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Gordon Pirkle named Grand Marshal of 54th annual Moonshine Festival
Gordon Pirkle standing in front of the Dawsonville Pool Room siren that he is nationally known for setting off after every Elliott family Cup Series victory. Photo by Paige Sweany of Sole Photography.

A familiar face will be leading the parade in the 54th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville. 

K.A.R.E. for Kids has named Dawsonville legend Gordon Pirkle Grand Marshal of the three-day festival. 

“Well it’s usually one of those big NASCAR drivers so I’m not sure why they called me,” Pirkle said. “But I will gladly do it.”

Though he has never driven in the NASCAR Cup Series, Pirkle is known in the national NASCAR community for his devotion to Dawsonville’s effect on the history of racing. Pirkle helped bring the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame to Dawsonville and sounds a siren after every Elliott family racing victory. 

Pirkle was a major part of planning the first-ever Moonshine Festival and said that he would have never imagined now being asked to lead the Friday parade to kick off the festivities, calling the recognition “a honor.” 

Rhonda Goodwin, president of K.A.R.E. for Kids was there with Pirkle at the beginning of K.A.R.E. for Kids and was the one who let Pirkle know he would be Grand Marshal at this year’s festival. 

“I think people respected him and his heart so much that they wanted to spread it out as well,” Goodwin said of Pirkle earlier this year. “He called someone and they called their friends who called their friends and it’s still going on. He still talks with at least 90 percent of the people that participate because they respect his heart so much.”

Pirkle recently received recognition at the 2021 Best of Dawson Awards Gala with the Best Volunteer award and the renaming of the Heart of Dawson Leadership Award to the Gordon Pirkle Heart of Dawson Award. 

Despite rainy weather and the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Moonshine Festival was called one of the most successful events ever by K.A.R.E. for Kids leaders. Retired NASCAR driver David Ragan was honored as Grand Marshal last year. 

Pirkle will kick off the 54th Moonshine Festival on Friday, Oct. 22. The festival runs through Sunday, Oct. 24.