In the heart of downtown Sugar Hill, a vibrant neighborhood full of culture — a celebration unlike any other — takes place.

Each year, the community comes alive with Eastern European culture, food and art, drawing locals to take part in an immersion into the traditions of the Eastern European country of Georgia.

This event is in its third year and is hosted by Nina Kiknadze, a native of the country of Georgia who now calls the state of Georgia home.

The cultural event, which was held April 6, is a testament to the diversity and inclusivity that define Gwinnett County

“I think that the festival provides everyone with the opportunity to plunge into the world of culture not brought from the state,” Kiknadze said.

As visitors walked through Sugar Hill, they were greeted by the aromas of traditional Eastern European foods and a vibrant array of cultural performances. From folk dances to musical performances, guests were treated to the sights and sounds of performers wearing traditional attire and showcasing centuries-old traditions that have been passed down through generations.

Art enthusiasts were also in for a treat, as local and out-of-town artists came together to showcase their work inspired by Eastern European heritage. From folk art to food to jewelry of Georgia, there was something to capture everyone’s attention.

For the residents of Sugar Hill, the event is more than just a festival — it’s a celebration of identity, a tribute to the multicultural county of Gwinnett and a testament to community.

Local resident Janelle Clodfelter, who was present at the event, said what makes this celebration truly special is the sense of community it fosters.

“As people from all walks of life come together to celebrate a shared heritage, friendships are made, and memories are captured,” she said.

As the community gathers each year to honor Eastern European culture, it does so with pride, knowing that the celebration is preserving a legacy for future generations to cherish.

“It’s a reminder that no matter where we come from, we are all connected by the universal language of culture, food and art,” Clodfelter said.

“Nina Kiknadze always does a great job organizing the Annual Cultural Festival ‘Soul of Georgia’ celebrating all of the Georgians and Eastern Europeans that have chosen to make Gwinnett County and this community their home,” Sugar Hill Mayor Brandon Hembree said.

Kiknadze said she uses her own culture as an example of a different way of living.

”I want to show my community using the example of my own people and immigrants, how different nationalities can enrich each other,” she said.

When asked what inspires her, Kiknadze said she believes a society without culture has no future.

“Our children are brought up on social attitudes, the morality of which leaves much to be desired,” she said. “Children lose identity and love for their origin story.”

The public is invited to attend next year’s celebration of the magic of Eastern European culture, food and art. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-time visitor, you’re sure to be welcomed with open arms and treated to an experience that will stay with you long after the celebration has ended.

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