Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Events Listing For January - March 2013

Monday, December 3, 2012 - by Suzanne Moon

Here is the Top 20 Events listing for January, February and March 2013 from the twelve southeastern states that make up the Southeast Tourism Society. The STS Top 20 Events program began in 1985 and is judged quarterly.

Please contact Suzanne Moon at for more information.

Top 20

Winter 2013


Jan. 3-Feb. 12 Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana Southwest Louisiana, La. 800-456-7952 More than 50 krewes make sure the whole family has something to celebrate. The excitement kicks into full gear with parades, cook-offs, balls, galas, live music, gumbo and more!

Jan. 5 Mississippi Blues Marathon/Half Marathon Jackson, Miss. 601-624-7882 Amateur and professional runners alike celebrate musicians who have shaped the sound of the blues. Spectators are welcome to experience southern hospitality, various arts and crafts vendors and delicious food.

Jan. 6-Feb. 12 Mardi Gras Season Baton Rouge, La. 225-382-3577 Celebrate the season with various krewes, each featuring decorated floats, marching bands, costumed canines and dancing.

Jan. 9-Feb. 13 Carnival on the Coast Gulf Coast, Miss. 228-896-6699 An exciting season for locals and visitors of all ages. Elaborately decorated floats throw “treasures” to eager bystanders as they enjoy 23 parades – each featuring 20 or more floats!

Jan. 11-12 55th Annual Louisiana Fur & Wildlife Festival Cameron, La. 800-456-7952 Local natural industries are celebrated during the area's coldest and oldest fest. Experience the exhibits, trap setting contests, muskrat skinning, oyster shucking and dog trials. Enjoy parades, pageants, dances and Cajun music.

Jan. 17-21 Dream 365 MLK Celebration Columbus, Miss. 662-425-1234 Honoring the legacy of MLK Jr. with numerous events including musical entertainment, student drawings and essays, step-shows, choir concerts, cultural exhibits, a breakfast banquet, jazz gala and much more.

Jan. 18-26 The Augusta Futurity Augusta, Ga. 706-823-3362 The largest and richest cutting-horse event east of the Mississippi is seasoned with Southern hospitality and features western dance, a quarter horse sale and an authentic cowboy parade.

Jan. 25-26 Kentucky Bluegrass Music Kickoff Lebanon, Ky. 270-402-3835 People of all ages will enjoy a variety of events including live entertainment, dance, crafts, vendors and a dinner buffet. Partake in the many workshops designed for a range of musical abilities and instruments.

Jan. 26 Annual Kumquat Festival Dade City, Fla. 352-567-3769 Enjoy tasty recipes and treats, an arts and crafts show, antique car show, a quilt show, a farmer’s market and live music. Kids are sure to enjoy the rides and animals at the “Kiddie Koral”.

Jan. 26-27 Cape Fear Model Railroad Society's 16th Annual Model Railroad Show & Sale Wilmington, N.C. 910-270-2696 Indulge in the model railroading hobby. Vendors offer trains, scenic supplies and railroading memorabilia. Free modeling clinics, door prizes and raffles.

Jan. 29-Feb. 2 Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo Lake Charles, La. 800-456-7952 Bring your fanciest spurs and enter the Miss Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo Queen’s pageant. Enjoy professional rodeo performances and the stick-horse rodeo events including barrel racing and bronc riding.

Feb. 1-12 Bayou Lafourche Mardi Gras Lafourche Parish, La. 877-537-5800 A Mardi Gras celebration like no other! More than 15 parades, carnival balls, parties and tableaus. Bring the family and dine on delicious bar-be-que or seafood boils along the parade route.

Feb. 7-9 The North Carolina Jazz Festival Wilmington, N.C. 910-793-1111 One of the largest traditional jazz festivals in the Southeast! Listen to the melodic sounds of Dr. Frank Bongiorno’s ensemble and tribute to “Charlie Parker with Strings,” featuring numerous violins.

Feb. 15-17 Dogwood Arts House & Garden Show Knoxville, Tenn. 865-637-4561 The largest house and garden show in East Tennessee for gardening enthusiasts.  10,000 square-feet of fully landscaped gardens and blooming flowers, more than 200 exhibitors, flower markets, interior design RoomScapes and a lovely Wine & Cheese Garden.

Feb. 15-17 8th Annual Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival Punta Gorda, Fla. 941-639-3720 Enjoy the sounds of jazz and tastes of Punta Gorda in one of the most picturesque waterfront settings. This year’s celebration features renowned jazz entertainer Sergio Mendes.

