One of the state’s most popular festivals has a new queen.
Taking the 2016 Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival crown this past weekend at the Pine Mountain State Resort Park is Connor Rose Cook, representing the University of Pikeville. A psychology major, Cook beat out other 19 coeds from other colleges and universities in Kentucky for the coveted honor.
The junior from Louisville also plays volleyball at UPike.
“I’m so beyond honored and proud to represent my amazing university and now the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival,” wrote the new queen on her Facebook page on Sunday. “This has been an experience I’ll never forget that I can cherish forever.
“I’m so thankful for the friendships I established and also the relationships I’ve made with the community of Pineville. I’m so honored to be the 2016 Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen.”
Making his KMLF debut, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin continued an old festival tradition by appearing at the festival and crowning the new queen at Laurel Cove, one of the country’s most beautiful natural amphitheaters, which is located at the state park.
The 2015 queen was Western Kentucky University’s Lindsay Ratliff.
Another KMLF festival highlight in Pineville was singer Jordan Smith of NBC’s The Voice fame, who gave a rousing concert performance. He is also a native of Harlan County.
In addition, the four-day festival is filled with crafts and concession stands as well as numerous activities, including downtown entertainment, 5K Run/Walk, Princess Coronation, Gala Parade, among others.
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.
Photo by Jamie H.Vaught