Hillbilly Days of Pikeville, Kentucky: Mardi Gras of the Mountains

April 10, 2013
Welcome to Hillbilly Days (source: http://activerain.com)

Image source: http://activerain.com

Hillbilly Days: April 18th – 20th, 2013

Festivals of every kind are held year-round in all parts of the country.  However, if we had to pick just one to attend all year, our first choice for a hoot n’ hollerin’ good time would be the annual Hillbilly Days Festival in Pikeville, Kentucky.  Nicknamed the “Mardi Gras of the Mountains”, Hillbilly Days celebrates the best of Appalachian culture.


A brief history:

Hillbilly Days of Pikeville began in 1977 as a fundraiser to support the Lexington, KY Shriners Children’s Hospital. Since then, this annual event has grown to become one of the largest festivals in Kentucky, only second to the Kentucky Derby Festival.


At the festival…

Talented artists and craftspeople come from across the United States to showcase and sell their work, while others compete for the Best Dressed Hillbilly outfit.

Down Home Folks at Hillbilly Days 2009 (Source: Link)

Down Home Folks at Hillbilly Days 2009 (Source: Link)


There’s great food

Just look at all that in the photo below. Clearly, there’s something to eat for everyone. I think I smell ribs.

Hillbilly Days, Pikeville, KY (Source http://www.hillbillydays.com

Hillbilly Days, Pikeville, KY (Source –  http://stalkerclan.blogspot.com)


There’s a carnival and a crazy parade

What size is that underwear?! There seems to be a lot of enormous underwear at Hillbilly Days.

Hillbilly Days Parade (Image source: http://www.hillbillydays.com)

Hillbilly Days Parade (Image source: http://www.hillbillydays.com)


And just when you thought it could not possibly get any better that, there’s also…

Fantastic Music 

In Pikeville, Kentucky, nationally recognized musicians gather at Hillbilly Days to entertain fans of mountain music from all across the country. It’s hardly a surprise that this festival is often referred to as the “Woodstock” of mountain music.

Here are just two of the many groups in the lineup.

Coaltown Dixie

An all-girl bluegrass band, originating from the hills of Appalachia.

Coaltown Dixie (Link: http://coaltowndixie.com)

Coaltown Dixie (Melanie “Little Earl” Turner, Stephanie “Della May” Rose, Kristen “Mando Chick” Preston, Kalyn “Peach” Bradford) Link: http://coaltowndixie.com 


The Kevin Prater Band

A Kentucky bluegrass band that also combines elements of country and gospel.

Kevin Prater Band (Photo: Bradford Photography)

The Kevin Prater Band – link (Band members: John White, David Prezioso, Kevin Prater, Danny Stiltner & John Timberlake; On Facebook, Photo:Bradford Photography)

With so much toe-tapping music, there’s gotta be dancing!! At Hillbilly Days, you’ll find:

Square Dancing 


Square Dancing (Photo uncredited, Image source)

Square Dancing (Photo uncredited from another event, Image source)



Look!  It’s Hillbilly Dave!… Why he’s one of the best, most high-kickin’-est dancers at Hillbilly Days! 

Hillbilly Days Dancing (Flickr image: MMlander photo stream)

Hillbilly Days Dancing (Flickr image: MMlander photo stream)

Check out Dave and some of the other terrific dancers in the videos below.

Besides the great dancing, we love these clips because they remind us of a few important things:

  • Yes, dance is an art form, but it is also about culture. When we watch this dancing, we’re witnessing a distinct part of our American heritage.
  • Dance is at its best when it is about people getting together and having fun.

Having fun is just what these wild, crazy Hillbilly Days are all about!

Enjoy the videos!




The Dancing Outlaw

Although he’s not scheduled to appear at Hillbilly Days, we can’t mention mountain music and clogging without recognizing Jesco White, also known as “The Dancing Outlaw”. An accomplished mountain dancer (a style unique to Appalachia which combines elements of clogging and tap dancing), Jesco rose to fame after the release of a series of documentaries about his tumultuous life. You can find out more about him here: Jesco White: The Dancing Outlaw.

Jesco White (Image: http://bucketcity.ning.com)

Jesco White (Image: http://bucketcity.ning.com)

D. Ray White

D. Ray White

There is also a documentary featuring Jesco’s father, the famous mountain dancer, D. Ray White.  The film is called “Talking Feet: Solo Southern Dance – Flatfoot, Buck and Tap” by Mike Seeger and Ruth Pershing.  The film can be seen by clicking on the link below:

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One Response to Hillbilly Days of Pikeville, Kentucky: Mardi Gras of the Mountains

  1. April 11, 2013 at 2:32 am

    Please send us your photos and videos from the event!