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Annual Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival opens Thursday

The Kentucky Mountain Laurel is one of Kentucky’s oldest festivals dating back to its start in 1931. That year, the festival was established by Annie Walker Burns as a way to honor her famous ancestor, Dr. Thomas Walker. Since its inception, the continued devotion of so many has kept the festival tradition alive for over 80 years.

The 89th KMLF kicks off Thursday with an all-day picnic at Pine Mountain State Resort Park and downtown arts and crafts surrounding courthouse square. The official opening of the festival will take place that night at 7 p.m. when Chairperson Becky Combs Collett and Co-Chairman Colby Slusher introduce the princess and queen candidates at Bell County High School prior to Wynonna (Judd) & the Big Noise taking the stage to perform.

Reigning Queen Miss Gabrielle Chandler Pyles of Lindsey Wilson College and Reigning Princess Sarah Elizabeth Combs of Pineville High School will be in attendance for the opening ceremony events.

Downtown arts and crafts continue Friday and vendor applications are still available if you would like to set up around Courthouse Square in Pineville.

The Princess Coronation will take place Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the old gymnasium at Pineville High School. Admission is $5 at the door.

The KMLF 5K begins Saturday at 8 a.m. in the Pineville McDonald’s parking lot and concludes at the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival office on Virginia Avenue. Registration and entry fee are $15. If you haven’t registered prior to the race Saturday, the registration will open at 7 a.m. and includes a 5K race T-shirt. Cash or checks are accepted.

First, second and third place medals will be awarded for each male and female age division at the finish line.

The Gala Parade will follow the 5K at 10 a.m. throughout historic downtown Pineville. The grand marshal for this year’s parade is Jaime Claire Corum. The annual Governor’s Luncheon will take place at noon at Pine Mountain State Resort Park and is open to the public. The cost of the lunch is $25.

Saturday also hosts the Queen’s Coronation at the amphitheater at Laurel Cove. This time honored tradition includes crowning of the queen with a crown made of handpicked Mountain Laurel. During the Coronation, each queen candidate curtseys to the governor of Kentucky, and he then crowns the winning Queen.

The annual street dance is held Saturday night and is open to the public from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. in downtown Pineville.

There is an event for everyone in the family to enjoy and the community is invited and encouraged to attend.

All KMLF events are family-oriented and many are free and open to the public and those that do require tickets are can be purchased at the entrance of the event.

For more information you can contact the KMLF office at 606-337-6103 of find them on Facebook and Twitter.