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Things to do in Savannah

Forsyth Park: Heart of Savannah
• Evan Malcolm
A visit to the Farmers Market is a must ...

Forsyth Farmers Market

For most of my Spring Break, I enjoyed lots of rest and relaxation here in the beautiful Lowcountry. One particular highlight for me was attending the Forsyth Park Farmers Market in my hometown of Savannah, Georgia.

This was not my first time going to check out these festivities. I had been to this particular farmers market several times in the past with my family since moving to the area in 2012. Many consider Forsyth Park to be the heart of Savannah’s historic district. It is a place where  tourists and locals enjoy people-watching, majestic live-oak trees and lots of uniquely Southern characters. Savannah is known as a city built around its public squares; in my opinion Forsyth Park is the most impressive of them all.

Coming from South Carolina by car, you would cross the Savannah River via the beautiful Talmadge Bridge. Exiting onto Oglethorpe Avenue, visitors immediately enter the tree-lined historic district. From Oglethorpe, drivers take a right onto Whitaker Street which will take them directly to Forsyth Park. A visitor's first glimpse of Forsyth Park with its walking path and moss-covered live oaks can be reminiscent of the lovely Audubon Park in New Orleans.

Spanish moss wraps the trees like a gentle mist evoking history and the magic of this many faceted Southern city. Additionally, visitors coming from the Savannah airport can easily access an Uber into the heart of the city. I recently learned that one other travel option is to take the free ferry across the Savannah River from the South Carolina side  to Georgia. This is called the Savannah Belles Ferry system.

Forsyth Farmers Market 2 Every Saturday morning local farmers and other artisans gather in Forsyth Park to sell their wares. Offerings include eggs from a farm in Ridgeland, South Carolina, Lion’s Mane mushrooms from a farmer in North Georgia, locally baked breads and pastries, as well as honey, soap, coffee etc…

As you stroll past the stalls on market morning, you are treated to a diverse gathering of humanity. You can see locals shopping for their Saturday night dinner, as well as college students from the Savannah College of Art & Design. You can also see tourists picking up a pastry before posing in front of the fountain for a snapshot. After shopping, many visitors take a seat on one of the park’s many benches to enjoy some premium people-watching. On the periphery of the park during “cookie season,” we saw enterprising Girl Scouts selling their delicious treats. My family could not resist purchasing a few boxes, even though we had a half dozen already in the cupboard. The troop leader told us with a smile, “Today is the last day for cookie sales and we knew we would sell out down at Forsyth Park.”

The focal point of Forsyth Park is the fountain located in its center. This fountain is reminiscent of many classical fountains found in Europe. Because it is surrounded by greenery and benches it provides a gathering place for locals and tourists alike. It is one of the most popular snapshot opportunities in the city of Savannah.

On the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, it is traditional for locals to color the water in a ceremony referred to as “The Greening of the Fountain.” During the week preceding St. Patrick’s Day, those who go to the fountain for a snapshot are treated to the sight of brilliantly colored green water. While nationwide cities like New York and Boston are known for their vibrant St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, in the Southeast, Savannah’s parade and accompanying  festivities reign supreme. I enjoyed taking a picture with my family in front of marble statues spouting emerald-green water.

Forsyth Farmer The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah, Georgia is a civic tradition spanning over two hundred years. Savannah takes St. Patrick’s Day just as seriously as New Orleans takes Mardi Gras. For one day every March, Savannah becomes an ocean of green, complete with marching bands, floats and costumed merrymakers. For visitors attending St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, plans for travel and lodging should be made well in advance. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy the festive environment of people dressed in green head-to-toe, dancing and cheering along with other parade-goers. Families gather to enjoy the merriment, possibly catching a glimpse of the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. One Savannah local observed, “There’s a kind of magic in the air when the city comes together for St. Patrick’s Day.”

Forsyth Park is the staging ground for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. All bands, floats, and marchers congregate at Forsyth prior to starting the parade route. This is an example of the centrality of Forsyth Park to life in Savannah. The park functions as a playground and meeting place three-hundred sixty-five days a year, not just for St. Patrick’s Day. Throughout the year, tourists visiting Forsyth might encounter an open air jazz concert, a Pride festival, an ultimate frisbee tournament or an informal market for local artists and craftspeople. If you are lucky, you might get to glimpse a bride having her photos taken and sometimes even a wedding taking place next to the fountain. One visitor to the park recalled walking within feet of a bride and her father, amazed at the intersection between the public and the personal.
If you are lucky enough to visit Savannah Georgia, the place that I proudly call home, make sure to include a stop at historic Forsyth Park. As you stroll the perimeter of the park, you are treated to a vision of carefully restored Grand Victorian homes. Juxtaposed with these grand facades, you will also glimpse young art students with multicolored hair and expressive clothing. This is another part of the magic of Savannah, the coming together of the classic and the modern. While tourists will also visit the other squares, the Plant Riverside district and Bonaventure Cemetery, they often return to Forsyth as a beautiful refuge for play, relaxation and natural beauty.

Forsyth Park Farmers Market

© Evan Malcolm 3.13.24 - Evan is a student at the College of Charleston.

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