One thing that makes a sizzling hot summer bearable is knowing change is coming. Days shorten and temps drop, there’s a crispness in the air — even the light seems sharper. After Labor Day, fall festival season is only a pumpkin-spice-latte sip away. There’s no need to head ITP to get your fest fix, Gwinnett has plenty of events to choose from. So, throw on your favorite college or pro football jersey — or whatever makes you feel festive — and go check these out.
ROCK’N RIBVILLE – SEPT. 16
For this one-day event, Lawrenceville transforms into RIBVILLE — and yes, it’ll be Rock’n! In its 11th year, the city‘s flagship event will be entering its fourth year as a sanctioned BBQ Competition by the largest competitive barbeque organization in the world, the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The brisket and ribs will be flying as both pro and amateur teams vie for BBQ bragging rights. As for the Rock’n, country music singers Rodney Atkins and Adam Craig will perform, as will local singer/songwriter Mia Green.
SUWANEE FEST – SEPT. 16-17
Preceded by the 17th annual Suwanee Fest 5K/10K on Sep. 9 (the races are timed one hour apart so crazy hardcore runners can do both races if they wish) the heart of this two-day extravaganza is the parade on Saturday morning (Sept. 16). “Celebration of Community” is the theme for this traditional one-mile flotilla of floats that meanders brightly down Main Street and into Town Center Park. Inside the park, festival exhibitors include fine artists, craftspeople, food vendors and several local non-profits. A Family Fun Zone loaded with activities and rides will keep little ones laughing, while a full schedule of family-friendly music and dance performers promises a memorable festival soundtrack.
DULUTH FALL FESTIVAL – SEPT. 30 – OCT. 1
Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it. Journey cover band Departure kicks things off Saturday (Sept. 23), followed by a full-fledged carnival with rides and games from the 28th through Oct. 1st. Can’t lure your hubby away from his man cave? Tell him there’ll be live college football games broadcast under the tent in Man’s Corner. Live music on two stages will feature oldies, soul, Americana, blues and classic rock cover bands. This marks this fest’s 35th anniversary, so this isn’t these folks’ first rodeo — they know their fall festivals.
LILBURN DAZE ARTS & CRAFTS FESTIVAL – OCT. 14
Folks keep coming back year after year (this marks the 44th annual event) and consider this festival more like a family reunion. Hosted by the Lilburn Woman’s Club, this non-profit event is super family-friendly, with tons of games and activities for kids, as well as a convoy of food trucks for all tastes. Admission is free, as is parking and a shuttle.
GRAYSON BLUES & BREWS – OCT. 21
The website for this 8th annual event proclaims “All your favorite crafted beer, great music, and all your favorite people … all in one place!” Sounds like a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Past years have featured a dizzying lineup of more than 150 craft beers, and this year is no different. As you sip your way through the myriad malty and hoppy offerings, enjoy the soulful sounds of Otis Redding III (Otis Redding’s son!) who for more than 25 years has followed in his famous father’s footsteps. Tribute — Allman Brothers tribute band — provides the extended jams. This is a 21-and-over event, naturally.