Why is Georgia Known for Moonshine?

The Early Days of Moonshine in Georgia

Scotch-Irish immigrants began to settle in Georgia in the 1780s, bringing with them the knowledge of how to distill fruits into alcoholic beverages. With that settlement, moonshine production began. Whether it was apples, corn or peaches, Georgians made the most of their crops, including the production of whiskey or brandy.

Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery

Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery

During the Civil War, the United States government formed the Internal Revenue Service to collect taxes on “luxuries,” including alcohol and tobacco. Many moonshiners refused to pay the tax and continued operating their stills. In the 1870s, federal agencies started going after the moonshiners in North Georgia, and in 1920 Prohibition was enacted, which meant consuming alcohol was illegal.

The infamous cat-and-mouse moonshiner versus revenuer car chases through the North Georgia mountains reached is peak in the 1930s and ’40s, giving birth to a new type of industry, stock car racing, which would lead to the formation of NASCAR.

Modern ‘Shine in Georgia

Illicit still production of moonshine has died off in the last half-century, and in the last decade, liquor companies have been producing the spirit legally throughout Georgia, with the beverage enjoying a renewed popularity.

Grandaddy Mimm's in Blairsville. Photo from Facebook.

Grandaddy Mimm’s in Blairsville. Photo from Facebook.

Georgia is now home to 16 distilleries, including:

Moonshine Festivals in Georgia

Remaining popular are festivals that celebrate the moonshine heritage of Georgia. Check out these upcoming events in the Northeast Georgia mountains to learn more about the spirit and Appalachian culture:

Georgia Mountain Moonshine Cruiz-In, Hiawassee (July 29-30, 2016) – This event includes the usual festival-type fun plus live mountain music, parade, classic cars, a pioneer village, and crafts representing the region’s heritage.

49th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival, Dawsonville (October 21 – 23, 2016) – Festivities kick off on Saturday morning with a parade of cars. There will be live entertainment, numerous vendors and festival fare. Also, festival-goers can enjoy a car show, cruise-in, and swap meet at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Worth Bragging About: 80 Bands, 20 Stages in Macon

Macon has been on a recent roll, musically speaking. Its legendary Capricorn Music studios are the centerpiece of a downtown redevelopment effort, the Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House remains a major draw, and a weekend celebration of what would have been Otis Redding’s 75th birthday is just around the corner in September.

Saturday, July 30 brings one of the city’s flagship musical events, when Bragg Jam will take over the town with a 12-hour “concert crawl” featuring wall-to-wall bands playing numerous venues — most within a two-block radius.

Floco Torres Big Band. Photo credit Love Dot Photography.

Floco Torres Big Band. Photo credit Love Dot Photography.

Roughly 50 of the more than 80 bands on this year’s bill hail from Georgia and run the stylistic gamut, including local sensation the Floco Torres Big Band and wildly eclectic Atlanta sisters Larkin Poe. Headliners Shakey Graves hail from Austin, Texas, and the lineup also has a distinctly Nashville vein running through it, but my personal pick is NYC indie popster Frankie Cosmos, who happens to be the daughter of ’80s heartthrobs Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates.

2016 marks the 14th edition of Bragg Jam, which began as a low-key memorial following the death of beloved local musician brothers on a 1999 road trip. Building a lasting legacy from that tragic situation, the event remains all-volunteer and channels its surplus to area causes dear to the Bragg brothers, such as the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and Amerson River Park.

The Crazy Bull in Macon. Photo credit: Page Walker, Network Frequency.

The Crazy Bull in Macon. Photo credit: Page Walker, Network Frequency.

An all-access ticket includes shuttle bus service between the many venues, spanning the Cox Capitol Theater, which made our recent list of iconic Georgia music venues, and the Hummingbird Stage & Taproom, which narrowly missed our list of Georgia music venues worth the drive. Most sites are all-ages, though some of the clubs are 18-and-over.

Bragg Jam’s free Arts & Kids festival will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, leading into the concert crawl’s 2 p.m. start. Food trucks will be parked near the Cherry Street Plaza site, but for those interested in sitting down for a meal, organizers also suggest the Taste and See Coffee Shop, the Bearfoot Tavern and Just Tap’d, all of which double as music stages for the day.

glen-headshotGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org.

