Warm smiles and an invitation to come visit are the hallmarks of Southern hospitality that now make Georgia one of the fastest growing states in the nation.
Folks from all over love to visit and bask in the warmth of the people and places, and some decide this really is a great place to live.
One of my own favorite memories from decades ago after returning to Warner Robins from Miami is having met -- really experienced -- the artist, and now legendary showman, Mark Ballard.
Ballard is fully steeped in the rich culture of Macon and Middle Georgia. Many times, he and his wife, Debra, opened their home for soirees that were always fun and a feast for the eyes.
From the fully set dining table with every imaginable piece of china, silver and linen known in a civilized Southern upbringing, to the quirky bell pepper lights hanging in the powder room, their home invited laughter, story telling and good food.
Every encounter Ive had since then with Mark has been just that way.
Now you, too, can meet or enjoy again this wonderful local treasure who has become a Macon icon of how to do things right.
Mark Ballard will share his wit and wisdom on July 16 during the annual Ladies Lunch & Laughter luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wellston Center in Warner Robins.
This is the perfect event to share with your best friend, daughter, mother, sister, Red Hatter -- or just enjoy yourself with a roomful of friends with similar lifestyles and interests.
Mark will have you feeling right at home as you share a good time around a good meal and the encouragement of his wonderful sense of humor. He will share stories from over the years as an author, columnist, artist, designer, husband and father of two grown children and Georgia, a Chihuahua who thinks hes a rottweiler.
Ballard hosted the national television pilot of ModernStyle in 2004 and has also been featured on the Do-It-Yourself Network.
He has produced several holiday specials for Georgia Public Broadcasting and is currently working on a reality show -- Mark Being Mark -- to be presented to major cable networks for a national audience.
The show features the creative chaos involved from Marks many talents.
Seating for the Ladies Lunch & Laughter is limited, and reservations must be made by calling 478-293-1066 no later than July 8. The cost is $15 per person and includes lunch catered by Nothing Fancy, Just Home Cooking, and door prizes.
The luncheon is hosted by the Warner Robins Senior Activity Center and will be held at the Wellston Center, which is located at 155 Maple St. in Warner Robins.
After the luncheon, be sure to check out the gift shop across the street in the Senior Activity Center, which sells tea sets, woodworking and 3-dimensional military plaques representing all the U.S. Armed Forces.
It is not too early to be thinking about the holiday gift-giving season ahead. Now is the time to place your order for nativity scenes, music boxes, old world Santas and snowmen.
Marsha Priest Buzzell is executive director of the Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau and may be contacted at 478-922-5100 or email@example.com.