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Moonshiners hall of fame inducts pioneers of trade
moonshine2014 cover
Be sure to pick up a copy of this weeks edition of the Dawson Community News for a complete guide to the 47th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival, featuring everything youll need to know about the event, including live performance schedules, autograph sessions with NASCAR legends and new festivities going on all weekend.

A tribute to history and heritage will take place during the opening ceremony of the 47th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival Oct.25 with the addition of five new inductees to the National Moonshiner's Hall of Fame.

Among the inductees are three men from Dawsonville and two men nationally recognized for their involvement in the illegal moonshine trade.

Inductees from Dawsonville are Guy Rouse, Roy "Snuffy" Jones and Ben Chastain.

Rouse "probably hauled more whiskey out of Dawson County than anybody else," said Gordon Pirkle, who helped establish the new moonshining hall of fame in 2013.

Jones, Pirkle said, was one of the biggest manufacturers of moonshine in the county, while Chastain can take credit for shipping truckloads of the illegal spirits to other southern states.

"Ben Chastain sold tractor trailer loads of moonshine to Junior Johnson," Pirkle said.

The NASCAR legend's father, Robert Johnson of North Wilkesboro, N.C., is also among this year's induction class.

"He holds the record for the largest moonshine bust ever, over 7,000 gallons," Pirkle said.

Additionally, Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, possibly the most famous moonshiner, of Maggie Valley, Tenn., is the final inductee into the 2014 hall of fame class. He wrote and self-published an autobiographical guide to moonshine production, self-produced a home video depicting his moonshining activities and he was later the subject of a documentary that won a Regional Emmy Award.

He committed suicide in 2009 rather than report to Federal prison after being convicted of offenses related to moonshine production.

A special area at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame museum is dedicated to these pioneers of the liquor trade that has developed into a booming legal business due to the passage of a law that allows spirits to be made and sampled at distilleries across the state.

"We're real excited about this. It's something we've been wanting to do for a long time and we're real happy to have the families and some of the inductees with us at the festival this year," Pirkle said.

The induction ceremony will follow the annual parade Saturday morning to kick off the festival.