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Dawsonvilles annual festival celebrates its high-octane heritage
Hannah Porter, crowned Miss K.A.R.E. For Kids earlier this year, rides in the parade Saturday at the Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville. The festival concludes today. - photo by Michele Hester

Mountain Moonshine Festival

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today
Where: Downtown Dawsonville
More info: 706-216-5273,,

Dawsonville’s annual Mountain Moonshine Festival could see the biggest crowds in its 45-year history.

“We’re having some beautiful weather, the crowds are great. This is going to be the best festival we’ve ever had,” said Calvin Byrd, president of K.A.R.E. for Kids, which organizes the event.

The weekend festival kicked off Friday morning with the annual “Moonshine Run” through the North Georgia mountains, and continues through today on the square in downtown Dawsonville.

With more than 500 vendors from across the Southeast, an estimated 100,000 people will hit the streets of Dawsonville this weekend as a tribute to the community’s unique moonshine heritage.

Billed as the birthplace of NASCAR, Dawsonville also salutes the area’s racing history, which got its start with moonshiners racing south on Ga. 9 to escape revenuers charged with shutting down the illegal trade.

Shane Hardin and Greg Harris, both of Dahlonega, attend the festival each year to celebrate their family’s moonshine lineage.

“Back in the day, moonshine was how they survived. It’s what they knew,” Hardin said.

Proceeds from the festival support K.A.R.E. for Kids’ efforts to provide Christmas and other necessities to Dawson County children in need.

“We want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone for supporting K.A.R.E. for Kids by attending the festival and thank all the volunteers that helped make this event possible,” Byrd said. “We could never do this without them.”

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