By LINDSAY HARPER
BLUE RIDGE, Ga – Fannin County has become 2013’s center of tourism in North Georgia with its beautiful mountains, outdoor activities and cabin getaways attracting thousands of people every year to this small town.
Why visit Fannin County?
Fannin County only has a population of around 23,000, but this does not stop the county from being a tourism hub with the town of Blue Ridge serving as its central destination. The size is not what draws the tourists, according to Rob Kaser, a Fannin County Chamber of Commerce board member.
“It is not the dynamic of the county that makes it successful. It is the county itself that makes it successful,” said Kaser.
Blue Ridge is also conveniently located near Atlanta, Tennessee and North Carolina.
“We’re Atlanta’s backyard,” said Jode Hanson, Fannin County Welcome Center’s manager.
People come to Blue Ridge often to get away from the city and relax. This is where the cabin business thrives. Fannin County offers thousands of cabin choices from various rental services that attract thousands of customers every year who want to experience the mountain atmosphere.
Fannin County’s motto is “Georgia’s Blue Ridge Experience.”
“We need to focus on giving tourists a good service and a good experience,” said Kaser.
The goal of the county is to bring a full experience to its tourists. Part of that experience is visiting all of the tourist attractions the town has to offer.
What to do in Fannin County
Fannin offers many activities for people to indulge in while visiting: historic downtown Blue Ridge, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and Mercier Orchards.
Historic downtown Blue Ridge offers various shops and restaurants as well as historical buildings and scenery.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway runs through downtown Blue Ridge and for those who want to experience a classic form of transportation.
Mercier Orchards provides fresh food for visitors with a full bakery and a U-Pick event that allows customers to pick their own fruit.
Rafting, kayaking, hiking and zip-lining are also popular sports among people who want to experience nature in Blue Ridge alongside Lake Blue Ridge, which serves as an attraction for water sports during the summer months.
Blue Ridge is also home to one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in Georgia, the Swan Drive-In.
“The Chamber of Commerce does a survey every year to determine the top things people like to do in Fannin,” said Hanson.
The citizens of Blue Ridge want to accommodate their guests to feel welcome in their hometown.
The future of Fannin County
Fannin County’s annual tourism is growing with every passing year. Mercier Orchards had to build a new seven-acre parking lot last year to accommodate these large groups of people.
“The challenge is: how do you keep that small-town feel as you continue to grow to accommodate the people that are coming?” said Kaser.
The goal of the county is to continue building infrastructures while keeping the small-town atmosphere.
The music scene is also on the rise in Fannin County. Rob Kaser recently took on another endeavor and started his own entertainment booking agency, Rob Kaser Entertainment, to book music for venues in Fannin County. Kaser hopes to further develop the already strong music scene in the county.
Fannin County will always thrive as long as its tourism is thriving since the county is heavily dependent on the tourism industry.
“Fannin County is the best county in the world,” said Kaser. “We are very fortunate. Fannin County has a lot of blessing to it.”