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51st annual Mountain Moonshine Festival this weekend
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Spectators at the 49th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival watched as the motorcar parade made its way through downtown and around the historic Dawsonville courthouse early Saturday. - photo by Allie Dean Dawson County News

The 51st annual Mountain Moonshine Festival is hitting downtown Dawsonville this weekend. Rain or shine, organizers have planned for an amazing festival full of local flavor, from car shows to handmade crafts to family friendly games.

This year’s festival comes with some changes that K.A.R.E. for Kids Interim President Rhonda Goodwin says will hopefully make the festival-going experience much more enjoyable for all.

Ensuring traffic flows smoothly has been the main goal for Goodwin for this year’s festival.

“As a whole it’s very, very pleasant. What makes it unpleasant sometimes is the difficulty getting in and getting out,” Goodwin said. “My goal this year was to make it easy to get in because once you’re in everyone’s going to enjoy it.”

By streamlining the entries for the show cars, moonshine cars and parade cars to their own entrances, organizers hope to make the process less frustrating and more efficient.

There will be several road closures this weekend due to festival activities.

On Friday morning, Allen Street will be closed for the car show. On Friday afternoon Hwy. 53 near Jack Heard Road will be closed to keep traffic from entering the vendor areas.

Public parking is $10 with several lots located around the historic downtown.

“Even if you find out that you’re parking seemingly far away, the shuttle bus is there,” Goodwin said.

A free shuttle service provided by K.A.R.E. for Kids will take festival-goers to and from the parking lots to the festivities.

Another big change for the 51st annual festival is the noticeable lack of the swap meet.

Due to the ongoing construction of Main Street Park behind Food Lion and being unable to find a suitable replacement area, there will not be a swap meet.

“Every year we kind of have to reinvent the wheel in some aspect but with that construction that’s the biggest wheel we’re reinventing this year,” Goodwin said.

It has been an adjustment for the car enthusiasts who were hoping to score hard to find antique car parts at the three-day car show, but ultimately they understand why it’s not feasible this year.

“It’s growing pains,” Goodwin said. “It just means we’re going to have a nicer facility next year. We try to stay positive.”

Despite these changes, the festival still promises the same family-friendly fun with over 250 vendors signed up to line the streets of downtown with their wares, and a full calendar of entertainment is planned at three different stages around the festival.  

The annual parade, headed by Grand Marshal Jimmy Spencer, will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with opening ceremonies immediately following.

At the opening ceremonies, the National Moonshiners Hall of Fame inductees will be recognized. This year’s inductees are Benny Bearden of Cumming, John Pinnion of Dawsonville, Wayne Stone of Blue Ridge, Kenneth Nichols of North Wilkesboro, N.C. and Ray Hudson of Boonville, N.C.

Spencer will also be available to sign autographs at the GRHOF after the parade.

“We’re very grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding and cooperation that we feel like working together we can accomplish better things for our community,” Goodwin said. “It’s a team effort. Although we work hard year round, we understand that every individual and each business takes a part in it in some way.”

K.A.R.E. for Kids now hosts the festival each year as a fundraiser to help the 501(c)3 give local children Christmas presents and other assistance throughout the year.

The festival will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 27 and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 28.

See the festival guide inside this week’s paper for more information on the festival, including the entertainment and events schedules and a parking map.

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