The Coondog Cemetery celebrated its 75th anniversary on Labor Day September 3, 2012 with a rip-roaring celebration. What better way to have a mountain celebration with over 2500 guests than to have some shine to go along with L. O. Bishop BBQ? Moonshine, mountain dew, white lightning, red-eye, rotgut, alcohol, ardent spirits, booze, drink, firewater, grog, hooch, John Barleycorn, that is. In order to have some fresh shine and educate the next generation on the lost art of making moonshine, you have to have a still.
The still was set up and running next to the remains of a previous raid as guests were settling down in their lawn chairs waiting for the first group to perform when the law showed up and spied the still stuck off to the side of the cemetery. Deputy Darren Green wasted no time in arresting Sam Bates, the ring leader of the moonshine operation and hauled him off in hand cuffs. Most guests had no idea what was happening until the deputy Green led Sam through the crowd. The disappointed crowd milled around the remains of the still operation comparing the ax marks in the old copper tank to an old Andy Griffith show; the one where the sisters had a special flower making machine in their greenhouse. They only sold the elixir for special occasions. Barney kept saying that he was going to take a great big axe and go pow, pow, pow.
Next year the Coondog Cemetery plans to hide the still a little further back in the woods on the other side of the outhouses. These modern day folks have got to have one of these portal John things, so they won’t be going near the aroma of the outhouses. So ya’ll be sure to come back now next year.
Various vendors where present along with entertainment by the Southern Strangers, Karren Pell & Friends, Travis Wammack (Scratchy, Easy Evil, Love Being Your Fool) with his Snakeman Band, Jake Landers, Karren Pell & Friends, buck dancing and a liar’s contest. Travis Wammack introduced his new song Coondog Cemetery and a special limited edition Coondog 75thanniversary Case knife and a Coondog Cemetery limited print by Martha Carpenter were sold. All the coondog graves were decorated with USA flags and fresh silk flowers, which even fooled a butterfly, which fluttered from grave to grave trying to get nectar from each flower. Soon the disappointed sulfur disappeared toward the aroma of sour mash to seek a real flower.
The Coondog Cemetery was actually started on September 4, seventy five years ago when Troop beloved coonhound of Key Underwood died. Underwood buried him at the crest of a hill. He chiseled his name, date of birth and date of death on an old chimney stone and set it on his grave. Soon other coondog owners started burying their coonhounds around old Troop and the cemetery was born. Today more than 185 coonhounds are buried at the cemetery, and you have to be a coondog in order to be buried at the cemetery. No other breed of dog is allowed to be buried here. It is located a fer piece west of Tuscumbia off of highway 247 down a winding quiet road along the hills and hollers.
Back to the moonshine still raid……in order to protect the innocent as well as the guilty, it was a set up, all in fun. The bootlegger was quickly released. The crowd enjoyed it and it was a great prelude to the start of the musical festivities.