Monthly Archives: December 2021

Merry and Bright


A new lights attraction is coming to suburban Atlanta for the holidays.
If a holiday road trip is on your wish list, then Holiday Road will deliver.

This event – a dazzling display of lights at The Horse Mansion @ Bouckaert Farm in Fairburn, Georgia – is new to the Atlanta area this year.

Located just 20 minutes southwest of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the 8,000-acre Bouckaert Farm is a full-time equestrian event facility that features 10 miles of frontage along the Chattahoochee River.

While it typically is a popular film, music festival and wedding site, the farm will transform into a must-see destination with thousands of bright Christmas lights for the holiday season. Santa and Mrs. Claus, their trusty elves, reindeer, countless candy canes, Christmas villages and “snow”-covered trees can be spotted at The Horse Mansion as well.

Holiday Road got its start in Los Angeles last year. This season, however, Atlanta and Northern Virginia are joining Tinseltown as venues for the show.

“Atlanta is an ideal market for Holiday Road, and we are happy to be able to bring the experience to the community,” says spokeswoman Dianne Murphy. “We are looking forward to making Holiday Road an annual holiday tradition for the greater Atlanta area.”

Light Up the Night
The lights display is set up along a 1/2-mile, self-guided walking trail at the venue (yes, restrooms are available along the trail and throughout the grounds).

Generally, it takes one to one-and-a-half hours in total to complete the trail and to participate in activities in the pre-show area. However, visitors can follow the trail at their own pace.

Guests can enjoy much more than the bright and colorful bulbs that light up the night sky, however. In the pre-show area, they can join the fun with interactive experiences or enjoy the food and drink that will be available for purchase by a rotation of vendors.

Hot drinks for cold winter nights and other seasonal beverages will be on the menu. Visitors ages 21 and older can indulge in holiday cheer with adult beverages at the Holiday Bar. Think creative cocktails, wine to unwind and craft beer to get in the holiday spirit. They also can take their drinks along with them on the trail.

Of course, those who consider having an adult drink on an empty stomach might land on the naughty list, so they can make nice by sampling the fare offered at various food trucks onsite.

The souvenir shop offers keepsakes for visitors to take home lasting memories, and visitors are encouraged to take lots of photos and post them on Instagram and Facebook (@holidayroad). Be sure to tag them with @holidayroad or #holidayroad.

Timing is Everything
The new attraction will be open daily 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. November 26 – January 2. Advanced ticket purchase is required online, and trail tickets are available on the half-hour at designated time slots from 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

Visitors must be present at check-in during their arrival window, which begins 30 minutes prior to their ticket time. Anyone who is not present during the arrival time will be turned away, and no refund will be provided.

Parking also must be purchased online in advance with admission tickets, and a pass will offer access to the parking lot.

Strollers are allowed on the walking trail, but no pets are permitted on the grounds. However, service animals with proper documentation can accompany visitors.

“We’d like for the community to come out and celebrate their holiday season while creating festive memories together at Holiday Road,” Murphy says.

All tickets are non-refundable. The show will operate rain or shine.

If You Go:

What: Holiday Road USA Atlanta

When: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. November 26 – January 2

Where: The Horse Mansion @ Bouckaert Farm, 10045 Cedar Grove Road, Fairburn, Ga.

How Much: $24.99 – $29.99 per person; free for children age 2 and under; parking pass $4.99 per vehicle; online advanced ticket purchase is required

More Info:

There She Is


Photos courtesy of Karson Pennington, Marszalik Photography and Matt Boyd Photography

When the Miss America Organization marks its 100th anniversary this year, Columbia County will have cause to celebrate as well.

Talk about a crowning achievement. Representing the state as Miss Georgia, Martinez native Karson Pennington, 23, will be one of the candidates vying for the job of Miss America in Uncasville, Connecticut this month.

Karson has been involved in the Miss America Organization for more than a decade, winning multiple competitions. She followed in the footsteps of her mother, who competed in Miss Georgia in the 1980s, and her older sister, Kendyl, who has won numerous titles of her own.

In 2008 Karson won her first title, Miss Georgia Princess, at age 10. Competing as Miss University of Georgia for the statewide crown, she won the title in Columbus in June.

“I was in a complete state of shock to hear my name called as Miss Georgia 2021,” she says. “I thought of 10-year-old Karson watching Miss Georgia for the first time. I was sitting in the audience, and I wanted to be just like her and all of the other incredibly accomplished women on the stage. After 13 years, my dream had finally been realized. It was the best feeling in the world.”

She is proud to represent her home state as one of “51 incredible candidates who are talented, highly educated and give back to their communities.”


Hear Her ROAR
With her resume, she should feel perfectly at home with the other Miss America candidates. Currently, Karson is a second-year doctoral student in political science and international affairs at UGA.

The diehard Bulldog graduated magna cum laude with high honors from the university in May, earning three degrees – a Bachelor of Arts in political science, a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Master of Arts in political science and international affairs – in four years.