A Weekend Guide to Perspectives, Georgia’s Premier Pottery Event

Georgia’s largest pottery showcase and sale is on the horizon! PERSPECTIVES: Georgia Pottery Invitational is a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF). The 20-day event in Watkinsville features pottery exhibits, demonstrations and studio tours. From Aug. 26 to Sept. 14, 2016, artists and art lovers will experience a showcase of 6,000 handmade, functional pieces by 50 Georgia potters. Here’s a weekend guide to Georgia’s premier pottery event of the year.

Where to Stay

Ashford Manor in Watkinsville. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Tourism Department.

Ashford Manor in Watkinsville. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Tourism Department.

Just a short walk from OCAF is the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast. Listed as one of the top inns to stay in Georgia, the bed and breakfast provides an inviting and relaxing environment with a pool and beautiful garden. The Victorian-style manor also features themed rooms raved about by national and international guests.

For a traditional lodging experience, the award-winning Springhill Suites by Marriott Athens is located just a few short miles from OCAF with on-site and off-site gym and pool access. Book your room soon; the popular hotel fills fast!

What to Do

Friday

Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational. Photo courtesy of Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation

Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational. Photo courtesy of Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation

On Friday, arrive at your hotel to view the three-part pottery exhibit and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. Items will include mugs, cooking dishes, tea pots, large pots and much more. The Opening Gala will take place on Aug. 26 at Rocket Hall. Enjoy refreshments and live jazz music performed by local band Period Six. The opening reception is an exclusive opportunity to view and purchase pottery before the exhibits are open to the public.

Saturday

Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational. Photo courtesy of Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation

Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational. Photo courtesy of Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation

After a full breakfast complimentary of your stay, head over to the Rocket Hall Courtyard, where potters will perform pottery demonstrations focused on wheel throwing and hand building techniques. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 27-28, renowned artist Kevin Snipes will lead a hands-on pottery workshop on pottery form and surface.

Chops & Hops in Watkinsville. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Tourism Department

Chops & Hops in Watkinsville. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Tourism Department

In your free time, enjoy shopping in Historic Downtown Watkinsville with unique shops that feature art galleries, clothes and accessories, home and garden décor, antiques and more. You can also explore popular lunch options in the area like unique burgers at The Traveling Hobo Café, ribs at JB’s Smokin’ Barbeque and a classic BBQ sandwich at Hot Thomas BBQ. End the night with dinner at Chops & Hops, an unforgettable fine dining experience. For more dining options, visit visitoconee.com/dining.

Sunday

Wake up to Sunday brunch at Girasoles with Mexican-Mediterranean fused dishes crafted by Chef Zambrano. On Sept. 3 and Sept. 10, well-known Georgia potter Michael Pitts will host Gallery Talks with discussions on pottery styles, clays, glazes, and firing techniques.

Built in 1897, Elder Mill Covered Bridge in Watkinsville is one of only 13 functional covered bridges left in Georgia.

Built in 1897, Elder Mill Covered Bridge in Watkinsville is one of only 13 functional covered bridges left in Georgia.

Finally, a serene view and a classic photo at the Elder Mill Covered Bridge is the perfect way to end your trip before traveling home.

For more information on PERSPECTIVES, visit visitoconee.com/perspectives.

raquel-cobb-crop2Raquel Cobb is the marketing coordinator for the Oconee County Welcome Center. Graduating from Clemson University in 2015 with a degree in communication studies, Raquel is the voice behind Oconee’s social media channels and travel blog. Growing up a few miles outside of Oconee County, Raquel enjoys the small town charm Watkinsville and her hometown offers.

10 Georgia Festivals You’ll Want To Go To This August

When you’re making your plans for August, be sure to add these Georgia festivals and parades to your itinerary.

Dillard Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival

Dillard Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival

Dillard Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival, Dillard (August 5-6, 2016) – Each year, the town of Dillard serves up two full days of fun that’s finger lickin’ good. Over 50 different teams will compete in the Georgia State Championship Cook-off, which is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. There will also be a number of bluegrass music performers. Ticket required for entry.

Old Soldiers Day Parade, Alpharetta (August 8, 2016) – It may not be a full blown festival, but the annual Old Soldiers Day parade is a lot of fun for children and adults of all ages. Plus, it’s a great excuse to explore the fresh face of downtown Alpharetta. Free to attend.

