Helen, Georgia is a fascinating and beautiful place and a real tribute to creativity in tourism initiatives. With a population of around 500, Helen is the third most visited city in all of Georgia. Helen was a dying lumber town in January of 1969 when three local businessmen met to discuss the future of their town. They wondered how they could attract tourism to the area, and thought maybe if they spruced up Main Street a bit, they might entice people to stop for a night or a meal on their way to or from the mountains. One of these men contacted John Kollock, an artist whose family had roots in the region. They asked John if he could make a few sketches and suggest a good direction for the town. John looked at the town, nestled in a beautiful mountain valley, and it reminded him of Bavarian towns he had seen in Germany during his time in the service. His sketches were well received and by that fall, the town had a new facade. Tourists started to come, and have kept coming. Today, over three million people visit Helen every year, so I’d say tourism is working for them. There is plenty of normal tourist trap hullabaloo around town, but some really beautiful buildings as well. Heck, even the Huddle House looks like it fell out of a Fairy Tale. You can get a pretty decent German meal, and definitely a Liter of good German beer. I really loved seeing this place sprucing up for Christmas and my camera loved it as well. I thought I was going to make this a quick stop and ended up there for hours. Helen is a charming little town, well worth a detour. I’m glad I visited. I hope you enjoy these photos from Helen!
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If you've been following my travels, you know how much respect I have for traditional arts and crafts. In an era of mass-produced crafts imported from China and sold at every Pier One and Crate & Barrel, I consider myself very fortunate to stumble across someone using traditional methods to produce hand-crafted items. When I was introduced to Sarah Brown this past weekend as someone doing traditional letterpress printing, I knew I had to find out more. Sarah and I sat down to discuss her craft and some of the projects she's been working on. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became with the process and the more respect I had for the patience required to create these products.