As a doctoral student, she teaches classes and conducts independent and departmental research focused on federal judicial politics. In the future Karson hopes to become a collegiate professor.

Her Miss Georgia duties include the promotion of education and literacy through her social impact initiative, ROAR: Reach Out and Read, which she has pursued since she was 12 years old.

Diagnosed with onset fluency disorder at age 3, Karson stuttered as a child. Her pediatrician suggested that her parents start teaching her to read so she could practice pronouncing words as she read aloud.

“I started reading then, and I haven’t put down books since,” she says.

With her mascot, Lucky Lion, she visits classrooms, donates books, and educates students and parents on the importance of literacy skills. Karson also wrote “Lucky Learns to ROAR,” which is available as an e-book on her website,

She schedules appearances and advocates with the state legislature for educational funding as well.

“Miss Georgia is an 8-to-5 full-time job. It’s not just wearing a sash and crown,” Karson says. “I love to get dressed up in an evening gown and represent Georgia, but I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk on my laptop and communicating with people.”

Getting Ready
She also carves out time to prepare for the talent, interview and evening gown portions of the upcoming Miss America competition. Karson, who was a four-year member of UGA’s Georgettes Dance Team, will tap dance in the talent segment.

Four or five days a week she goes to the dance studio to rehearse her routine for two hours at a time, and she closely follows current events to prepare for the private and onstage interviews.

In September Karson attended a 10-day Miss America orientation, when she met the other candidates for the first time.

“It’s crazy to say that I have a friend in every single state now,” she says. “It’s a sisterhood, even though we’re all competing for the same thing. We develop an incredible bond by going through this shared experience.”

Karson has won more than $23,000 in scholarships through the MAO competitions, enabling her to pursue her Ph.D. She also gains poise and confidence by appearing on stage and through MAO mentorship programs.

The final round of the five-day competition will be held Thursday, December 16, and her parents, Kathy and John Pennington, and her sister will be in the audience to support her.

Despite the similarities to other competitions, Karson expects Miss America to be different from her previous experiences.

“I think there’s a little bit more pressure, but the pressure is almost lower, too, because I’ve made it to this level,” she says. “I competed at Miss Georgia more than one time. I will get only one chance to compete at Miss America, and I’m honored to stand on that stage.”

The fact that this year’s event is the centennial anniversary is special to Karson as well.

“There will only be one 100th anniversary class, and I’m in it,” she says.

By Sarah James

Winter Wonderland

In The Home

There’s always a white Christmas – with flakes of pink and gold – at this Canterbury Farms home.

Grovetown resident Katherine Lamb has loved decorating for Christmas ever since she was a young girl, and she always has known exactly what she liked. She and her mother had definite – and decidedly different – tastes, however. While her mother loves color, Katherine goes for gold and white.

So, when she was in high school, Katherine got a Christmas tree for her bedroom, and her mother let her decorate her room the way she wanted it.

During the holidays, that same tree now occupies the living room of the Canterbury Farms home where Katherine lives with her husband, Tyler. And the tree has plenty of company all winter long.

“Every inch of our house is decorated,” Katherine says. “When we take it down, it feels so bare.”

The decorations stay up a healthy portion of the year, however. Katherine starts decorating for Christmas November 1, and she keeps the decorations up through February. It takes her about a week to decorate, and she and Tyler each have their own roles in the process.

“I do all the decorating,” she says. “Tyler brings everything out and says, ‘Go to town.’”

Glitter & Gold
Katherine gets new decorations every season to keep variety in the décor. She moves things from place to place from one year to the next, but she never strays too far from her favorite elements.

“Our theme is ‘White Christmas.’ We have a lot of trees and reindeer,” says Katherine. “I like the clean look of white and gold, with a hint of pink to add color.”

The main tree in the living room is tucked in a corner against a shiplap wall, and it stretches to the coffered ceiling. Flocked in gold and white, the tree features wide white ribbon, glittery gold balls, white balls, gold reindeer and white poinsettias.

“I don’t hang all of the ornaments on the tree because it can make it look droopy,” says Katherine. “I just sit some of the ornaments on the branches to make it look fuller and not so weighted down.”

Gold floral picks that protrude from the tree create a 3-D effect, and all shapes and sizes of white boxes trimmed in gold are piled beneath the Christmas tree.

“This is my favorite tree,” Katherine says. “We keep the gift boxes under it before we put anything in them. When we start wrapping, we take the empty boxes and fill them up. I wrap them in white and gold wrapping paper. When I wrap gifts, I do it in layers.”

The color scheme continues to the fireplace, where pink balls, white lights and gold reindeer are nestled in the flocked garland on the mantel.

“I try to make the garland look fluffy and busy,” says Katherine. “I add gold elements and reindeer.”

