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Moonshiners stars chosen as grand marshals for festival
6 Moonshiners pic
Jeff Waldroup, left, and sidekick X Mark, who requested his last name not be used, from the hit Discovery Channel Moonshiners will serve as grand marshals for the 46th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival in October. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

The lore of Dawsonville's unique moonshining history will have the community seeing stars come October when moonshiners from Discovery Channel's hit cable series of the same name will be in town to serve as grand marshals for the 46th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival.

"We're excited to be coming to Dawsonville for the Moonshine Festival," said Jeff Waldroup, who was in town Thursday with his sidekick Mark to make the official announcement and promote the festival that will be Oct. 26-27 in the streets of downtown Dawsonville.

Like his character on this show, the ever illusive Mark, who signs his name with only "X Mark," requested that his last name not be revealed due to the nature of their illegal liquor business.

Typically, the festival brings an estimated 100,000 people to the area, but organizers are already saying that having the moonshiners around this year is going to mean much larger crowds.

"This is exciting. This is about the best thing we can have at the festival. They're going to bring people from all over that watch the show and want to meet the moonshiners," said Gordon Pirkle, a volunteer with K.A.R.E. for Kids, who organizes the festival each year.

Calvin Byrd, president of the nonprofit that uses funds from the festival for local children in need, said he sees having the television stars as grand marshals as a plus for the organization.

"It's a great opportunity for K.A.R.E. for Kids to gain some more exposure and reach out to a bigger audience," he said.

Averaging nearly 3 million viewers for each episode, ‘Moonshiners' first aired on Discovery Channel in December 2011. The show, filmed in the woods of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina, dramatizes the life of several moonshiners as they produce illegal liquor and avoid the revenuers hoping to shut down their stills.

Bud Thomas, a former moonshiner from Cumming who manufactures replica copper stills, said he was thrilled at the chance to meet the ‘Moonshiners' stars last week.

"I'm a big fan. I really like the show," he said.

As far as the truth of moonshine being portrayed on the series, Thomas said the moonshiners "know what they're doing."

"They sometimes do things that aren't exactly right, but that's just TV. They got to keep it exciting for us to keep us interested," he said.