Old Soldiers Day Parade in Alpharetta

Old Soldiers Day Parade in Alpharetta

Butterfly Festival, Dunwoody (August 20, 2016)Dunwoody Nature Center hosts this annual festival, which is a family-friendly favorite among DeKalb County residents and visitors. In addition to two large butterfly tents filled with hundreds of live butterflies, attendees can enjoy a Birds of Prey show, live animal encounters, games, educational booths, crafts, music, food and drinks. Ticket required for entry.

Dunwoody Nature Center's Butterfly Festival

Dunwoody Nature Center’s Butterfly Festival

Brooklet Peanut Festival, Brooklet (August 20, 2016) – This annual festival features arts and crafts, food, live entertainment, a Peanut Run, parade, and street dance. Free to attend.

German Bierfest, Atlanta (August 20, 2016) – From 2-7 p.m. adults are invited to partake in samples of over 35 authentic German beers in a prelude to Oktoberfest. Atlanta area German restaurants will be serving authentic German food including bratwurst, käsepätzle, pretzels, sauerkraut, and schnitzel. There will also be live music and a number of outdoor activities. Ticket required for entry.

Do the chicken dance at German Bierfest Atlanta. Photo from Facebook

Do the chicken dance at German Bierfest Atlanta. Photo from Facebook

Tomato Festival, Young Harris (August 20, 2016) – Enjoy a day filled with day of wine, food, and live music suitable for the entire family. Add to your fun by enjoying a hay ride, a fishing derby especially for kids, and wine tasting especially for adults. Ticket required for entry.

Imagine Music Festival, Hampton (August 26-28, 2016) – Voted a Top 300 festival in the world by Fest300, and Top Ten Emerging Music Festivals by USA Today, Imagine Music Festival sets up at Atlanta Motor Speedway for three days of EDM performances alongside cirque style acts. Camping is welcome. Ticket required for entry.

Imagine Music Festival. Photo Credit DV Photography

Imagine Music Festival. Photo Credit DV Photography

Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival, Kennesaw (August 26-27, 2016) – Competition is the name of the game at this festival, which features a Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned competition, Anything Butt and Peach Dessert Contests, and a a Kids’ Que cook-off. There will also be over 200 vendors in addition to kid-friendly fun. Free to attend.

Fort Frederica National Monument NPS Centennial Living History Festival, St. Simons Island (August 27, 2016) – Fort Frederica not only served a critical role in making the United States the shape it is today, it’s also the site of a fun family-friendly festival that will explore its role in that history. Free to attend.

Meet historical characters at Fort Frederica on St. Simons during the Living History Festival Aug. 27, 2016.

Meet historical characters at Fort Frederica on St. Simons during the Living History Festival Aug. 27, 2016.

Festival Peachtree Latino, Atlanta (August 28, 2016) – Georgia’s Latino community is invited to spend a day at Piedmont Park enjoying the largest family and multicultural event in the Southeastern United States. Free to attend.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Come for UGA Football, Stay for an Athens Weekend

Sanford Stadium in Athens. Photo by Broad Collective

Sanford Stadium in Athens. Photo by Broad Collective

Recently named the “Best Town in College Football” by Athlon Sports, it’s no surprise that visitors can expect much more from Athens than just a Saturday football game. With award-winning food, some of the most sought-after craft beer in the country, a world-renowned music hub, and an eclectic downtown scene, Athens is a city that will require an extended stay. So, come for the UGA football game on Saturday, but arrive early on Friday and stay until Sunday afternoon to experience all Athens has to offer during an ideal fall football weekend.

Friday

UGA's mascot Hairy Dawg. Photo by Mark Smith, visitathensga.com

UGA’s mascot Hairy Dawg. Photo by Mark Smith, visitathensga.com

The game day energy circulating through fans crowded into Sanford Stadium starts long before the first whistle is blown. Start your Friday in Athens by touring the Special Collections Libraries annual exhibit from the UGA Athletic Association archives, this year focusing on the Redcoat Band. This tour is offered on Friday afternoon before each home football game.

The UGA Redcoat Band performs at halftime.

The UGA Redcoat Band performs at halftime.

Move onto downtown Athens that is bursting at its seams with stylish and quirky shops, a variety of bars and music venues, unbeatable dining, and more. The Victorian-era architecture creates an inviting atmosphere for visitors and locals to take a leisurely stroll and explore the local shops.

Grab a bite to eat in downtown Athens.

