The 83rd annual Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival kicked off Thursday.
If opening night is any indication of the upcoming events, this years festival is correctly titled “Better Than Ever.”
The night started off with an introduction of the princess and queen candidates.
Middlesboro High School was represented by Taylor Blake Grigsby.
Representing Bell County High School was Mary Elizabeth Epperson.
Alexandria Susanne Knuckles represented Pineville High School.
Harlan County High School was represented by Anna Jo Creech.
Samantha Caitlin Henson represented Harlan High School.
Southeast Community College was represented by Mackenzie Belle Day.
Entertainment began with Bell County native, Jimmy Rose.
Rose was honored to perform at the festival.
“For a small town boy such as myself, it’s an honor to open for such a huge act like Joe Nichols,” said Rose in a pre-show interview. “It’s not everyday you get this chance.”
This is not the first time Rose has opened for Nichols.
Ten years ago, while stationed in Camp Lejeune, Rose opened for the rising country star in Raleigh, N.C.
Rose ended his set with his hometown hit, “Coal Keeps the Lights On.”
Rose finished the song to a standing ovation — most of the crowd was on their feet throughout the song, cheering and clapping.
Reigning KMLF Princess, Brooklyhn Wood, was next to take the stage.
Wood is currently a student at Southeast and released her first single and music video, “I Don’t Know Which Way to Go,” in February.
She finished her set with the single and the crowd gave her a standing ovation as she thanked everyone for coming out and supporting the festival.
Headliner Joe Nichols finished up the night.
Large neon pink and green beach balls bounced through the crowd as Nichols performed.
Nichols hit list includes “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” “She Only Smokes When She Drinks,” and “Gimme That Girl.”
Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-248-1010, ext. 205, firstname.lastname@example.org.