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East Hall High School will operate remotely beginning Monday, Dec. 7, and continuing for at least three days. The Hall County School System made the announcement Friday afternoon following a significant amount of absences among staff and students resulting from COVID-19 positive cases.
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Moonshine music, arts festival may relocate to Braselton racing venue
Hall commissioners will consider whether to allow extra noise
The Moonshine Music and Arts Festival, an annual summer event drawing thousands of people, is making plans to relocate Lanier RacePlex in Braselton. The event is set for June 30 through July 2.

Moonshine Music and Arts Festival

When: June 30-July 2

Where: Lanier RacePlex, 5301 Winder Highway, Braselton

More info:

Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

The Moonshine Music and Arts Festival, an annual summer event drawing thousands of people, is making plans to relocate to Hall County.

Festival organizers are in the process of moving the event to the Lanier RacePlex at 5301 Winder Highway in Braselton from Ringgold in Catoosa County. They hope an Atlanta area location will attract larger crowds — the goal is between 3,000 and 5,000 people. The festival attracted 2,400 people in 2016.

Moving the 4-year-old festival to Hall would require a few changes to the RacePlex’s special events license. For now, the track’s license from Hall County government only allows gospel and country music concerts on Friday nights.

The festival runs from June 30 to July 2, a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and includes both live acts and DJs playing electronic music on one main stage and two smaller stages, according to a report from Susan Rector, director of Hall County’s business license department. It would coincide with racing events during the day and include art vendors.

Festival organizers are applying for permits to sell alcohol at the event, which is closed to children, and tickets for the whole weekend are $139, according to event promoter Brandon Couturier. He said 1,000 tickets have already been sold.

Moonshine Music and Arts Festival owner Bryan French and Couturier worked to include local artists in the lineup, and the event promoter said about five musicians from the county and a long list from North Georgia will play at the festival.

The event showcases an eclectic selection of electronic music and projector-based light shows based on themes of earth, wind, fire and water.

“Electronic music is evolving — such a broad spectrum,” Couturier said. “It’s hard because we have some live instruments involved. For us, electronic music can go from us to a very minimal piano being played on an electronic keyboard to a high-energy dance. We kind of stick to more of an underground — kind of a West Coast style of music.”

The festival will include a camping area, and the organization is working with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office to coordinate traffic control for the weekend.

Couturier was all business before the Hall County Board of Commissioners during its work session on Monday.

“We’ve done a lot of work in the infrastructure of the festival this year — safety being our biggest key,” he said. “As you can tell, I’m not some young gentleman that is going out to these festivals. This is a business for us, but a safety business for us, as well.”

Festival organizers have also requested an exemption from the county code requiring noisy activities on racetracks to stop by 7 p.m. on Sundays so that the event can run until midnight July 2.

“You’ve got houses within a reasonable proximity. How loud is it?” asked Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Higgins.

It’s pretty loud and the bass will carry, Couturier explained with Norm Morgan, one of the owners of the RacePlex, but the position of the sound systems and the hills and forest between the track and nearby homes will help mitigate the noise.

The event promoter noted the festival will distribute fliers and warn the community about the potential for evening noise that weekend.

“We’ve done it every July 4 weekend since inception and haven’t had any issues with that at all,” Couturier said.

Churches nearby can expect a visit and some cash from Couturier, who told the commission he’d be making donations to houses of worship to help mitigate any effects from the event. The event wouldn’t start until 1 p.m. on Sunday, but Commissioner Kathy Cooper warned that area churches might have a busy evening service.

The Hall commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the request to change the license conditions.

While the amendment to the RacePlex’s license is only for one year, the festival wants to sign a five-year contract with the track to make it an annual event in Hall County.

Couturier said he expects the festival to pump approximately $500,000 into the local economy — a large chunk of change for an event that started as a lark at Cherokee Farm near LaFayette.

“The owner of the festival, Bryan, it’s a good friend of his’ farm,” Couturier said. “He started with just a couple of hundred people and one DJ in the woods who just wanted to enjoy the Fourth of July weekend, and a bunch of people showed up and over time it just grew and grew and grew.

“... We’ve been able to upsize our infrastructure this year and be able to handle moving to a larger site, larger budget, larger talent, larger everything.”

The festival’s main-stage headliners include Paper Diamond on Friday, Beats Antique on Saturday and Keys ’N Krates on Sunday. Dozens of musicians are slated to perform.

Lanier RacePlex has room for more than 10,000 people, Morgan said, including seating on the grass amphitheater.

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