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Moonshine and moon science

Children’s Museum is hosting virtual gala Dec. 4

Greg Eidam, left, Sugarlands Distilling Company’s head distiller, will join Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” Mark Ramsey and Digger Manes for talk of moonshine at the Children’s Museum Gala.
Moon science and moonshine will each be featured at the Dec. 4 virtual gala hosted by the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.

The gala theme, “MoonShine on the Mountain,” celebrates the region’s mountain heritage with humor, stories, and music, as well as the museum’s own Rocket Room that encourages play in a space-like setting.

Sugarlands Distilling Co., the Gatlinburg-based producer of award-winning moonshine and other spirits, will add its expertise and storytelling to the event, supporting the gala in a variety of ways.

As for moon science, Molly McCanta will be a guest at the gala, explaining how she and her University of Tennessee students are analyzing moon rocks from NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The UT professor is participating in a three-year project with researchers at two other facilities as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969.

“NASA maintained some of these amazing samples sealed and undisturbed for 50 years, hoping for much better research technology to study them, which is exactly what happened,” said McCanta, professor of mineralogy and petrology in UT’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. UT’s role in the moon rock research is the geochemical characterization of samples to help determine the origin of the materials.

McCanta decided to become a geologist when visiting her grandparents in eastern Washington after the Mt. St. Helens volcano eruption.

The gala “MoonShine” theme provides the segway to Sugarlands’ head distiller Greg Eidam, who will take guests through the process of making moonshine. Sugarlands is donating mini moonshine jars and a silent auction crate for the gala.

Then the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” legends Mark Ramsey and Digger Manes will show guests how to build one of their moonshine cocktails, Rye Apple Moonshine, courtesy of Sugarlands.

Ramsey and Manes will mix their cocktail with Sugarlands’ award-winning Appalachian Apple Pie. The two are East Tennessee moonshine experts who learned distilling as young men.

The gala will feature the Appalachian storytelling of Sam Venable, Knoxville News Sentinel humor columnist, and music and storytelling of Chip Bailey, traditional fiddle and banjo player who has been a frequent instructor at the Oak Ridge Institute of Continued Learning.

Elza Gate, a traditional acoustic Southern music and bluegrass band, will provide pre-gala entertainment.

The gala, beginning at 7 p.m. Dec. 4, will be a virtual event this year, taking safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the annual fundraiser for the Children’s Museum, supporting the museum’s mission of educating children of all ages through play and discovery.

Gala guests are encouraged to order dinner from one of the nine Calhoun’s restaurant locations, including in Oak Ridge. The menu and online ordering can be found at Calhoun’s is a partner and sponsor of the gala.

Gala tickets are $100 per person and may be purchased at:

If you can’t attend, you may make a donation at

Call Beth Shea at the museaum at 865-482-1074 to learn more about gala sponsorships or for more information about the event.