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Local KMLF queen, princess candidates announced

You can support our local princess and queen candidates during the 89th Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival slated May 23-26. The Princess Coronation will be Friday at 8:30 p.m. at the old Pineville High School gymnasium, located on Laurel Street.

This year’s local princess candidates are: Emersyn Leigh Noah, representing Harlan High School; and Rhileigh Starr Alred, Harlan County High School.

Emersyn is the daughter of Dondi and Stacy Noah. Rhileigh is the daughter of Dusty and Holly Alred.

Each year, area high schools are invited to send a princess representative to the festival. The candidates are introduced at the official opening of the festival, are treated to a reception and dinner and then vie for the crown. It has become one of the highlights of the festival.

Saturday will begin with the Gala Parade at 10 a.m. in downtown Pineville. The crowning of the 2018 Kentucky Mountain Laurel queen will be held at the Laurel Cove Amphitheater (Pine Mountain State Resort Park) at 2 p.m.

Leah Catherine Evans will represent Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College as this year’s queen candidate.

Colleges and universities across the Commonwealth are invited to send a representative to the festival each Memorial Day weekend. It is left to the school’s discretion as to how a candidate is selected. Private homes in Pineville open their doors to host candidates and escorts for the weekend and all meals are supplied by the festival organization.

There are picnics, receptions, dances, a parade, the coronation, a grand ball and a culminating breakfast to honor the new queen, who wears a crown made of live mountain laurel blooms and carries a hand-made bouquet — a tradition many years old.

The reigning princess is Sarah Elizabeth Combs, and the reigning queen is Gabrielle Chandler Pyles.

In addition to the Princess and Queen Coronations, the festival features quality crafts and concessions, a 5K run, carnival, fireworks display and the opening night concert at Bell County High School featuring Wynonna Judd.

The Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival is one of Kentucky’s oldest festivals, finding its start in 1931, when Mrs. Annie Walker Burns established the festival as a way to honor her famous ancestor, Dr. Thomas Walker, a pioneer explore. Since that time, the devotion and hospitality of so many, along with the resonant history of the festival, have enabled this beautiful event to thrive for 80 years.

To reserve tickets or receive more information, visit www.kmlf.org or the festival Facebook page.