Philpott Lake Ranger Talks – Moonshine

22 February 2012

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If you are going to be in SW Virginia this weekend, you should swing by the Philpott Lake Visitor Center to see a presentation on moonshine. The event is this Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26, from 2:00 to 3:00 PM.  After the event, you can drive over to the Bassett Historical Center and view a real moonshine still. And if you are up for a little bushwhacking in the woods, I can tell you where a few old stills are located near the dam. Just use the contact form on this website.

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Carolina ShineFest 2011

25 August 2011

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The third annual Carolina ShineFest was held July 30-31 in Madison, NC over the course of a very hot weekend. The event, organized by the Southern Culture Society, attracted about 30,000 people.

ShineFest featured muscle cars, bands, vendors, “moonshine” samples, and a distillery tour. There was also an appearance by moonshining legend Junior Johnson (who also apparently had something to do with NASCAR.)

NASCAR and moonshine go hand in hand. Many people don’t realize that the sport of NASCAR grew out of the moonshine industry. In the 30’s, bootleggers started modifying their cars in order to outrun the police. They developed advanced driving skills and created maneuvers to elude the authorities. One famous maneuver was the bootleggers turn, where the driver would spin his car around during a chase and drive straight at the police. When bootleggers weren’t running shine, the drivers would get together and race each other on dirt tracks, to test their driving skills. The sport of NASCAR grew out of this past time. Junior Johnson was one of these early pioneers of NASCAR – a moonshiner and a race car driver.  The first NASCAR track was built in his home town of Wilkesboro, North Carolina (which is known as the moonshine capital of the world – not to be confused with the other moonshine capital of the world, Franklin County, Virginia.)

During ShineFest, moonshine samples were handed out by Piedmont Distillers, a local distillery founded in 2005. A few years ago they partnered with Junior Johnson to create Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon, the only legal “moonshine” made in North Carolina. Midnight Moon is actually the Johnson family moonshine recipe.

The Carolina ShineFest is one of a number of festivals around the south that celebrates the history and culture of moonshine. Check out the photos from the event below. If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, you should check it out next year. It’s a pretty big deal.