Triple event ahead for Harlan next weekend

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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The Harlan Center is preparing for the convergence of three separate events on the center’s grounds as the Hot Dog Days of Kentucky, the Mountain Market and Harlan Bikefest will share the location on Sept. 23 for the enjoyment of all.

City of Harlan Tourist and Tourism Convention executive director Brandon Pennington gave a rundown on all the events planned for the day.

“This is going to be the first annual Dog Days of Kentucky, and essentially, what we’re trying to do is find the best hot dog in the state of Kentucky,” Pennington said. “We will have folks competing for the best hot dog in Kentucky, and there’s a grand prize of $1,000. The crowd favorite will win $500 and then we’ll also have a Harlan Tourism award for $250.”

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According to Pennington, there will be activities such as a hot dog eating competition, a human hot dog costume contest, and a dog hot dog costume contest, all of which are free to enter. Other attractions will include the Hot Dog Hustle 5K run. The 5K will begin at 8 a.m.

The hope is for this festival to become an annual event.

“We’re hoping to turn this festival into a big, statewide known festival,” Pennington said. “This first year, we’ve got about 30 different vendors, with about a third of those so far being hot dog vendors. We’re hoping this will continue to grow and become a huge festival that food vendors from all across the state will come to and compete annually.”

There will only be one entry per vendor for the Hot Dog contest.

“One vendor has submitted a Grippo dog, one has submitted a dessert dog, one is doing a chili cheese and bacon dog,” Pennington said. “All of them are doing their own style of hot dog to submit for judging.”

In addition to the Hot Dog Days of Kentucky, other attractions are also scheduled.

“With all this going on, we’ll also have the Mountain Market that will be taking place from noon to 6 p.m. inside the Harlan Center,” Pennington said. “We’ll have vendors set up, along with the hot dog vendors we’ll have other food vendors as well…we’ll also have ice cream, snow cones, that sort of thing.”

In addition to the food, there will also be activities for children to enjoy.

“We’re planning on setting up inflatables for kids. There will be rides there, too,” Pennington said. “We’ll have a train for the kids, a basketball game, just some kid’s activities that will be going on.”

Pennington mentioned there will be live music at the event, with DM and the 1601s headlining.

“We also have another event going on concurrently,” Pennington said. “It’s Bikefest, which is being put on by Backroads of Appalachia and the Whitley County Motorcycle Group. They are planning on bringing about 100 motorcycles down during the event. That will also be taking place from noon until 6 p.m.”

The Backroads of Appalachia website, provides additional information on the event.

“The WCMG and Backroads of Appalachia Presents HARLAN BIKE and JEEPFEST and Custom Bike Show. This event has been upgraded thanks to our friends at Harlan County Jeepers and Appalachian Woodboogers! Now the jeeps are coming also and guess what? It is on the same day as “Dog Days in Kentucky” in downtown Harlan with plenty of great music, vendors, food, and of course Hot Dogs! Come and Join us for a day of Fun, Food, Live Music, Plenty of Vendors, Custom Bikes, Jeeps, and more as we host the 1st Annual HARLAN BIKE and JEEPFEST 2023 with the city of Harlan, Kentucky in downtown Harlan! Bring out those custom bikes for your chance to win best in show and take home $200.00 and the trophy. There will also be prizes awarded for 2nd, and 3rd Place,” reads the Backroads of Appalachia website.

For more information on the events, go to the Visit Harlan County Facebook page or Registration forms for the Dog Day Championship or other events during the festival can be found at /