69th Annual Poke Sallet Festival kicks off

Published 2:13 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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On Thursday afternoon, the 69th edition of Harlan County’s Poke Sallet Festival roared to life, setting the stage for the three-day event folks from all over the region look forward to attending each year.

This year’s Poke Sallet Festival kicked off as usual with the opening ceremony, featuring students from the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy and the Sunshine School. The ChalleNGe Academy cadets performed a presentation of colors honoring the United States of America to a respectful crowd. Shortly after, the preschoolers of the Sunshine School regaled those in attendance with a song exclaiming the virtues of Poke Sallet.

Following the opening ceremony, the festival went into full swing. Early festival goers were able to sample a multitude of different foods and drinks available from the dozens of vendors stationed throughout the festival grounds surrounding the Harlan Center. Among the choices this year are donuts, funnel cakes, deep fried Oreos, hot dogs, cheesesteak, corn dogs, French fries, sausages, and many other fun foods.

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“My favorite part of Poke is the food,” said festival attendee Virgil Hampton. “I love the donuts!”

Many of the younger people in attendance wasted no time in taking advantage of the carnival rides such as a Ferris wheel and the reverse bungee, or slingshot, among other attractions.

The Miss Harlan County Scholarship Pageant was also held in conjunction with the Poke Sallet Festival. According to the Poke Sallet Festival’s Facebook page, Tess Bryson was named Miss Harlan County 2024. Other winners were Alyssa Burkhart who was chosen most photogenic, first runner up was Jenna Wilson, second runner up went to Destiny Jo Farly, and Chloe Schwenke was named Miss Congeniality.

The night was capped off with a performance from Rebecca St. James, who pulled in a multitude of festival goers to hear her perform her brand of Contemporary Christian music.

“She’s wonderful,” said Laura Hensley, of Smith. “I came here tonight just to hear her sing.”

The Poke Sallet Festival continues through Saturday, June, 1.