2023 Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen crowned in Pineville

WYMT Mountain News Weekend Edition newscast at 11 p.m. on Saturday
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 7:07 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
WYMT Mountain News Weekend Edition newscast at 6 p.m. on Saturday

BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Governor Andy Beshear announced on Saturday the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival (KMLF) is the longest-running festival in Kentucky.

“It takes you back and even today, in the twenty-first century, it just makes it seem like you’re in the forties or the fifties. Things haven’t changed at all,” said Neale Bennett, KMLF director and foundation president.

One of the most anticipated events within the festival is the Queen’s Coronation, and this year, 17 candidates representing colleges and universities across the Commonwealth took part.

“They’ve made friendships, they’ve made relationships, they’ve even made contacts to say, ‘hey, I was in the festival,’ and when you do that, we have directors all around the nation, so that could land somebody a job,” said Kristy Burnett, 2023 KMLF co-chair.

Representing Southeast Community College, Paige Smith of Barbourville earned the coveted title of Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen.

“It means so much because I have just enjoyed myself so much,” Smith said. “Watching how seriously they take it and the tradition behind it, and all the thought and preparation behind every aspect of it; it’s just the fact that they chose me to represent them is very much an honor to me. I’m very honored and proud to be representing them.”

The Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Governor’s Luncheon also took place on Saturday. During the event, Governor Andy Beshear announced more than $2 million in funding was awarded to Bell County for different projects. For more information on the funding, click here.

Although the festival’s most popular events have concluded, several community church services and the KMLF Queen’s Breakfast will take place in Pineville Sunday morning.