Union Point, Ga., Mar. 21–23 — The Moonshine Festival and BBQ Cook Off was the first event I’ve attended that brought Harley riders and trail riders together in the same location. Seems on this weekend three factors worked in harmony to make this work: Southern motorcyclists like moonshine that tastes like apple pie, fine-looking women running around in leather, and the chance for attendees to ride their bikes, either through the woods or on the open road.

Moonshine Festival and BBQ Cook Off
It wouldn’t be the Moonshine Festival without some free samples

Early Saturday morning I received a phone call from Mike McCommons requesting that I come to Durhamtown Plantation Sportsman’s Resort a few miles outside the sleepy little town of Union Point. At the time I was up in Anderson, South Carolina, trying to cover another event, but not having much success. So with my new camera in hand I took the 90-mile drive to Union Point.

Moonshine Festival and BBQ Cook Off
Moonshine Festival and BBQ Cook Off

I arrived about an hour after the Moonshine Festival started and everything was going at full speed. There was a line of food vendors along the fence, all cooking BBQ. But I wasn’t tempted since I’d eaten just before I arrived. But when I walked by the first tent, the cook inside asked if I wanted some free BBQ. Not wanting to be rude, I tried some. And then, not wanting to be rude, I proceeded to eat some more free BBQ at the next 16 vendor tents. Stumbling away after the last tent, I mentally kicked myself for going overboard—I simply cannot resist when I hear “free.” And then I found the free samples of moonshine.

The Georgia BBQ Association was in charge of regulating the Cook Off competition that started on Friday night with a BBQ wings contest—I was told they all went fast. At the end of the day McCommons and Greg Sebastian (GBQ contest representative) presented the awards to the winners. The top three winners in each of the categories took home money or prizes. Smokin’ 42 BBQ’s Grand Championship Pork Loin entry led the way in that category, with Sauced Hogs Smoke Shack taking second and the H&J Cooking Crew coming in third. Clay and Stephanie Beal of Old Henry’s BBQ got the fourth place with Bubba Grills rounding out the top five. The GBA also sanctioned a “Cooking for Fun” contest with Screaming Eagle taking top honors in the Pulled Pork Division and Southern Accent being runner up. Komado Kommandos scored a perfect 600 in the Ribs Contest with Screaming Eagle coming in second. Screaming Eagle had the highest cumulative score for the two categories to claim the Grand Championship.

Moonshine Festival and BBQ Cook Off
Jimmy Jones take his dirt dragster for a test run.

Geoff Gaskin and Steel Cutter are FMX Freestyle Motocross athletes from Canada that come south each winter to perform, returning north during the summer to finish out their tour. Geoff and Steel put on a pretty good show at 5:00 and 9:00 Saturday night. This Freestyle pair is part of the Pure Adrenaline stunt team, and they make flying through the air 40 feet off the ground look easy.

I have been hearing a lot about Moonshiners on the Discovery Channel series that tells the stories of the men and women who keep the tradition alive while making a little money on the side distilling illegal whiskey. As a young boy I used to listen to my daddy talk about when he use to make moonshine in the backwoods of Madison County, Georgia. In the early days it was not as glamorous as they make it out on television, and it certainly was not a multimillion-dollar industry. Moonshine is still based on a practice that predates the founding fathers and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Jeff Waldroup, who starred in 22 episodes as himself, was a very interesting person to meet.

Moonshine Festival and BBQ Cook Off
Members of Smokin’ 42 BBQ pose for photos after Greg Sebastian (l) presented their first-place plaque for the best pork loin.

At noon, Tim Cadiere and the Washboard Road Band from Eatonton, Georgia, played until 3:00 p.m. Tim Cadiere’s soulful original songs have new-country overtones with a dash of Cajun brought over from his native Louisiana. An hour later the band Next 2 the Tracks from El Paso performed until 7:00. Smoking Guns, a New York-based band, came onstage at 11 when it became an all-night party.

It was hard to catch up with my host, taking me more than four hours to wind up in the same place with Mike McCommons. He explained that Durhamtown Plantation Sportsman’s Resort is a place that caters to all types of motorcycle riders and four-wheel-drive vehicles. You can come test your Harley on the quarter-mile dirt drag strip or ride the trails in their 6,700 acres of woods. They even offer dirt bike rentals. You can come for the day, pull your trailer in for the weekend or rent a cabin. And they offer some great food in their restaurant. One thing about Durhamtown: If it’s bike-related, you can find it here.

(This article Hogs and Hootch was published in the May 2014 issue of Thunder Press, South Edition.)


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