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Festival founder dies
Goswick hailed as a visionary
5 Goswick pic
Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, left, shakes hands with local historian Fred Goswick in front of the Dawsonville moonshine museum in the 1960s. - photo by Photo courtesy of Gordon Pirkle

The man credited with founding what has become Dawsonville's Mountain Moonshine Festival died Sunday at age 75.

Born in Dawson County in 1936, friends called Fred Goswick a man of vision who recognized that tales of Dawsonville's pioneer heritage and sordid moonshine history had the potential to be something big.

"It was about 43 years ago when he set up three tables out in front of the courthouse to sell souvenirs to the leaf-lookers as they drove through Dawsonville to the mountains," said longtime friend Gordon Pirkle. "It shot up within 35 years to be as big as it is now."

Organized today by KARE for Kids, the festival has grown into one of the best attended and possibly most unique in north Georgia.

President Calvin Byrd said calling Goswick the festival's founder is a fitting tribute.

"For him to start this with just three tables and for what it is today, it's a great way to advertise our community and a great way for us to give to the underprivileged children in Dawson County," he said.

Proceeds from the 2011 festival helped KARE for Kids provide Christmas presents to more than 750 local children.

Goswick's knowledge of the local moonshine trade developed early in life, as he hauled the illegal liquor from Dawson County to Atlanta.

"I'd bet you he knew more about the moonshine trade in Dawsonville than anybody else," Pirkle said. "I always say he was about 30 years too early when he opened his moonshine museum back behind Billy's restaurant.

"A lot of people resented him for that, I think, because moonshine was still big in Dawsonville at that time."

Goswick also was heavily involved in Thunder Road and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, where he served on the board of directors.

"He had been sick for about the last three years, but he served on our racing commission board up until about two years ago," Pirkle said.

Goswick could often be found at the museum, telling stories of Dawsonville's past.

"He was always a big supporter and was responsible for a lot of the history we have at the museum," Pirkle said.

Survivors include his three sons, Tim Goswick of Dawsonville and Steve Goswick and Scott Goswick, both of Gainesville.

The family will receive friends from noon to 9 p.m. today at Bearden Funeral Home. Funeral services will be private.

Flowers will be accepted or donations may be made to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, P. O. Box 1561, Dawsonville, GA 30534.