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.

Tennessee Aquarium’s Family-Friendly AquaScarium IX Is Oct. 28

The Tennessee Aquarium’s annual family-friendly Halloween party, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28, will take on a “monstrous” theme in honor of the newly opened Monster Fish exhibit. Both Aquarium buildings and River Place (The building where Monster Fish is located.) will be packed with spooky — but not too spooky — fun for “bouys” and “ghouls” during this year’s celebration.  ... (click for more)

Tennessee Aquarium Has Underwater Pumpkin Carving On Saturdays

Tennessee Aquarium guests can see underwater pumpkin carving demonstrations each Saturday at 11 a.m. throughout October in the River Journey building. Costumed SCUBA divers will make weekend appearances for the rest of the month.  Lots of costumed divers will be seen during the AquaScarium family Halloween Party at the Aquarium. Pirates, mermaids, and super heroes will be ... (click for more)

Man Being Pursued By Catoosa County Deputies Is Killed After Crash At Ringgold Road Overpass

A man who was being pursued by Catoosa County deputies was killed late Monday night when he crashed his vehicle at the Ringgold Road overpass. The interstate was shut down for an extended period after the accident at 11:20 p.m. The truck driven by the man careened off the overpass and landed on the northbound lanes of I-75. The truck hit the center wall and caught fire. ... (click for more)

Gang Member, 22, Shot In The Arm On Wilcox Boulevard Early Tuesday Morning

A 22-year-old man was shot in the arm in the 1800 block of Wilcox Boulevard early Tuesday morning. Just after midnight, Chattanooga Police responded to a report of shots fired. Upon arrival, police located Jakobi Buthelezi Johnson suffering from a very minor, single gunshot wound. Hamilton County EMS transported the victim to a local hospital for treatment. The victim ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Southerners Sing

Barry Norris plays the organ at Birmingham’s East Lake United Methodist Church and two days ago the church hosted what we used to call “A Singing on the Grounds.” Today it is called a “Hymnfest” and, believe it or not, it is has to be just as fun today as it was 100 years ago when our forefathers tied their horse and wagon to a tree. It just so happens I know a little bit about ... (click for more)