Ruthorford’s Spring Fling!!!!
By Shanon Grey
If nothing else, Ruthorford, Georgia loves its traditions. Leaping forward a whole ‘nother hour with most of the country gives everyone another hour of daylight to enjoy themselves, which means the townsfolk of Ruthorford are also leaping forward in preparation for Ruthorford’s Spring Fling. This festival, which started many years ago, evolved into a week-long event, giving all the artisans of the area time to display and sell their crafts and goodies. A week-long event also gives visitors enough time to satisfy their curiosity. Ruthorford is a very private town, so when it opens its doors, the curious come in droves.
For years, there has been much debate among the Ruthorford Spring Fling Committee members concerning the length of the event. However, debates among committee members have become a long-standing tradition. Get a group of “descendants” together, and it will take twice as long to make a decision as it would for one person. It generally requires much debate, discussion, good-natured arguing, and plenty of food.
This year has been no different. The argument that ending the Spring Fling on Sunday wouldn’t offer everyone enough time to enjoy all the festivities seemed to be the consensus. And, as had been decided every previous year, the committee agreed that the Spring Fling should be a week-long event. When someone suggested making a week the “rule,” and thus avoiding the debate, all were opposed. So, the debates will continue for the foreseeable future, as will the food. As was finally decided, for this year, Ruthorford’s Spring Fling will run (just as it did last year) from the start of spring, March 20th, go through the weekend, and end on the 29th. They wanted to give everyone that extra weekend.
The Committee then had to choose subcommittees, which report back to the main committee about decorations, booths, activities, and, of course, food. This year there are four subcommittees—surprise, surprise: decorations, booths, activities, and, of course, food. Everything must center around the theme, which this year emphasizes the naturally abundant products of Ruthorford: muscadine grapes, apples, and pecans. In fact, many wanted to call it the Muscapplecan Festival, because, in truth, the theme has remained the same from year to year. Yet, this year, a twist was thrown in — lavender. Seems like the fields behind The Shoppe of Spells are abundant with lavender since Morgan arrived. In fact, all manner of things green are abundant since her arrival. Still, she insisted the theme remain the same, concentrating on the big three. According to Morgan, lavender can be their accent. That’s just like her. That amazing young woman manages to pull everything together.
But, back to my story. Why those main three, you ask? Muscadine grapes are natural to the area and grow in abundance on the sloping hills. Their thick skins protect the sweet goodness that is perfect for cooking, crafting, and wine making. Apples, thought to have arrived in the area as early as De Soto’s visit in the late sixteenth century, also appreciate the sloping runoff and altitude, and give rise to many foods and crafts. Be sure and sample a tart, turnover or pie from the sisters, Misses Grace and Alice. There are none like theirs. Pecan trees, natural to the area, grow in groves that matured decades ago. Many of the locals, beginning centuries ago with the original Native Americans, produce food, wine, cider, and crafts from these three products.
On the rare years that Easter falls during the fling, the little church throws open its doors to accommodate the visitors and, after Sunday Brunch and an Easter egg hunt, everyone joins in for Fling fun. However, Ruthorfordians, being what they are, would much rather have Easter occur separately from the Spring Fling ~ not for religious reasons, but because that way they can have another reason to celebrate.
This year, Abbott Bed & Breakfast will be overflowing with guests. Returning guests made reservations last year for this. Abbott Bed and Breakfast serves “theme” specialties throughout the week. Apple fritters, ooey gooey pecan rolls or biscuits with muscadine jelly will grace the buffet table. If you haven’t tried it, their pecan-crusted catfish, another local fare, is exquisite. This year, lavender tea and biscuits grace the tables, as well. Teresa Abbott-Ruthorford, the owner of the bed and breakfast and the unofficial Mayor of Ruthorford, can be seen greeting guests, managing the restaurant, and making sure all the vendors have plenty of refreshments available for themselves and visitors.
All the shops bring in new merchandise and the booths are opened and decorated by residents celebrating the beauty of spring.. Vendors line the sidewalks, as well as the median, ready to serve their specialties or display their crafts.
Chapters, the local bookstore, run by the fae-like beauty, Brenna McKenzie, and her husband, David, offers many books on the delicacies as well as folklore about the area and people, except the descendants. You have to be a descendant to know about the descendants. And, even then, you might not get all the facts. What you might like is the leather bound edition of Local Legends that Brenna has put together, which includes the Legend of the Snowy Owl, as well as others.
The Shoppe of Spells, owned by Dorian Drake and Morgan Briscoe, offers candles, soaps and wonderful fragrances created on the premises for the festival from muscadines, apples and nuts, and incorporating herbs from the cottage garden in the back. Just stepping into the shop teases your senses.
Elements, the only Native American specialty store, is always a favorite. Ophelia, or Dink to her friends, runs the shop and is always willing to share more local lore with visitors. Carvings, statues and wares of apple and pecan wood go quickly, so be sure to stop by early. And don’t forget to get one of the beautiful grapevine wreaths.
This year, everyone in Ruthorford is very excited. A new tea room and shop has opened on Main–The Sassafras Tea Room, quickly nicknamed Sassy’s. Competition for Abbott Bed and Breakfast, you wonder? Not in the least. In fact, they’ve started supplying tea and goodies to Abbott B & B and vice versa. It’s all one happy family in Ruthorford. Anyway, they just opened an outdoor patio room, overlooking the fields of lavender. And, it looks like the week of the Spring Fling will have perfect weather for al fresco dining. Better make your reservations soon, the patio is almost booked solid.
The school grounds offer a perfect location for amusements and the auditorium is large enough for shows. Lucky for all, spring break always falls during the Spring Fling. Tickets for rides can be gotten just about any place in town or on the amusement grounds. Remember, all proceeds go to Safe Harbor in Virginia, run by Jenn Davis.
So, if you find yourself in the lower mountains of Georgia during the week of March 20th to March 29th, drop on by—Ruthorford awaits.