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Moonshine Festival has big impact
GEFQ 4. Dwight Bearden  Cheryl Wood  Gordon Pirkle and other moonshiners are part of Saturday s parade
Moonshine Festival

This years Dawsonville Moonshine Festival had an economic impact of $9 million over a three-county region, according to festival officials and the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.

In Dawson County, the impact was $5.69 million.

Using a calculator that measures economic impact, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes estimated visitors spent $5.6 million locally during the 2.5 day event.

We know tourism has an impact on our community, but we wanted to know exactly how much, Haynes said. The state of Georgia spent a lot of money on creating an economic-impact calculator, and we put it to good use.

Visitors spent $2.3 million on food and beverages; $2.1 million on retail purchases; $865,200 on recreation; $232,000 on transportation, and $36,000 on lodging, according to the calculator.

The spending generated $250,956 in local sales tax revenue.

I think these numbers are pretty impressive, Haynes said.

Calvin Byrd, president of KARE for Kids, which sponsors the 46-year-old festival, said profits will allow the group to buy Christmas presents and toys for approximately 755 needy children all in Dawson County.

Last year, at Christmastime, kids got three pairs of clothes, socks, shoes and a coat, Byrd said. Ninety percent of the money brought in that weekend is from out of town, but it stays in Dawson County.

The group spends approximately $170 on each child for Christmas.

Presenting the final festival numbers to the Dawsonville City Council, Byrd said KARE for Kids netted almost $227,000 from more than 80,000 visitors.

KARE for Kids costs are about $65,000 for us to put on the festival, out of pocket, he said. And the county gives us $14,500 to help put on the festival the majority is sheriffs costs.

Return on investment for the county was 1,361 percent $250,956 in revenue from local sales taxes with $14,500 in costs net profit, $226,874.

If it werent for the moonshine festival, we couldnt do this for the kids, Byrd said. We want to thank the mayor and the city council for working with KARE for Kids. Were a big believer in Dawsonville and Dawson County.

KARE for Kids plans its second day of gift-giving on Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m at the old Dawson Learning Center, 40 Hightower Parkway. Families whose applications have been pre-approved by KARE for Kids may pick up gifts.