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McAdenville: A drive through Christmas Town U.S.A.

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Photo courtesy of Steve Rankin

Do you remember the final scene in “Field of Dreams,” the aerial shot of hundreds of pairs of headlights snaking single-file through the darkness to their floodlit destination? 

That’s what I imagine McAdenville, North Carolina, looks like from above in December — but without the contrast. Instead of dark Iowa cornfields, the drive-in pilgrims are surrounded on all sides by bursts of red, white and green light. 

Inching off Interstate 85 at exit 23, they turn onto Main Street and make their way, single-file, past the old brick duplex mill houses, then turn right onto Wesleyan Drive at the only traffic light in the center of town, then ease past the lake and the fire station, down the hill to the newer, Charleston-style homes of McAdenville Village. 

This is where Christmas Town U.S.A. comes alive these days, though none of the two-story houses with sweeping verandas existed 20 years ago. Now, however, they’re a sight to behold, every house adorned every December for the pleasure of tens of thousands who make their way to and through this town of 800 for an unfiltered dose of holiday spirit. 

Lost Tracks of Georgia: Banks County Speedway

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Just because a race track is included in our Lost Tracks doesn’t mean it can’t endure.

With the right amount of dedication and community support, even a dormant track can be turned into something special. In the tiny farm town of Baldwin in Northeast Georgia, that is exactly what has happened at Banks County Speedway.

The track’s story seemed to end more than 50 years ago, but its founding family has refused to let it go and has breathed new life into this historic facility.

Join Joe VanHoose and Brandon Reed as they uncover the story of Banks County Speedway and how this lost track of Georgia was found.

Enjoy the watch? Check out other episodes of the Lost Tracks of Georgia series, including Athens Speedway, a racetrack laid dormant for over 30 years. Learn more about the Classic City’s 3/8-mile raceway on Jimmy Daniel Road. Or if the written word is more your speed, Joe gives a glimpse at the end of asphalt racing in North Georgia.

Lost-Tracks-of-Georgia-series-dirt-track-racing

About our Lost Tracks of Georgia series: Racing history fans Joe VanHoose and Brandon Reed have two things in common: their love of dirt track racing and affinity towards telling a good story. In this series, the two combine their loves and dive into the history and current state of several of the state’s famous dirt track races. With the help of cinematographer Scott Hartman, Lost Tracks looks to tell the stories that brought thousands of racing fans together in the Peach State.

Have an idea of a track to explore or a story to tell? Drop us a line and let us know which raceway we should explore in future editions of the series. We’ll also take submitted photos and videos of racetracks we’re highlighting. You never know, maybe we’ll share on social media or in one of our videos.

Food for the Soul and Spirit

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Photo of Shirley Combs courtesy of Joe VanHoose

By all accounts, Shirley’s Soul Food shouldn’t work.

No customers showed up to the grand opening. The restaurant is run by Shirley Combs, whose main career is driving a Stephens County school bus every day. It’s all she can do after her morning shift to come in and cook everything in time to open by 11:30, only to be back on the bus at 2. 

The 66-year-old Toccoa native says she hasn’t been anywhere — save for regular trips to the Chick-Fil-A down the road in Lavonia to get ice cream. 

But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and Combs’ story has reached across the country. After an opening in 2000 where her only customers were homeless, Shirley’s Soul Food has become a Northeast Georgia institution over the last two decades.

Cotten’s Bar-B-Que, Forever the King

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I realized this week that Cotten’s Bar-B-Que is my favorite restaurant. 

Not my favorite barbecue restaurant. My favorite restaurant. 

Cotten’s closes after 36 years next week, and I am not yet prepared for life without it. 

I discovered Cotten’s during the first semester of my freshman year at Jacksonville University. It sits on a particularly tired stretch of Rogero Road, one of the many tired streets of Jacksonville’s Arlington neighborhood. 

I would sit on the vinyl-covered picnic tables inside and stare across the street at the Aces & Eights tavern, discount bread store and “fish games” arcade. Inside, faded posters of motorcycle racers and Dale Earnhardt covered the beige walls. Pig figurines of all shapes, sizes and dispositions crowded the check-out counter, as well as a sign promising, “We sell no swine before its time.”

Macon ‘Movie magic’: Luther Williams Field reborn

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Photo courtesy of maconga.org

Most days of the Macon Bacon’s home games, Luther Williams Field plays host to 3,200 fans in the ballpark. On other days, 100-250 people enter the gates. 

It’s not because of weather or poor play – it’s just film crews setting up to shoot in one of the nation’s oldest ballparks.

First opened in 1929, Luther Williams Field, named for a former mayor of Macon, has been home to many minor league and amature teams and is full of history. It is also the perfect locale for filmmakers who need a period ballpark backdrop – playing a part in the large Macon film scene and growing Georgia movie market.

Running through Copenhagen: An on-the-ground perspective

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Denmark's waterside architecture on display. Photo Courtesy of Lauren Heighton

You can come to know a city through the people you meet and the streets you run. 

The statement proves true in Athens, a city with established running clubs and newly built running paths. As a freshman at UGA, I was out of my comfort zone when I moved to Athens. Exploring the city on foot was how I transitioned from feeling like a visitor to taking on the city as my own. Getting a little lost on a side street off Prince Avenue helped me to remember it better the next time.

However, running in a new city, across the world, forced me to understand it even more quickly.