Mountain Laurel Festival set for Memorial Day weekend

Published 3:32 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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The Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival is taking place in Pineville this Memorial Day weekend with plenty of activities on the schedule.

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Annually in May, colleges and universities across Kentucky designate a singular representative to participate in the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival that is held over the Memorial Day weekend. Ever since 1931, the chosen candidates have convened in Pineville, Kentucky for the duration of the festival.

Upon the coronation ceremony, each representative is obliged to execute a distinctive and intricate 15-second curtsy to the governor, followed by the governor crowning the queen.

This year is the 92nd Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival, one of Kentucky’s oldest standing traditions.

“In Middlesboro, Bell County, Pineville, they do what’s called a mini court, so really I feel like I’ve been participating in the festival really since kindergarten,” said chairperson Lindsey Ross.

Ross, 32, is a third-generation KMLF chairman.

Each day of the festival has several activities lined up. The event is set to have crafts, concessions and carnival rides.

Thursday, the festival opens with the introduction of the Queen and Princess candidates, followed by entertainment by country music star Kameron Marlow.

Friday’s activities consist of the Queen’s Reception, as well as Princess Coronation and the KMLF Lip Sync Battle.

Harlan High School’s Lily Clare Dickenson was crowned the 2022 Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Princess from a field of 18 candidates, becoming the eighth Green Dragon to win the crown, and will be honored at the Princess dinner on Friday.

This year, the local Princess candidates representing Bell County High School is Blair Riley Browning, representing Middlesboro High School is Ms. Madison Elise Bruce, and representing Pineville High School is Ms. Jaslyn Marie Rutherford.

Ross says the Queen’s dinner on Friday also honors last years KMLF Queen, Morgan Warren, from Union College, followed by the princess coronation.

Saturday’s festivities include the Apex 5K Run, KMLF Gala Parade, Governor’s Luncheon, 2022 Queen’s Coronation, KMLF Queen’s Grad Ball and more.

Sunday will include the KMLF 2023 Queen’s Breakfast and worship services.

For more information about the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival and to view the full schedule, visit