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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Moonshine Festival — Dawsonville, GA

If it’s October on this planet, it’s time for fall festivals. My mother-in-law makes (and sells) quilts and bonnets at two of these outings a year, so I managed to drop by and get a few pictures before my camera batteries wheezed.

As always, click a picture to get more detail.

My mother-in-law at her booth. I said she usually does two of these outings a year, but this year, she had decided to do none until the Moonshiners called her and begged her to come. She was one of a tiny handful selling honest to God crafts this year, so that explains the call.

The vendor’s-eye view of the festival.

Aside to Mom: this is about where I was standing when I called you this afternoon. That blue Mustang was making all the racket.

Outside the friendly confines of a vendor’s booth, it’s wall-to-wall people.

Dawsonville claims to be “the birthplace of NASCAR,” and it’s a strong claim. NASCAR was born out of moonshine running, which required fast, nimble cars to get to the markets in the cities (and to outrun the “revenoors”). Dawsonville was well-positioned to be the “moonshine capital” — it boasted a sparse population yet is fairly close to buyers in Atlanta — and many of NASCAR’s first generation of racing champions were from Dawsonville or nearby.

The cars here are restored racers from the 1940s and early 1950s. Every hour or so, the owners fire them up, and all conversations along the street pretty much stop until they shut down.

The engine in a vintage Chrysler 300M race car (not the new one, obviously). This car is capable of 130MPH average lap speeds — that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but this car raced in 1953 (over 50 years ago)!

The moonshiners and cops were in a technological arms race of sorts: to catch a moonshiner, you had to be able to keep up. But some of those drivers, like local legend Lloyd Seay, had both horsepower and skill on their side. One story about Seay says the cops were waiting to arrest him in the winner’s circle after his last race on September 1, 1941. Instead of stopping, he just drove through a fence and roared on home, with too much of a head start for the cops to even think of catching him. The next day, he was shot dead by a cousin in one of those violent disputes that moonshiners were reputed to have often.

Lest you get the idea it’s all NASCAR and vendor booths at Moonshine... there’s song and dance as well. Daughter Dearest helped open the festivities yesterday morning with her high school chorus (the sound equipment arrived an hour late, but they simply changed their playlist to a capella numbers and the show went on). This particular group (didn’t catch the name) was playing some hard-thumpin’ variant of country. Local bands often strut their stuff here, everything from gospel to metal (and if The Boy has his way, they’ll combine the two soon).

A separate performance area hosts clogging (and other Americana-style dance) troupes. These young cloggers were just starting their performance.

At this point, my batteries gave out and I helped mother-in-law pack up for the trip home.


  1. Your mother-in-law's quilts are gorgeous! I hope she had a good day at the festival.

  2. Those quilts are absolutely beautiful! Does she sell via the internet to blogging people?

    Email me with details - pretty please!

    I see Christmas shopping in front my early morning blogging bleary eyes!

  3. NASCAR, I think it is a formerly great sport which like so many others was ruined by commercialism. Really, it was so genuine, but like everything else now, that is gone in the name of money. Now NASCAR is America's fastest growing sport, and fastest at raking up the dough. Soon, NASCAR will be ruined completely. Also, I do need to comment on your mother-in-law's quilts, impressive work, great business, great designs, I just needed to say that. She ought to open up an online business, because I feel that a real, hand-made quilt is something a lot of Americans want. It has that care and love put into it that you don't find on a shelf at K-Mart.


  4. Looks like mother-in-law should go to ebay, etc. The pictures were excellent. MommyD


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