Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chicken City

Gainesville, GA, is often known as "The Queen City of the Mountains" and sometimes "The Poultry Capital of the World." This weekend, as we discovered, the latter epithet was succinctly condensed to "Chicken City" and plastered all over town because it was time for Gainesville's 9th Annual Spring Chicken Festival. Kimberly and I were in the midst of it, at least for part of the day yesterday, being as we took my mom down there for her class reunion at Gainesville Country Club. Mum grew up in Gainesville, and, as kids, my brother and I spent lots of time there visiting our grandparents. The poultry industry was indeed Gainesville's economic lifeblood in the mid 20th century, and it's still a fairly prominent business, as evidenced by the big turnout of both vendors and attendees at the festival. Dozens of local restaurants and other businesses set up booths to sell their unique chicken concoctions — and compete with each other for the best recipes — in the Great Chicken Cook-off. Brugger and I sampled quite a bit of the available fare, which ranged from hickory smoked wings, Korean barbecue wings, chicken egg rolls, a variety of chicken salads, roasted garlic-parmesan wings, grilled orange-sesame wings... you can just about name it. I rightly enjoyed it, though I do believe Kimberly has had enough chicken to last her for most of this life. I must confess, it bothers me not a whit that that we missed out on the Chicken City Parade and most of the subsequent live entertainment.
Brugger lurking at a hidden, iron-gated stairway
just off Gainesville's downtown square.
Eerie screams were heard wafting down from
the darkness — hence the nice lady's smile.

Still, we spent a crapload of time, on numerous separate excursions, wandering about Gainesville's downtown square — an appealing, thriving little mecca of shops, restaurants, bars, and geocaches. Last year's visit (see "Let's Do the Time Warp Again," April 9, 2012)  was the first opportunity I'd had to spend much time in Gainesville since my grandparents died in the late 1980s. This year, our schedule was considerably tighter, since we devoted a fair amount of time to taking Mum around to places where she had spent so much of her youth, but hardly less enjoyable. Mum's reunion was last night, and she had a great time, which more than warmed my heart to see. Kimberly and I had several decent meals in town, the easy winner being last night's at Re-cess Southern Gastro Pub, which we had discovered on last year's trip. Unfortunately, it's louder than hell inside, but they have a few tables in a covered area out front, to which we availed ourselves on both our visits. Honorable mentions go to Poor Richards, where we had dinner with Mum's first cousin, Mark Bell, and his wife, Sylvia; and 2 Dog, a nice little hidey hole right next to Bell's Cleaners, the dry cleaning plant that my grandfather and his brothers ran for the better part of the 20th century. Kimberly and I also enjoyed sampling some drinks at Scott's lounge (where, again, the sidewalk seating proved most enjoyable) and at Luna's lounge, in Hunt Tower, formerly the grand Dixie Hunt Hotel.

Since last spring, the new, scenic Midtown Greenway has been added to Gainesville's numerous beautiful outdoor settings. (Yes, there was geocaching.) Ivey Terrace Park and the adjoining Wilshire trail system remain my longtime favorite places to hike and cache. When I was a kid, my brother and I loved to explore those woods and ride our bikes like mad fools down the trails, which back then were just dirt and rocks; nowadays, they're all nicely paved (though I kinda preferred the natural trails) and there's a gorgeous overlook built into the very steep, densely wooded hillside.

Unfortunately, the trip back today was miserable, for the blinding, driving rain never once let up, making me exhausted and cross (especially since it knocked me out of finding all but one of the caches I might have otherwise targeted). All in all, though, returning to Gainesville — the site of so many of the best memories of my life — was a pure joy, and I can't wait for another opportunity.

We're done here.
Reproducing — more or less — last year's pose at Re-cess Southern Gastro Pub
The photo is a bit blurry, alas, but at 2 Dog, the walls are paneled entirely with wine corks.
Nice lady taunting the photographer on the new pedestrian bridge over Jesse Jewell Parkway
Nice she may, but there are, in fact, times that Brugger does need a little adjustment.
Sometimes I am obliged to haul ass after the fact, but one does what one must.
Grave site of my great, great uncle, Congressman Thomas Montgomery Bell, who took no
guff from anyone. Once, sometime in the 1930s, when a driver cut him off on the highway,
Uncle Tom pursued the miscreant and shot his tires out.
Just a-swingin' at Ivey Terrace Park. Notice that the trees have grown completely
around the ends of the iron rod. (Near "Pole in a Tree 2," GC2WVCJ)

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