Feb. 21-23 Georgia National Rodeo Perry, Ga. 478-987-3247 Cowboys and cowgirls from all over compete in major rodeo events and specialty acts, such as, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and bull riding. Also features specialty acts, rodeo clown and bull fighters.

Feb. 21-24 Oxford Film Festival Oxford, Miss. 877-560-3456 Educates and entertains! Experience independent film and the culture and heritage of the city.

Feb. 23 7th Annual BBQ Throwdown & Festival D'Iberville, Miss. 228-392-9734 Taste savory chicken, ribs and brisket as teams compete for more than $5,000 in cash and prizes. Live entertainment, face painting, arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities and games and more.

Feb. 28-March 3 BB&T Charleston Wine & Food Festival Charleston, S.C. 843-727-9998 Celebrate a local food culture rich in tradition. Infuses home-grown flavor with the most celebrated chefs, culinary professionals and winemakers in the world.

Feb. 28-March 10 Florida Strawberry Festival Plant City, Fla. 813-752-9194 Enjoy ripe, luscious strawberry themed cuisine alongside the local berry farmers. Features a karaoke contest, rides, arts and crafts vendors and pageants.


March 1-3 2013 News Sentinel Women Today Knoxville, Tenn. 865-342-6855 With hundreds of exhibits, trendy fashion shows, cooking demonstrations and informative seminars, there’s something for every woman! New this year is Mother/Daughter Day, Senior Day and Family Fun Day.

March 1-3 Kentucky Crafted: The Market Lexington, Ky. 502-564-3757 Includes more than 150 artists offering jewelry, home décor, furniture, paintings, photographs and artisan foods as well as Kentucky-related books, CDs and DVDs. The whole family will enjoy performances and hands-on craft activities.

March 2-3 Jerry Brown Arts Festival Hamilton, Ala. 205-921-3632 Indulge in the art world as traditions of southern heritage, artistic legacies and local customs are honored.  Not only does this unique festival provide top-quality art in various forms, it also serves as a high-level art education opportunity for students.         

March 2-3 Amelia Island Garden Show Amelia Island, Fla. 904-491-4872 Take in nature’s brightest colors at Central Park in Fernandina Beach.  More than 50 vendors will provide an assortment of flowers, plants, fruit trees, shrubs and garden accessories, as well as brief presentations and expert advice.

March 4-9 Hilton Head International Piano Competition Hilton Head Island, S.C. 843-842-5880 Leave the rock n' roll at home and enjoy some real music! Come watch twenty talented young pianists, ages 13 through 17, compete for cash prizes and a coveted summer scholarship to a national music school.

March 4-9 Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival Hilton Head Island, S.C. 843-686-4944 A treat for wine lovers and gourmet foodies alike! Sample domestic and international wines as well as some of the Lowcountry’s best cuisine. Wine education, interactive displays, contests, grape stomping and healthy cooking demonstrations paired with wine will also be featured.

March 8-10 Independence Sicilian Heritage Festival Independence, La. 800-542-7520 Enjoy a variety of entertainment, cuisine and cultural experiences while helping to preserve the town of Independence’s Sicilian heritage.

March 9 Black Heritage Festival Lake Charles, La. 800-456-7952 Celebrate the achievements of African-Americans through cultural and performing arts.  Activities include live music from legendary Jazz and Gospel performers, African art and clothing, delicious Louisiana cuisine, games, contests, pageants and more.

March 15-17 Amite Oyster Festival Amite, La. 800-617-4501 Offers a weekend of family fun! Dine on fresh oysters prepared in various ways. Watch rodeo or listen to live entertainment from Cajun, country, rock and roll and reggae artists. Also offers carnival rides and various arts and crafts vendors.

March 15-17 Cape Fear Wildlife Expo Wilmington, N.C. 910-795-0292 Learn about hunting, fishing and the great outdoors! Exhibitors display handcrafted duck and turkey calls, jewelry, decoys, wildlife paintings and taxidermy. Visit the displays of trucks, boats and ATVs.

March 15-17 61st Annual Arts & Crafts Festival Fairhope, Ala. 251-621-8222 Behold the highest quality of arts and crafts from more than 200 national exhibitors. Visit the Festival Food Court for a taste of unique local cuisine while enjoying musical entertainment. 

