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April kicks off Moonshine Heritage Month

April kicks off Moonshine Heritage Month

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After a year of canceled events, Franklin County is moving forward with plans to celebrate the 101st anniversary of prohibition during April’s Moonshine Heritage Month.

“Franklin County is so alive during the month of April with a mental rite of passage as we transition from winter to spring,” said David Rotenizer, Franklin County’s director of tourism. “While this year we are stepping out after winter, we are also just stepping out of the darkness of the worst of the global pandemic.”

Highlighting the region’s history of moonshining is more than just a focus on alcohol, Rotenizer said. Planned activities range from art and car shows to live music and liquor tastings. “Everybody can participate in Moonshine Heritage Month,” he said.

Two exhibits are on display at the Franklin County Public Library’s main branch in Rocky Mount.

A traveling exhibit titled, “Teetotalers and Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia Distilled,” is on display in Rocky Mount branch through April 22, and from April 28 through May 13 at the Westlake branch.

Curated from the Library of Virginia, with support from Virginia ABC and Virginia Distillers Association, the exhibit features text and images from the library’s historical collection, including sheet music that mocked Prohibition, as well as records from Virginia’s Prohibition Commission. A digital kiosk features videos of still busts and audio of letters and music recorded between 1916 and 1933.

“Moonshining the Arts: Reflections on Canvas,” an exhibition of original works by the Bald Knob Artists’ group, is available for viewing at the Rocky Mount location (on the upper level) through April 30.

Artists Carol Yopp, Donna Boles, Drew DeNeal, Dana Phillips, Linda Fisher, Marlene Groth, Bob Stout and Suzanne Davis Ross each contributed to the exhibit.

“They worked from old photos and sometimes their imaginations,” Yopp said of the Bald Knob exhibition. “One can get an idea of what goes on in an artist’s mind when given the opportunity to express themselves on canvas of a 100-year-old event that changed history.”

The main library is open Tuesday and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Westlake branch, located in Westlake Towne Center at 84 Westlake Road in Hardy, is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Other planned activities throughout the month include:

A Night of Making Likker on April 16 at 6 p.m. at Early Inn at The Grove. The event features tastings at Twin Creeks and a catered meal at the Early Inn. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at tickets.earlyinn.com.

Best of the Bootleggers Antique Tractor Pull. The pull will be held at 1890 Lakewood Forest Road, Moneta on April 17. Registration starts at 9 a.m. with the pull starting at 10 a.m. Admission is free.

Franklin County Moonshine Heritage Festival at Crazy Horse Marina, 400 Crazy Horse Drive, Moneta. The event includes a meet and greet with moonshiners Henry and Kenny Law, Darrell Flack and Steve Watson, craft and food vendors and live music. Tickets are $5 each and available at the gate.

Chug for the Jug 5K in Rocky Mount. The event begins at 8 a.m. in the parking lot behind Franklin County High School (Perdue Lane entrance). Registration is $25 and proceeds will benefit the track and field teams at Franklin County High and Benjamin Franklin Middle schools. Details are at runroanoke.com. Masks and social distancing will be required before and after the race.

Sixth annual Moonshine Heritage Car Show at Blue Ridge Institute and Museum in Ferrum. The event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free and open to the public. More than 60 vehicles that were used or would have been used for hauling liquor will be on display. Food from Bowling’s will be available for purchase as well as commemorative event T-shirts. More information is available at ferrum.edu/blueridgeinstitute.

The Franklin County Amateur Radio Club will be broadcasting Whiskey 4 Moonshine (W4M) at a special event station during the car show promoting Franklin County’s moonshine heritage to other ham radio operators around the world. Special commemorative postcards have been printed as keepsakes of the event.

More information about the events that are scheduled throughout the month are available on the Franklin County Moonshine Heritage Facebook page.

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