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10 resolutions to make the most of living in Forsyth County in 2019
FCN Kaleb East
Local high school students watch the sunrise on top of Sawnee Mountain. (Photo by Kaleb East)

‘Tis the season for resolutions, a time to reflect on the year past and resolve to change or add something in the new year that can enhance one’s personal experience.

How about resolve to enjoy Forsyth County more in 2019?

Here are 10 things to consider doing this year to make the most of living in the area.

Hike to the top of Sawnee Mountain

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A view from the top of Sawnee Mountain. - photo by Micah Green

There aren’t many places south of Dahlonega where one can explore a mountain, so take advantage of Sawnee Mountain. There are 11 miles of trails on more than 800 acres for hikers of all experience levels, but make sure to get to the Indian Seats at the top. From there one can see open views of the county and as far as the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Attend a parade

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Chloe Bennett covers her ears as the steam engines roll along Saturday morning during the Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade in Cumming. - photo by Emily Saunders

Few things can still bring together the community like a parade. So join your neighbors in the heat for the city of Cumming’s Thomas-Mashburn Memorial Steam Engine Parade around July 4, a local tradition for more than 60 years, or shiver along with them at the Cumming Christmas Parade, a new tradition the city started in 2018. 

Run a 5K

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Costumed runners dash from the starting line Saturday during the fourth annual CASA Superhero 5K and 1K fun run at Fowler Park and the Big Creek Greenway. - photo by Autumn Vetter

For six straight years, Forsyth County has been named the healthiest county in Georgia, so it should come as no surprise there are plenty of chances to run a 5K. Most of the races raise funds for a good cause and many have a theme. Some of the popular ones are the Boulder Dash — which takes runners through an active quarry — the costume-clad Superhero Run and the Jingle Jog during the holiday season.

Or if you’re a regular runner, take a visit to the Big Creek Greenway, the 9.6-mile linear park reaching from McFarland Parkway to Kelly Mill Road. The path intertwines with county parks, waterways and other natural amenities.

Volunteer for a nonprofit

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AT&T employees, Dena Sylvia and Tom Stidham, volunteer at the United Way of Forsyth County’s Day of Caring by packing hundreds of bags of food. - photo by Alexander Popp

Forsyth County is often cited as one of the most affluent counties in Georgia, but there are still those in the community in struggling circumstances.

Luckily, the county has a robust network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping those less fortunate or caught up in a traumatic life event.

Here are just a few:

Each one serves a unique need in Forsyth County, and each one needs help from the community to provide the services they do. Contact them and find out how you can help.

Support a local business

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Two of Forsyth County’s most beloved businesses underwent surprising changes in 2018, from Rucker Pet ending its popular 12-year run by selling to Memphis-based Hollywood Feed, to Parsons Gifts announcing it would close after 14 years in business in north Georgia.

Sure, the convenience of online retail is undeniable, but Forsyth County residents are out in the community trying to provide a service to their neighbors. Find an opportunity to stop in a locally-owned restaurant or retail store this year.

And support the local arts, too

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The historic Brannon-Heard House in downtown Cumming is now home to the Sawnee Association of the Arts, an organization of community artists.

Maybe one doesn’t think of “the arts” when they think of Forsyth County, but the area has a surprising amount to offer.

Catch a theater production at the Forsyth Academy of the Performing Arts, Tam’s School Street Playhouse, or at one of the county’s traditional high schools.

See a concert by the Forsyth Philharmonic or a performance by the Forsyth Singers. The city of Cumming’s summer concert series was a hit in 2018, and they have more in store this year.

Admire local art by members of the Sawnee Association of the Arts

https://sawneeart.org/

at the Brannon-Heard House in downtown Cumming.

Relax on the lake

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One of the biggest attractions in Forsyth County and the north Georgia area, Lake Lanier is a must-see.

Whether it be swimming at the beach on West Bank Park, circling the lake in a boat or enjoying a day of fishing practically anywhere, there is no end of things to do at the lake.

Find out more about where and how you can visit the lake by visiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at www.sam.usace.army.mil.

Visit a farm

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Farm owner Dennis Bottoms pulls a tree out from inside the barn at Bottoms Christmas Tree Farm. - photo by Jim Dean

Sure, farms are fewer and farther between than they used to be in Forsyth County, but several of the ones left are more family-friendly than ever.

Looking to pick fruit in the spring or a pumpkin in the fall? Go to Warbington Farms, where there’s also a corn maze, petting zoo and a family fun park.

Never cut down your own Christmas tree? Then head to Bottoms Tree Farm or Kinsey Family Farm where you can chop down the tree of your choosing, as well as go on a hayride or see a variety of farm animals.

Each offer plenty for families to do year-round.

Go to the Fair

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The Cumming Country Fair & Festival is one of the signature events of the year in Forsyth County, and it provides all the fantastic trappings one would expect: wild rides, fun games and greasy food.

Cumming’s renditions offers a little more, too.

Throughout the 10 days of the event that’s held at the Cumming Fairgrounds every October, there are free concerts and daily acts, and the Heritage Village provides an interesting time capsule of life in Forsyth County generations ago with historical exhibits.

And after 24 years, the Fair still seems to be gaining in popularity. The 2018 edition had a record 219,000 people attend.

Engage in local government

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Residents packed the Forsyth County Administrative Building on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, for a town hall to address concerns with a planned water treatment facility in north Forsyth County. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

On Dec. 12, 2018, residents packed the Forsyth County Administration Building for a town hall meeting with county commissioners to address concerns about the site of a proposed wastewater treatment plant in the north part of the county. The meeting allowed residents to voice their concerns and county officials to provide information. Eight days later, commissioners voted to change plans on where to put the plant.

It was the most dramatic example last year of how an engaged citizenry can make an impact on their community. That’s how communities tend to work the best: when its members are attentive to the decisions made by their elected officials and react when appropriate.

There are plenty of chances for residents to monitor local issues and have their voice be heard.

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners regularly meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Forsyth County Administration Building at 110 East Main Street. Go to www.forsythco.com/meetings for a full schedule.

The city of Cumming holds work sessions the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. in Gallery B of City Hall, while regular meetings are held the third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall at 100 East Main Street. Go to www.cityofcumming.net/meetings for a full schedule.

The Forsyth County Schools Board of Education meets at the Professional Development Center at 1120 Dahlonega Highway. Regular monthly meetings begin at 6 p.m. and work sessions begin at 4 p.m. Go to www.forsyth.k12.ga.us for a full schedule.