Cascading off each edge of the mantel, the garland and pink balls dangle down to frame three white knitted stockings. A cream-colored pillar candlestick and candle, along with a small white bare-branched tree with white balls and white lights, stand guard on each end. A cluster of cone-shaped trees occupies each side of the flat hearth.

The tree that Katherine had in her childhood bedroom sits on a table, draped with a white cloth, in another corner of the living room. “It’s our sentimental tree,” she says.

This flocked tree is decorated with meaningful ornaments such as those that commemorate their engagement and their first Christmas together. Other decorations include rolls of artificial snow and more glittery gold and white balls.

The Lambs have two gold bar carts – one with white shelves and one with glass shelves. After all, if you can’t decide which one you like better when you’re shopping, there’s only one thing to do – get them both, of course.

“All the little things that don’t really have a place go on the bar carts,” says Katherine.

Pink & Girly
In the hallway, a canvas of a shimmery, 3-D textured train engine in the snow is the perfect complement to the winter décor. “We shiplapped the wall because it was big and boring and put the canvas on it,” says Katherine.

Two bare-branched white trees (larger versions of the pre-decorated trees on the mantel) sit on the floor next to a white chest with mirrored doors. A white lamp, a pink-and-white-clad Santa and gold trees, along with two snowmen beneath a pair of bell jar domes, rest atop the chest.

Flocked garland, accented with lights and pink ribbon that Katherine added in pieces, wraps around the staircase handrails and landing railing.

A duo of pink-outfitted gnomes – aka “dog toys” for the Lambs’ two huskies, Zaya and Zeus – sits on the stairs in the hallway.

The dining room walls above the high chair rail are painted a pale shade of teal. They’re the only walls that aren’t painted white, so Katherine takes advantage of the hue with the Christmas décor. “I added a little bit more color in the dining room,” she says.

Think pink. “This room is a little bit more fun and girly,” says Katherine.

The all-white tree in the corner is decorated with pink ornaments, frosty pink poinsettias and gold picks, while boxes of pink, gold and white are stacked beneath the tree.

“We used to have the tree in our bedroom, but nobody saw it there,” Katherine says.

A bed of artificial snow cushions a lighted Parisienne village, trees, two ceramic dogs and a glittery pink Eiffel Tower on a side table.

The dining room table centerpiece is made up of white, gold and pink trees; gold pillar candles atop white candlesticks; white tapers in gold candlesticks and strands of white leaves on a white table runner.

The place settings feature white dinner plates sandwiched between frosty gold-rimmed chargers and salad plates, and white napkins wrapped with gold napkin rings rest on the plates.

Christmas lights are one of the Lambs’ favorite things about the season as well, and they like to turn on only the holiday lights in the house.

“We have so many things that are lit up,” says Katherine. “We have smart plugs in every outlet, and Alexa turns the lights on and off. That’s a Tyler thing, but it’s also safe, easier and saves on power. I’m into decorating, and he’s into technology and smart stuff.”

‘Make It My Own’
Katherine flocked the garland in the kitchen herself, lined it along the top of the cabinets and filled it in with pink and white balls.

“When I buy something, I try to make it my own,” she says. “If I can’t find something and I have a vision in my head, I just make it.”

While a pink gnome and a gold Noel sign sit on one counter, another counter holds a group of pink trees. A glittery gold wreath hangs above the microwave.

The Lambs love to invite friends to their home during the holidays, and last year Katherine had a gingerbread house-decorating party for her friends. Naturally, she trimmed her gingerbread house with pink and white icing.

Regardless of the season, Katherine keeps fresh flowers in the kitchen as well. “I always try to have a fresh floral arrangement in the house because it smells good and makes it feel lively,” she says.

The kitchen also features white quartz countertops, white appliances, white subway tile on the backsplash, white cabinetry with gold hardware and gold lantern pendant lights above the island.

“Gold has always been my favorite color, but it has to be a certain kind of gold,” says Katherine. “I love antique bronze, and I love textured gold.”

A wreath that she spray painted white hangs on the round mirror, which is surrounded by wedding pictures, in the breakfast nook.

A gold tray filled with a pink tree, gold candlesticks with pink candles, a silver tree and decorative pink presents tied with gold ribbon serve as the table centerpiece, and a white beaded chandelier hangs above the table. An ornament-free, flocked skinny tree with lights stands in the breakfast nook corner.

“We try not to make this corner super busy,” says Katherine. “We spend a lot of our time eating and working in here.”

She has skinny trees at the top of her wish list this year, and she knows just what she wants to do with them. “I want more skinny trees to put in the corners. There are so many ways you can use them. They’re so cute,” Katherine says.

Coloring Outside the Lines
She also likes to color outside the lines with her holiday décor, gravitating toward the more traditional Christmas red and green for the exterior of the home.

Although she never gets tired of Christmas, Katherine does have her limits.

“We don’t keep our outside decorations up until spring,” she says.

By Betsy Gilliland