This year's festival theme is “A Reigning Legacy.” The theme, according to festival planners, was chosen because of the beautiful scenery, warm hospitality and tremendous pride that is evident in the hills of southeastern Kentucky.
The highlighting event of the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival is the crowning of the festival queen and princess. Pine Mountain State Resort Park has always hosted the pageant at its natural amphitheater in Laurel Cove. The towering limestone cliffs accented by the vivid pink colors of the Mountain Laurel bloom provides a stunning setting for the coronation of the queen and her court.
The first Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival was presented in 1931 at the suggestion of Annie Walker Burns. Her original purpose was to honor Dr. Thomas Walker, who was the first European to enter Kentucky and who, along with a party of explorers, visited the present site of Pineville in 1750.
Burns was captivated by the history and beauty of Pineville and its surroundings and appealed to Gov. Flem D. Sampson to initiate some type of event to honor Walker. As far as festival planners can determine, the Kentucky Mountain Laurel festival is the oldest continuous event of its kind in the United States.
This year's festival opens Thursday with arts and crafts booths plus a carnival set up in downtown Pineville. At 7:45 p.m., “The Temptations” will perform at the Bell County High School Gym.
On Friday night, the princess coronation will take place at Pineville High School gym. At 2 p.m. on Saturday, the Kentucky Mountain Laurel festival queen's coronation will take place at the Laurel Cove Amphitheater.
For additional event information, log on to the festival's Web site at www.kmlf.org.