THOMASVILLE, GEORGIA by Norma Poindexter

Gorgeous wildlife scene after picturesque scene scrolls almost surreptitiously in front of us like glorious paintings, as we’re transported by mule-drawn wagon, horseback and specially-outfitted Jeeps through the dramatically beautiful, longleaf pine forest and wiregrass understory. Accompanied by well-trained dogs, we’re on an adrenaline-pumping quail hunt through the most heavily concentrated quail-hunting area in the United States: South Georgia. We’re participating in the annual Quail Hunting Season starting in November, and flew in by private plane to experience this time-honored sport and to celebrate the beauty, tradition, and history of this experience at the annual world-famous, premier Wildlife Arts Festival in Thomasville, Georgia. Now in its 26 th year, the Wildlife Arts Festival, featuring over 100 world-renowned wildlife and sporting artists and countless outstanding activities, celebrates the tremendous appeal of outdoors wildlife, and raises funds for the Thomasville Center for the Arts during a wildly glorious week of parties, cocktails, children’s events and workshops from Saturday, November 13 th through Sunday, November 21 st , 2021.

Since the 1800’s, upland bird hunters from around the world eagerly visit the unspoiled landscape of South Georgia for their ideal Bobwhite quail populations and the extraordinary Southern hospitality at a prolific number of bird-hunting plantations. Northern Industrialists initiated many of these plantations after the War Between the States, seeking the comforting warmth and alluring beauty of the Southern pine forests. Among the colorful red clay hills and lofty scented pines, history abounds with previous dignitaries like President Eisenhower and his Secretary of the Treasury, George Humphrey conducting regular hunting expeditions into the wilds. Now these luscious lands are actively managed through conservation and preservation initiatives to promote good resource management, both for the land supporting quail growth and the quail coveys. Thousands now seek this unique quail-hunting sport tradition, but fortunately, strict limits cautiously protect the native quail population in South Georgia.

Ready for the fabulous celebration of stunning wildlife beauty and this rich Southern hunting tradition at the Wildlife Arts Festival? Let’s start with the Red Hills Rover Rally, an exhilarating, off-road adventure, then proceed to Whiskey in the Woods, the sensational, open-air concert supported with thirst- quenching spirits and snacks, of course. Keep the party going with Out of the Woods, an evening to meet and greet the world’s finest wildlife artists, and then eagerly scout the Fine Art Show Underwriter Preview Party celebrating all of the global wildlife artists’ and artisans’ works. Next, with a drumroll crescendo please, we present the Fine Art Show and Sale: the world’s most unique collection of wildlife artists’ artwork, woodworking, ironworks, jewelry, and knives, November 20 th -21 st , all for your acquisition pleasure. Throughout that weekend, brilliant teachable moments come rapid-fire at the Beguiled by the Wild Youth Art Workshop, the Land and Lore Lectures, the Women of Wildlife Workshop, and the Creative Covey Floral Workshop. For the dramatic finale, the Bird Dog Bash gifts you toe-tapping music, crisp bonfires, a mouth-watering, autumnal dinner, and live auctions for the Festival Artists’ newly created, “en plein air” artwork.

You’ll feel refreshed, enlightened, and amazed that this treasured heritage and these traditions, old and new, are thriving and lovingly shared with you in Thomasville, Georgia. This robust week of wildlife art and events, unparalleled in the United States, keeps its promise to encourage the distinct preservation of the sporting culture of the Red Hills and the extraordinary wildlife arts that portray the area’s extraordinary beauty. You can luckily book your local stay at the many luxurious plantations and surrounding lodges, or intown in charming, historic Thomasville.

Wildlife Arts Festival | Thomasville Center for the Arts | PO Box 2177 | Thomasville, Georgia 31799 | 229. 226-0588
Photos courtesy of Thomasville Center for the Arts

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