2017 Hillbilly Days Festival In Pikeville Kentucky

The Stereotypical Hillbilly of Yore

Howard “Dirty Ear” Stratton and “Shady” Grady Kinney founded the Hillbilly Days Festival in Pikeville, Kentucky back in 1977. Since then the party has slowly grown til now an estimated 100k people attend each year.

There will be coon dogs for petting, big bowls of soup beans for eating, and two concerts by country music star Chris Stapleton to round off the affair.

The festival is run by Hillbilly Clan #2, just one of roughly 187 clans that are scattered across North America. Each clan is associated with a Shrine temple and proceeds from Hillbilly Days go to the Shriner hospital in Lexington.

Imperial Clan of the Grand and Glorious Order of the Hillbilly Degree is the official title of the umbrella organization.

April 20-22 2017 downtown Pikeville will host tens of thousands of hillbillies, city folks, tourists, entrepreneurs, and people just out trying to have a good time in one of the prettiest parts of the entire United States.

During my research I discovered that there is a ‘possum queen’ who reigns over the festivities. The Annual Hillbilly Beauty Pageant will be held at the Pike Central High School, April 15th, 2017, beginning at 11 a.m.

Some of the best looking women in North America live in Eastern Kentucky, I imagine the pageant winner will be most fair.

Controversy has dogged the festival over the years with people taking umbrage at the word ‘hillbilly’

One only has to look at an historical screenshot from the official event page back in 2001 to see how some folks could potentially be offended. It read (in part)

“Welkum ya’ll…Come on in, crack open a Pepsi, and sit a spell rite cher in good old Pikeville, Kentucky! We would like to thank everwun for visitun us during the 2001 Hillbilly Days.”

I was born and raised in Appalachia and take no offense but I’ve developed a good thick skin over the years, and slings and arrows directed at mountain folks often do more damage to the flinger than their potential victims.

I remember when Cracker Barrel’s menu used the same grammatical appropriation of mountain slang. I could hardly understand the script when I was a kid. The front of the menu used to exhort “If you need anything that ain’t on here holler at the cook.”

Eggs were ‘aigs.’

Hillbilly Days has donated over a million dollars to the Shriners hospital in Lexington since the event was founded.

How To Get To Pikeville Kentucky

About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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