KNOX COUNTY — This weekend, Pineville-Bell County celebrates the season of spring with the 84th Annual Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival, and this year’s theme is “Springtime Splendor.”
This region we love to call home has a rich history filled with pioneers that crossed the Cumberland Gap cutting a trail creating the Wilderness Road. The festival idea was presented in 1931 by Ms. Annie Walker Burns who sought the help and support of then-Kentucky Governor Flem D. Sampson, from Barbourville. The festival was designed to celebrate the history of this area and the beauty of the region, most especially the mountain laurel flower.
Being true to the history of this area, I love to write about the trail first known as “the warriors path.” I am always mindful that the Indians were here first, and we actually invaded their home before clearing land to claim a new stake in the new frontier. Dr Thomas Walker noted the narrow path and named the Cumberland Gap when he was surveying the land pressing his way through the brush. Dr. Walker and his axemen cut a trail marking his way from the Gap to the Narrows of Pineville.
The ‘Narrows’ are historically noted because of the way the mountains came together beginning at Wasioto continuing along the Cumberland River created by the natural flow of the river.
Every early pioneer crossed the Cumberland Ford which was, and is, a low spot in the Cumberland River where the creek waters join the Cumberland River. The location is famous because it was the best crossing point for travelers which include not only the pioneers of the day but during the Civil War both Union and Confederate Troops.
Today, we modern movers use a concrete constructed bridge for our crossing, but remembering how things were once has value. Dr. Thomas Walker ended his exploration in Barbourville-Knox County and his work and efforts are honored with a state park that bears his name.
Gathering this weekend in the Gem City of the Cumberlands will be representatives of Kentucky’s colleges and universities striving to be crowned Queen of the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival on Saturday afternoon at the Laurel Cove Amphitheater. On Friday night, a Princess will be selected from the representatives of the area high schools.
The events of the weekend include a parade down the streets of Pineville, a concert, food booths surrounding the courthouse, lots of live music events, quilt displays, various exhibits, receptions, dinners and dancing, all a part of the “Springtime Splendor” being celebrated in Pineville-Bell County.
With so many first-time visitors experiencing this region and countless ‘home folks’ making a return visit, this is a great opportunity to not only say welcome and thanks for visiting but to share a blessing and best wishes as you continue your travels.
I have long shared a simple prayer in cards and letters over the years that I believe provides for a positive attitude that is prepared to guide us in life even when a festival of fun and celebration is not available for attendance and participation. My prayer for each of you is this: “I pray that you will always see the sunshine through the rain and the rainbow behind every cloud.”
I can only imagine the early pioneers who had many different experiences along their travels of exploration and adventure. I can only imagine about the days they had wished for clear skies and a bright shining moon to walk along their paths in life, instead of the cloud- filled skies, or moments of falling snow and cold chilling temperatures. We never know what lies ahead nor where our journeys may take us. We can however live our lives in a confident manner, and allow our feet to be guided by the unseen hand of God through the leadership of His Holy Spirit in our lives.
You can reach Tim Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org