Though some Southern families have been making their own concoctions for generations, the practice always seemed something at best that was never discussed openly, and worse, something that perpetuated hillbilly stereotypes.
Some active families have kept their process secret for generations – and the location of their still an even larger secret. If things went right, they could make great home-made liquor, and if things went south, they could end up behind bars for years.
Shows like Discovery’s “Moonshiners” show us that modern moonshining hasn’t changed much – families still can reap big profits from their illegally made, illegally sold hooch, and still face big penalties if caught.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Just look at the community of Dawnsonville, Ga., called the Moonshine Capitol of the World by none other than the State of Georgia’s Tourism and Travel site.
Nearly 50 years ago, the community of Dawsonville decided to turn its moonshining heritage into something positive. It threw the first Mountain Moonshine Festival and made it not just a gathering of mash enthusiasts and underground entrepreneurs but a celebration of life in the country.
Over the years, the Festival has grown into significant regional event that takes place toward the end of October. The 25th and 26th of 2014.
The itinerary now includes a car show, music, arts and crafts, lots of food and much fun. Even better, proceeds benefit Kare for Kids, a non-profit organization that helps area youth.
The fun begins with a parade led by moonshiner and revenue cars, a visible symbol that shows old adversaries can come together to benefit everyone.
Festival organizers intend the festival to be a free family-friendly event with more emphasis on people coming together and having fun with their neighbors and less emphasis on the purpose of ‘white lightning’ which was a cheap and relatively easy method to get yourself dangerously drunk.
It also has become a great draw for tourists from around the country who may want to know a little more about this underground hobby but don’t necessarily know where to start.
A trip to Dawsonville can be downright cultural and educational, especially if you’re not all that sure what moonshinin’ is really all about.
Some visitors like to start their journey with a stop at the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, a legitimate, legal enterprise that uses family recipes that more than 150 years old but in a modern, safe brewing process that delivers high-quality hand-crafted corn whiskey.
It’s free to visit the distillery and receive a guided tour.
Dawsonville is also home to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, where you can get info about top drivers of the past and present and learn that today’s racing scene had its roots in the pursuits between bootleggers and law enforcement.
The BusBank can help you put a memorable group trip together to learn the ins and outs of moonshining – you and your pals can legally drink your fill as well.