Thousands made their way to New Straitsville this weekend to take part in the annual Moonshine Festival, and one new aspect of the festival is gaining a lot of attention.
"It all started with the immigration movement back in the 1800s," said Brian St. Clair, a festival committee member. "People from all walks of life, from all different countries came to this town, and they worked in the mines. And when the mines were tough and shut down, they brought the old traditions with them, and they made their own liquor."
With plenty of hiding spots and residents who mastered that sought after taste, New Straitsville moonshine quickly became a hot commodity.
"New Straitsville was known back in the 40s during prohibition as the moonshine capital of Ohio," said Festival Chairman Ken Burgess. "Even Al Capone came here and got moonshine, and if you go to New York City, they’d ask you if you wanted Straitsville Special or if you wanted regular whiskey."
Since 1971, New Straitsville has been recognizing its past by celebrating with the annual moonshine festival.
"We have carnival rides and games," said Burgess. "We have arts and crafts. We have entertainment."
And now, for the first time ever at the festival, you can actually purchase your very own bottle of Straitsville Special Moonshine.
"Every year, thousands of people come expecting to be able to just taste it, smell it, sniff it, whatever," St. Clair said. "This year, that’s a reality."
That reality was made possible by a 2012 Ohio law allowing micro distilleries and two New Straitsville entrepreneurs.
"A lot of folks don’t believe that we’re open, but we really are," said Doug Nutter, co-owner of Straitsville Special Moonshine. "We’re selling real moonshine. We’re still doing the old school copper coil and old oak cooling barrel right there and old stainless steel pan."
"Everybody seems to love it, absolutely love it, and we’re thrilled because we love the look on their face when they taste it," said Amie St. Clair who owns the company along with Nutter.
Straitsville Special Moonshine opened their doors with the start of the festival on Thursday, and they have already sold over 400 bottles. The owners say they hope to have their product on grocery store shelves soon.
The Moonshine Festival runs through Monday with the featured event of the Memorial Day Parade.