Shriners and city officials rejoice with planned return of Hillbilly Days festival

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Published: Feb. 19, 2022 at 7:10 PM EST
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Hillbilly Days is a famous and historic event in Eastern Kentucky and one of the largest and longest-running festivals in the Commonwealth. In 2020 and 2021, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but officials are planning on a comeback in late April.

“1977 was the first year. It’s gone on continuously through 2019 and then in 2020 and 2021, unfortunately, we had to cancel that because of the pandemic,” said Pikeville City Manager Philip Elswick. “It started as a collaboration between the Shriners, then the city and the county, of course, it was hosted in Pikeville, and it’s just grown from that point till now.”

The festival is one of the main fundraisers for the Shriners Hospital for Children and previous cancelations have put strains on the Shriners’ fundraising tactics.

“Hillbilly Days is a tremendous fundraiser for them, you know, they split the funds with the chamber based on the registration fees of vendors,” said Elswick. “Not having had that festival has created quite a difference for them in their fund-raising abilities every year.”

Much to the elation of city officials, the Shriners, as well as locals, the festival is on the agenda for 2022.

“This year we are, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the rise of another variant, or something of that nature, we certainly intend to host the festival,” said Elswick.

Elswick also said this year’s festival has the potential to be bigger than ever before with a record number of vendors reaching out to secure their spot.

2022′s Hillbilly Days Festival is currently scheduled for April 21, 22, and 23.

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