CLAY COUNTY – If you’re up for some hootin’ and hollerin’ on Labor Day weekend, head to Celina Sept. 4-5 for the city’s annual Moonshine Daze Festival.
The festival is a celebration of rural roots, and all who can laugh at pop culture’s portrayal of Tennessee’s hill folk and lifestyle, organizers said.
“We want people to come and have fun with us,” Ray Norris, executive director of Clay County’s Chamber of Commerce, said. “It’s a celebration of our heritage in a light hearted and entertaining way.”
“Moonshine is part of that heritage, but we’ve planned Moonshine Daze so there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” added Kathy Merrett, a member of the festival committee.
Attendees 21 and older will have an opportunity to whet their lips with some white lighting and converse with the experts who make it. Clay County’s own legendary moonshiner Arno Hatcher will be on hand with a model still. Representatives of Short Mountain Distillery – which is located in Cannon County – will offer samples of their renowned blend, now legally available, for a $1 donation.
Moonshine Daze is about much more than mountain dew, however. Events, musical performances and exhibit booths will be clustered around Celina’s square, surrounding Clay County’s historic courthouse. Built in 1870, it’s the second oldest Tennessee courthouse still in use. Visitors can explore the period architecture and courtroom.
Food vendors and booths showcasing area artists and crafters, including “The Chainsaw Cowboy,” open Friday at 10 a.m. The festival kicks into high gear at 6 p.m. when the first of several bands, playing everything from bluegrass to classic rock, hit the stage. At 7 p.m., the “HillBilly Purdy” pageant follows, an annual favorite. Competition by age group is restricted to boys under 6 and girls though 21. Prizes will be awarded those wearing the best “hillbilly” attire, anything from Daisy Dukes to overalls.
Saturday’s full slate begins with the Moonshine Stagger Marathon, 5-K race and fun run at 8 a.m. Booths on the square open and live music performances resume at 9. Between band sets throughout the day several events are planned: a greased pole climb and greased pig chase for kids; a hollerin’ competition; and contests for best beard or mustache and best Beverly Hillbillies lookalike.
At 4 p.m., Yee Haw, a Hee Haw-themed skit and variety show, will be presented at the nearby women’s pavilion in the fairgrounds. That’s followed at 7 by another favorite, the Moonshine Daze 150 Outhouse Race, open to teams of four pushers and one sitter. Live music resumes until closing around 10.
“Dress like your favorite hillbilly character, c’mon out and join us,” Merrett said. “It’s all about having a good time.”
For more information on Moonshine Daze, the schedule or event registration, check www.moonshinedaze.org or call (931) 243-3338.
For more information about the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association, which promotes all things in the region, visit www.uppercumberland.org or call (800) 868-7237.