Lindsay Ratliff, the 2015 Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen, will be returning to Pineville for the Memorial Day weekend.
And Ratliff (pictured) won’t be the festival queen much longer as a new one will be crowned on Saturday, May 28. But blonde senior from Western Kentucky University is still enthusiastic about her upcoming visit to Bell County in the southeastern Kentucky mountains.
“I’m so excited to return to the community of Pineville,” she said. “I have made so many connections and friends through this festival and I’m so excited to see them again. The spirit within this small town is evident year round, but especially beautiful during the weekend of the KMLF.
“My favorite part about being the KMLF queen has been experiencing the traditions of the festival, but knowing I’ll always feel welcome when I return for a visit.”
The 21-year-old Ratliff certainly feels at home in the mountains as she was born and lived in Martin County (which is near Pikeville) for seven years before moving to Frankfort.
An agribusiness major, Ratliff recently finished her final exams at WKU and she has one more semester of studies before graduating early in December. At WKU, she participates in several activities, including serving as an agricultural ambassador and chapter president of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
According to Ratliff, she will work as an intern with Farm Credit Mid-America this summer.
Why is she studying agriculture?
"I didn't grow up on a farm. I became involved with FFA through showing livestock, particularly Market Hogs, and it became a hobby,” said Ratliff. “I also took agricultural education courses in high school which sparked my interest in the industry that feeds the world.
“I feel very passionately about Kentucky farms and farm families as well as working to solve agricultural issues through policies and advocation.”
Before coming to WKU, she attended Western Hills High School in Frankfort where she was a cheerleader and vice president of her high school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. She was also chosen the Miss Franklin County Fair.
If you didn’t know her and just read about her agricultural background, you probably would be very surprised to learn that she is a beauty pageant winner. Not many cheerleaders or queens have a background in farming.
Ratliff said, “There is a stigma associated with females involved in the agricultural industry, but I’m a country girl and proud of it.”
Ratliff was asked about her future plans after WKU.
“After graduation, I plan to begin working in the agricultural industry and I’m also thinking about law school. I’m very interested in politics and hope that one day I might be able to advocate for Kentucky farmers in government,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the scholarship provided by the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival and I’d like to express my gratitude for the support. One day, I hope to be able to give back to this community. Pineville, Ky., holds a special place in my heart.”
While Ratliff may be a “farm girl,” she undoubtedly will be a success in whatever route she decides to take in the future.
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More information about the upcoming events, including a concert by Jordan Smith of NBC’s The Voice fame, at Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival can be found on its Web site at www.kmlf.org. KMLF first began in 1931 and is one of Kentucky’s oldest festivals.
Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor of KySportsStyle.com online magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.
Photos by Jamie H. Vaught