March 15-17 Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show White Stone, Va. 804-435-6355 More than 80 exhibitors will offer unique wildfowl art in paintings, prints, decorative carvings and several other forms. Also featured are a carving competition, special demonstrations and hands-on activities for children.

March 16 7th Annual Grillin’ on the Green Biloxi, Miss. 228-435-6339 One of the Gulf Coast’s premier spring events! Enjoy grilling competitions, live entertainment, food, arts and crafts and children’s activities. The local St. Patrick’s Day parade passes in front of the festival, allowing everyone a chance to catch goodies from the floats.

March 16 Southwest Florida Reading Festival Fort Myers, Fla. 239-533-4826 Features presentations by two dozen bestselling authors, a marketplace with more than 80 vendors and programs and shows for kids and teens.

March 16-17 Shamrock City Lookout Mountain, Ga. 706-820-2531 Looking for the luck of the Irish? Come to Rock City's fantastic celebration of music, specialty beer, Irish food and Rock City’s famous fudge. Don’t miss the green waterfall!

March 17 First Ever Tenth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade Hot Springs National Park, Ark. A Grand Marshall will lead this parade of extravagant floats, celebrity look-a-likes, costumed dogs and Irish belly dancers. Held on the shortest street in the world, as declared by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Also included is the popular Arkansas Blarney Stone kissing contest.

March 21-24 Festival of Flowers Mobile, Ala. 251-639-2050 Visit more than 300,000 sq. feet of enchanting exhibits dedicated to the promotion of gardening and horticultural excellence while encouraging the preservation of the environment and conservation of natural resources. 

March 23-24 Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival Thibodaux, La. 985-448-4965 Experience toe-tapping music of the bayou, an arts and crafts fair and cultural demonstrations. Feast on the best in Louisiana cuisine!

March 23-24 Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival Conyers, Ga. 770-860-4190 Celebrate fun, family and tradition during the blooming of the cherry trees! Shop among hundreds of arts and crafts vendors, play in the 30,000 sq. foot children’s area, dine in the international food court and enjoy two stages of cultural performances.

March 31-April 13 Annual Spring Pilgrimage Columbus, Miss. 662-329-1191 This award-winning event is considered

one of the most authentic collections of historic home and garden tours in the South. Enjoy recreated activities of the 1800s complete with period attire.

27th Annual Southern Festival Of Books Begins This Friday In Nashville

As the colors of summer fade to fall, Nashville’s War Memorial Plaza and the downtown Nashville Public Library come to life in a dynamic celebration of the written word. The Southern Festival of Books, widely recognized as a fixture of fall in the South, will take place  Oct. 9 -11. The 2015 program welcomes back festival favorites, introduces new opportunities for festival-goers ... (click for more)

Tennessee Welcome Centers Showcase Local Makers

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development celebrates the state’s makers by partnering with Tennessee Craft to feature craft artists at all 14 Tennessee Welcome Centers across the state Oct. 2-11. Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam, serving as gonorary chairman, will be making stops for various events, displays and hands-on demonstrations.   The new tradition of Tennessee ... (click for more)

Woman Stabbed To Death On Hooker Road; Man Injured

A young woman was stabbed to death on Hooker Road early Friday morning and a man was injured. At approximately 1:54 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a stabbing at the 4000 block of Hooker Road. There police located an unidentified black female, believed to be in her twenties, deceased. A second person, an unidentified black male, was transported to a local hospital ... (click for more)

World Class Guitar Collection To Go On Display At The Choo Choo

A world class guitar collection is set to go on display permanently at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. "Songbirds," which is built around the collection of Lookout Mountain businessman Thorpe McKenzie, was introduced to the public on Thursday night. Invited guests at the Choo Choo heard Nashville guitar star Doyle Dykes perform in the Choo Choo's new Revelry Room. He played some ... (click for more)

Regulations As A Whole On Signal Mountain

A few years ago I was flying over Chattanooga on my way to Atlanta.  The sun had just come up and I enjoyed picking out Signal Mountain’s location, on Walden’s Ridge, in the morning light.  What was amazing was that I could not tell that a town existed under the tree canopy.  I hope that the same can be said 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.  During last ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We Must Learn To Tell

On July 4th of this year, FBI agents – acting on a tip -- arrested Alexander Ciccolo, a 23-year-old with known mental problems, as he carried a duffel bag full of automatic-attack weapons. Moments before, he had bought the illegal firearms from an undercover informant outside of Boston. As agents later scoured his apartment, they found bomb-making equipment including a pressure ... (click for more)