Lake Meriwether, in Woodbury, GA, with its camping sites, scenic views, walking trail and well-stocked fishing waters may be Meriwether County’s best-kept secret … a place of peace to regenerate the soul.
On June 9 it will be the backdrop for Meriwether’s 4th annual Peaches in the Pines arts, crafts and music festival with fun for all ages from children’s activities and youth cane-pole fishing to vendors offering one-of-a-kind goods, festival food, a lineup of area musicians and, of course, peaches and peach ice cream from nearby Fitzgerald Fruit Farms.
Want to know some history of the lake and the Meriwether area? Just ask Lake Meriwether caretaker and goodwill ambassador Robert Lovett.
On a recent day at the headquarters cabin where folks pay their camping and fishing fees Lovett shared memories from his counter filled with newspaper and magazine clippings, photos and calling cards. Scattered on the counter are images and clippings on such topics as nearby Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge in a rare snow scene, moonshine stills, and filming of movies like “Lawless” and the 1980s made-for-TV movie “Murder in Coweta County” starring Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith and recounting the 1940s trial of a wealthy Meriwether County landowner. A 1956-era image shows the famed Goat Man who was often spotted with his rig riding through rural Georgia towns.
Lovett picks up each item and shares a story or memory. At one time Woodbury was the pimento pepper capital of the world with a large processing plant – in the 1950s there were festivals, a parade and a even pimento queen. The peppers were grown all around the area and were trucked in from as far away as Tennessee, he said.
Campers come from such far-flung locations as Minnesota, Canada and European countries including Poland and Germany, but they are more likely to be visiting from neighboring counties, nearby big cities like Atlanta or Columbus, or from south Georgia or Florida. “A guy from Macon says it’s his favorite fishing place,” Lovett adds.
It is just $2 per day to fish from the Lake Meriwether banks or from boats. No night boat fishing is allowed and no swimming or gas motors since the lake is a water source for the City of Woodbury. There is no charge for fishing for youngsters under age 16.
It is $5 a day for one of about a dozen tent camping sites and $15 per day for one of the RV spots. You can rent the nearby pavilion for $35 for a gathering.
“They hear about it from our website,” Lovett said, and then call to make reservations. Lovett may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (706) 975-3110.
“One lady from Oregon was going to the four corners of the 48 states,” he said. Earlier this spring a group came up from Perry, Ga. and camped in some very un-spring-like 16-degree weather.
People stay about a week and there are a lot of repeat customers. “It is so quiet, no rigmarole, no crime,” Lovett said. The campground is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, and there is a keyed gate for campers for after-hours entry.
As Lovett shares more stories, a return camping customer from Sharpsburg in neighboring Coweta County stops by the office cabin to pay his fee. Asked what brings him back, the man replies, “Mr. Lovett.”
A Woodbury resident, Lovett is retired after 45 years in water treatment but still works part-time managing Lake Meriwether. For many years John Heard was caretaker at the lake, but he passed away in 2015. His family and friends built the small lake business office – called Dad’s Cabin – in his honor.
Lovett pulls out a map showing the Lake Meriwether’s boundaries. It was one of three lakes built in the late 1960s for flood control, completed in 1967. The 144-acre, mostly spring-fed lake has a drainage area of 3,889 acres and sits about 770 feet above sea level. The dam is 37 feet high, but the deepest water in the lake is 22 feet. The main creek that feeds the lake is Cane Creek.
Sitting on the porch of Dad’s Cabin at Lake Meriwether is caretaker and the lake’s chief goodwill ambassador Robert Lovett. Stop by the office cabin and chat with Lovett who will share some history of the lake and the surrounding area.
Photos courtesy Meriwether Chamber of Commerce
During the 4th annual Peaches in the Pines festival June 9, take time to stroll the shores of picturesque Lake Meriwether, 728 Lake Meriwether Road, Woodbury, GA 30293..
