Known worldwide for sweet onions, Vidalia offers layers of local flavor – and we don’t just mean on the dinner plate.
History, outdoor recreation, farm stands and more are all here for you to explore.
Make your first stop the Vidalia Convention & Visitors Bureau, located within the same building as the Vidalia Onion Museum. From Highway 280, turn onto Commerce Way, between Southeastern Technical College and the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce. We are the second building on the right.
Our friendly staff will tell you everything you want to know about accommodations, activities, attractions, dining, and shopping. Also, check our events page for a calendar of local happenings.
A Little Bit of History…
Vidalia was incorporated on January 1, 1890. It is the largest city in Toombs County, but it is not the county seat. Although some suggest Vidalia may have been named “via dalia” (“road of dahlias”), it may have been named— like Vidalia, Louisiana — in honor of Don José Vidal, a Spanish aristocrat.
Like many towns in the area, Vidalia grew up around a rail yard that served farmers in the area who grew crops like pecans and tobacco. The Vidalia Onions were not an important crop until much later.
From 1952-1956, Vidalia was home to the Vidalia Indians, a Class D minor league baseball affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Vidalia played in the Georgia State League and won the 1953 League Championship.
In the 1950s, Piggly Wiggly grocery stores opened a distribution center in Vidalia, bringing with it jobs as well as railroad business. At that time, Vidalia served as an interchange junction between the Central of Georgia and the Georgia and Florida railroad lines. For this, a large seven track yard was constructed, as well as a sizable engine servicing facility and interchange yard. The latter, smaller interchange yard is still in use to some degree by the Georgia Central railroad, while the larger yard was removed sometime in the 1970s.
Vidalia is best known for its “sweet” onions. Onions were first grown in the area during the Great Depression in the 1920’s. The first farmer in Toombs County to plant onions was Mose Coleman in 1931. Mr. Coleman did a great job of marketing his onion by showing potential customers how he could eat it like an apple. The unique sweetness enabled him to get a better price for his onions. Other farmers started growing the same crop, and in the 1940s the Vidalia onion became an item sold to tourists.
Vidalia onion growers have protected their brand, and today all onions labelled Vidalia must be grown in one of thirteen different counties in Georgia or in specific portions of seven other counties. Because of their taste and reputation, they are able to command an increased price in the marketplace.
In 1990, the Vidalia onion was named as the official vegetable of the State of Georgia.