PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (AP) — Voters in the Great Smoky Mountains gateway city of Pigeon Forge have again voted down liquor by the drink, leaving Gatlinburg and Sevierville the only nearby resort towns serving alcohol in a region known for its moonshine heritage.
The unofficial result Tuesday was 590-482. The issue also lost in 2009.
The area, portrayed as a moonshine-rich region in the Robert Mitchum movie “Thunder Road” and other works, draws 9.4 million tourists annually to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Pigeon Forge, on busy U.S. 441 leading into the park from Interstate 40, is lined with motels, restaurants, miniature golf courses, go-cart tracks, shopping malls and other tourist attractions including the Dollywood theme park.
Pastor Ronnie Reagan, who had become one of the most prominent public faces of the opposition, was at the polls throughout the day and stayed to celebrate the results.
“I just thank the Lord everyone spoke out like they did,” he told The Mountain Press.
The paper said church groups appealed to old-line values, campaigning about the dangers of strong drink.
“I’ve just felt a good fellowship with these people throughout the day,” Reagan said.
Businesswoman Pam Ogle said she and the business community were shocked.
“There was so much weighing on this,” she said. “We just thought there was no way the voters would turn their backs on the potential for new jobs and revenue.
“It was a defining moment for the city of Pigeon Forge.”
Businessman Ken Maples said the city is losing revenue to Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
“I am extremely disappointed our residents would continue to give tax dollars away like that,” he said. “The city has to find new sources of revenue and this was a perfect revenue source. When the people get their taxes raised, when they get hit in the pocketbook, then we’ll get liquor by the drink.”