May 8, 2018
Peaches in the Pines Festival Director Rhonda Fuller, left, and Meriwether County Chamber of Commerce President Carolyn McKinley view a map of Lake Meriwether with caretaker Robert Lovett.
4th annual Peaches in the Pines arts, crafts,
music fest at Lake Meriwether June 9
Recreation/ camping area may be county’s best-kept secret
Lovett shares a program from the April 24, 1973 dedication for the Cane Creek Watershed project.
Since Woodbury was short of water, a fourth dam was made larger than it would have been for flood control alone. Woodbury paid this extra cost and gained a supply of badly needed municipal water. The project sponsors decided to develop a recreation area around the watershed lake, and Meriwether County paid half the cost.
“Bion Williams of Woodbury went to Washington and got the dam raised for water,” Lovett explains. Lovett came to work at the water plant in 1975.
Among items displayed on the office counter are two 2016 articles by John Trussell from Georgia Outdoor News magazine, featuring none other than Robert Lovett and sharing about some good fishing on Lake Meriwether and the nearby Flint River. Fishing on the Flint is described as being much like north Georgia trout fishing but rather for the shoal bass found in the warmer waters here.
Visitors fishing at Lake Meriwether bring in a lot of crappie at 3 pounds. Big trophy bass are numerous in the lake, according to Lovett. Anglers have caught them at 7 pounds, 10 pounds, 12 pounds.
In addition to crappie and bass, the lake has a good population of bream and catfish. The Georgia DNR regularly stocks catfish in the lake and in recent months put in 2,000 channel cat. Lovett says catfish up to 40 pounds have been caught, but the average-sized catfish comes in at 1 to 2 pounds.
A new walking trail around the lake is about half-way completed, and about a mile of it will be handicapped-accessible thanks to the ADA portion of a recent Department of Natural Resources grant. Work is expected to be completed on the project by December 2018.
The 4th annual Peaches in the Pines arts, crafts and music festival will run 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 9 with food, fun and day-long entertainment. Enjoy live music with several groups including The Breakdowns, a Tom Petty tribute band. Visitors will be able to shop for a variety of one-of-a-kind arts and crafts from vendors. There will be children’s activities including cane-pole fishing. Enjoy sight-seeing helicopter rides (with an additional fee), delicious festival food and Georgia grown produce – Fitzgerald Fruit Farms will be back with fresh Georgia Peaches and peach ice cream. And be sure to take time to stroll along the shores of picturesque Lake Meriwether.
Festival admission is $3 per person; youngsters under 10 get in free.
The 2nd annual Meriwether Miles bicycle ride kicks off the fun with a mass start at 9 a.m. – day-of registration opens 7 a.m. adjacent to the lake, 728 Lake Meriwether Road, Woodbury, GA 30293. Get your Meriwether Miles ride registration in by May 19 to receive a 2018 commemorative T-shirt. Riders will roll through the rural countryside of southern Meriwether County and back to the area of the Peaches in the Pines festival at Lake Meriwether in Woodbury. The bike ride offers three courses with a variety of terrain in 10-mile, 44-mile and 64-mile options. The Century route includes an almost-12-mile coast back toward Warm Springs and on into the Lake Meriwether area. Organization “Honoring Our Veterans” will receive a portion of the Meriwether Miles event proceeds.
Online registration and payment for the Meriwether Miles bicycle ride is available at the Meriwether County Chamber of Commerce website – the direct link is http://meriwethercountychamber.org/meriwether-miles-bicycl…/
The cost on event day is $25, but no shirt is provided. Make checks payable to MC Tourism and mail to: Meriwether Miles Bike Ride c/o Meriwether County Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 9, Warm Springs, GA 31830. For more information contact ride coordinator Gail Coffee at 770-927-2847 or email email@example.com .
For more information about the Peaches in the Pines festival contact Carolyn McKinley, President, Meriwether County Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 9, Warm Springs, GA 31830; send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; visit http://www.meriwethercountychamberofcommerce.com
; or call 706-655-2558 or 706-975-0622.