Fast Cars and Mason Jars

Jul 29, 2013

Fast Cars and Mason Jars

For most folks the terms “white lightening” and “moonshine” conjure up the images of shadowy figures deep in the woods frantically working around a still by the light of the moon and souped-up 1920-30’s era cars zipping down the back roads doing their best to evade and outwit officers of the law on their way to some speakeasy.  Ah, the romance of it all!   You will have a chance to learn about and relive the Appalachian traditions of moonshine and auto racing as Gatlinburg and Ole Smoky Moonshine celebrates the 1st Annual Fast Cars & Mason Jars Moonshine Festival September 27th -28th.

Fun Fact:  Moonshine got its name from England and Ireland, where, to avoid the excise tax, it was brewed by moonlight.  The making of moonshine in the Great Smoky Mountains area originated with Irish immigrants. 

And when I say relive the days and memories, I ain’t kidding!  Event organizer Johnny “Bootlegger” Baker knows of what he speaks, because almost 100 years ago his family used to engage in such practices, “on my momma’s side”, he is careful to clarify.   Bootlegger’s description of the festival is, and I quote, “You are going to come and either be impressed, or be mightily impressed.”

Fun Fact: Moonshine actually tasted horrible!  A Kentucky humorist, Irvin S Cobb, had this to say about it:  “It smells like gangrene starting in a mildewed silo, it tastes like wrath to come and when you absorb a deep swig of it, you have all the sensations of having swallowed a lighted kerosene lamp. A sudden, violent jolt of it has been known to stop the victim’s watch, snap his suspenders and crack his glass eye right across – all in the same motion.”

Friday and Saturday's daytime events will take place at Moonshine Holler (Old Smoky Moonshine’s parking lot) and will include a vast array of original “moonshine running" cars and, surprisingly enough, some original stills from Tennessee and surrounding states on display!  Who knew stills came on trailers??  The easier to move them around from the law, I was told.  In most cases, the old timer that owns the still or car will be available, and eager, to tell you their story!

Besides free music, awards for the cars, and an intense corn hole tournament, on hand to greet you Friday and Saturday will be Discovery Channel’s real-life moonshiners Mark, Jeff, Bill, and Josh from the TV show, Moonshiners.  And the festival would be meaningless if REAL Moonshine were not available for sale!   In addition, participating Gatlinburg restaurants and bars are creating their own special moonshine concoctions for you to try during the Moonshine Crawl!

Fun Fact:  The need for running moonshine in fast cars that developed during Prohibition continued on in friendly local competitions to determine who had the fastest stock car.

Night time events will take place at the old Riverside Motel lot in Gatlinburg.  Be sure to bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on.  Friday night the festival will be hosting a country music concert, and Saturday night is being billed as “An Evening with the Legends” – talks, stories, and history from actual members of families involved in moonshining!

You will not want to miss the actual “Moonshine Run” Saturday morning!  About 8:30am, the display cars, each loaded with at least one Mason jar of moonshine, will jettison their way out of Moonshine Holler, traverse a pre-determined route (including THROUGH downtown Gatlinburg!) to the Dollywood area and back.  Maps of the route will be available for pick up at Ole Smoky Moonshine prior to the Festival.

The Fast Cars & Mason Jars Moonshine Festival is free to the public!  So come on out and taste the wares made at local distilleries and watch the races for a weekend of fun, and as Ole Smoky Moonshine says, “SHINE RESPONSIBLY®”.

Category: Things to do

Doug Shanks


By Doug Shanks a Smoky Mountain blogger and writes about things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley, and Sevierville, Tennessee. Area interests include hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, shopping, and family fun.

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