooked up and served for this fun event. The delicious catfish dinners are available beginning at 12:00 noon on Saturday and Sunday and 11:00am on Monday Labor Day.

Food vendors along with arts & crafts, antiques & collectibles and vendors selling art and other unique items line the streets of downtown Kingsland. There is plenty of entertainment too at this three day outdoor festival. In addition to the catfish, remember there are plenty of food options including deep-fried onion blossoms, oriental fare, barbecue, homemade ice cream, etc.

Several events occur during the weekend including the 5K run, car and truck show, parade and also entertainment from many different local and regional bands. For a full list of the events and times, go to The festival does a nice job offering things to do for the children as well as for the adults too. The Catfish Festival closes down every day at 6pm. 

On Monday morning the festival is not winding down by any stretch of the imagination, there is a big pancake breakfast sponsored by The Lions Club followed by the awesome parade which starts at 10am and heads down Highway 17 into Kingsland – the parade features our award winning high school band and our state championship high school football team – just what a hometown parade should have!

Overall, this is a great festival for family and friends to enjoy. Between the big parade on Monday and the secret recipe for the catfish, you just can’t go wrong attending this festival for a day or for all weekend. With this event being only 15 minutes from downtown St. Marys, you could enjoy a day at the festival and also visit Cumberland Island and tour the historic district of St. Marys too – what a fun holiday weekend!

Cumberland Island Guided Van Tours

August 7th, 2011 by Mckenzie

First African Baptist Church

 The National Park Service has announced they will be starting the guided van tours on Cumberland Island National Seashore. Starting August 11th, they will take visitors on a 16-1/2 mile long tour of the island, stopping at places like the First African Baptist Church, where John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were married, and Plum Orchard, a mansion with 106 rooms built in the 1800’s. This tour lets you see all the island sites in a single day without walking, but it is a very physically demanding trip as the main road is a dirt road with washboard surfaces in many areas.

Visitors who are taking the “Land and Legacy” tour will spend about 45 minutes or longer at Plum Orchard depending on other stops. Plum Orchard was built by the Carnegie family in the late 1800’s and the  mansion was donated by the family to the National Park Service in 1971.  The mansion still remains in good condition in part due to the volunteers helping to maintain it.  The visitors will be given a tour of the mansion from the spacious bathrooms with unique fixtures, the beautiful Tiffany glass pieces, the lovely wallpaper to other antiques spread throughout the home. The indoor swimming pool and elevator are especially interesting to see because they are original and ahead of their time.
The First African Baptist Church became popular with the outside world when JFK Jr. and Carolyn got married there in September 1996. With the Kennedy wedding  being only 20 minutes of the church’s history though, it is interesting to see what else has happened there. During the 1890’s the Settlement was established for African American workers.  The little church sits on the northern end of the island about 17 miles from the Sea Camp dock which is where the tour begins.
The Park Service recommends that visitors should bring their own food and drinks in a small bag or backpack as you will be gone for 6 hours. Restrooms stops will be made but will be limited. The tours will be $15 for adults and $12 for Seniors and Children – these costs are in addition to the ferry ride and the park entrance fee.  The Cumberland Island van tours will leave Sea Camp at 9:45am, just after the first ferry docks, and be given rain or shine. To make your reservations for the Cumberland Island ferry or the van tours, please call 912-882-4335, Monday- Friday 10am to 4pm. This truly is a great way to see Cumberland Island National Seashore. Come prepared for a wonderful adventure! 
For more information on the ” Lands and Legacies Tour” go to

Okefenokee Re-opens After Fires

July 28th, 2011 by Mckenzie

American Alligator In The Okefenokee Swamp

Due to the spread of wild fires, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge had been shut down for over a month. Well, lucky for us, we can now officially say they are back in business. Although the fires caused extensive damage in the swamp, they also added more unique characteristics to the land & wilderness area. The smoke affected many surrounding towns including our own St. Marys. Many firefighters went to work on the fires, battling night and day to try to contain them. We had a few good rains that also helped to put the fires out. With the re-opening of Okefenokee NWR, not everything is available yet but there are many things to do from guided boat/kayak/canoe tours to driving/walking trails. Reservations are required for the guided kayak or canoe tours,  please call at least 24 hours in advance. The park opens a half hour before sunrise and the first guided boat tour will depart around 9am; the last boat leaves around 5pm and the swamp closes at 7:30pm. Tours last about an hour and generally there is one every hour. If you are interested in canoeing or kayaking on your own, Okefenokee Adventures has resumed rentals. Private canoes and kayaks may be launched but, at this time, the refuge rangers do not recommend the use of  private motorized boats because of the low water levels.  The Okefenokee and its prairie is a great authentic swamp homestead. While visiting the swamp you could run across many kinds of critters from American alligators to great blue herons to cute and playful otters. It really is a different and special experience now because of  the fires. You can see first hand how the fires altered the swamp and how fast it is recovering – there is even some green growth showing through the burn. If you decide to stop and have some lunch, there is the Camp Cornelia Café. They serve sandwiches, salads and vegetarian fare and they can also prepare group meals, as well as cookouts and shrimp boils. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Okefenokee from St. Marys. For more information and prices on all these activities go to The visitors center, where the films and exhibits are, is open daily from 9am to 5pm. If you have any questions, please call the visitors center at 912-496-7156.

P.S. Do not forget your cameras as you never know what you might see.

Cumberland Island Campsites

July 3rd, 2011 by Mckenzie

One of the great camp sites on Cumberland Island

Camping is a great outdoor activity for anyone. The wild horses and gorgeous beach lines make for an amazing camping trip.

Cumberland Island National Seashore has many campsites.  Sea camp is the one developed campground with showers and bathrooms, and the rest are backcountry campsites.  Stafford beach is a primitive campground right near the beach. Brickhill Bluff is a lovely backcountry camp site. It overlooks the marsh and has amazing sunset views.

Reservations are required to camp on Cumberland Island. Trail maps are provided. For more information, contact the National Park Service, 912-882-4336.