Grab a bite to eat in downtown Athens.

Grab a bite to eat downtown, as there is no shortage of the traditional “tailgating” delicacies in the area. Visit Amici for wings, Clocked for a great burger or Ted’s Most Best for a yummy slice of artisan pizza. Head up to the rooftop of the Georgia Theatre for unbeatable views, elevated pub fare and a full bar. Venture outside of downtown to Butt Hutt for delicious BBQ, Cali N’ Titos for a Cuban sandwich that will change your life or George’s Lowcountry Table for New Orleans-style dishes. Take a trip to Athens’ award-winning breweries, Terrapin, Creature Comforts, and Southern Brewing, for tours, complete with tastings of their house-crafted brews.

gatheatre

Georgia Theatre

More than two decades since Athens burst on the music scene as the home of the legendary B-52’s, R.E.M. and Widespread Panic, the vibe is as energetic as ever. Downtown’s world-famous musical venues, the heart of this historic college town’s live music scene, will guarantee a one-of-a-kind night out with friends. Weekend evenings are particularly exciting, as clubs like The 40 Watt, The Foundry at Graduate Athens and the Georgia Theatre play host to various musical performances.

Saturday

The University of Georgia campus teems with football fans on game days.

The University of Georgia campus teems with football fans on game days.

The city starts tailgating at the crack of dawn, regardless of kickoff time. Athens will teem with red and black as fans rush to the downtown streets and favorite tailgate spots to get pumped for the game. Just a short walk from downtown, watch thousands of people line the main entrance to Sanford Stadium for the Dawg Walk, right outside of the Tate Plaza, to welcome the players and coaches before warm ups accompanied by the tunes of the Georgia Redcoat Band. While you’re in Tate Plaza, stop by the UGA Bookstore that has everything a Dawg fan could dream of. Then follow as everyone heads to cheer on the boys of fall between the hedges.

Dining options abound in Athens.

Dining options abound in Athens.

Win or lose, everyone needs to eat after the game. Relax in ambient settings from sidewalk and courtyard cafés to dining rooms overlooking the University of Georgia’s historic North Campus, with menus that feature exceptional wines and Italian, sushi, steak, Cajun, and farm-fresh offerings from local Athens growers. For a full list of Athens restaurants, visit http://www.visitathensga.com/restaurants/.

Sunday

Fuel up for the trip home at Mama's Boy in Athens. Photo courtesy Mama's Boy, Facebook.

Fuel up for the trip home at Mama’s Boy in Athens. Photo courtesy Mama’s Boy, Facebook.

Wake up, go out and you’ll realize that Athenians take Sunday brunch seriously. Mama’s Boy is the epitome of “Southern Fun Dining,” complete with Southern breakfast and lunch staples and relaxing digs. Mama’s Boy has been voted Athens’ Favorite Brunch by Flagpole Magazine for the past four years and named one of “The South’s Best Biscuit Joints” by Southern Living magazine, so you can imagine how popular it is — arrive early. Last Resort Grill’s brunch is also a favorite among visitors and normally has a line out the door for their stuffed French toast, shrimp & grits, crab benedict and breakfast enchiladas. Other popular breakfast and brunch options include Donderos’ Kitchen, Preserve, and Heirloom Café.

Extend your visit after brunch and peruse two official state attractions, as Athens is home to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Georgia Museum of Art. The Georgia Museum of Art, located on UGA’s East Campus, has a permanent collection of more than 9,000 works of art as well as a variety of traveling exhibitions. The 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia is the perfect place to have a picnic and take a walk on miles of nature trails in cool fall air.

Stroll through the State Botanical Garden for beautiful fall scenery. Photo credit: visitathens.com.

Stroll through the State Botanical Garden for beautiful fall scenery. Photo credit: visitathens.com.

As you can see, your fall football weekend will be packed in Athens. So, it’s only right to spend a little more time in Athens by venturing from your tailgate sport. For information on last-minute hotel availability, parking, tailgating, weekend events and special deals, go to VisitAthensGA.com/football or call the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau at (706) 357-4430. To stay up to date on travel, visitor and event information, follow VisitAthensGA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

khyra-walker-webA devoted Georgia Southern Eagle in Dawg Nation, Khyra Walker took a job as the public relations coordinator for the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau and has fallen in love. The craft beer scene, variety of food options and creative energy are among her favorite things that Athens has to offer.