Second day of 68th Annual Poke Sallet Festival kicks off

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 4:11 PM EDT
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Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11

HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT) - We are in the midst of festival season in Eastern Kentucky, and this week, it’s Harlan’s turn for the fun.

Friday marked the second day of the 68th Annual Poke Sallet Festival in downtown Harlan.

The weekend features several events, including the “Run for the Hills 5K”, a pet show, Miss Harlan County Pageant, and a car show.

Several musical acts are also on stage this weekend, including Eastern Kentucky’s own American Idol winner Noah Thompson. That concert is scheduled for Saturday, June 3, at 9:00 p.m.

“It’s one of those festivals that’s based on a tradition that our ancestors in Appalachia have used for a long time,” said Brandon Pennington with City of Harlan Tourism.

With music and carnival rides, the festival combines tradition with a modern twist.

“It really does show that you have this modern twist of modern music and modern Appalachia tied in with a unique culture of Appalachia as well,” Pennington said.

Poke is obviously the featured item at the festival, and restaurants in Harlan are cooking up different ways to serve it.

The Sports Cafe is going for a more traditional approach, adding eggs and bacon with the poke.

“We fry bacon. Keep the bacon grease on hand. We fry the poke in the bacon grease, and after we get it fried really good, we start adding eggs to it,” employee Billie Noe said.

The Harlan County Beer Company went a different route, adding poke onto a burger.

“What we did -- it’s our brioche bun with lettuce and tomato. Our angus beef patty. We take our house pimento cheese and we add that which of course is a huge southern Appalachian food itself,” Harlan County Beer Company General Manager Jacki Bentley said.

The Harlan County Beer Company will also be serving “poke benny” on Sunday, June 4, for brunch. It will include poke with eggs benedict ingredients.