Kentucky is a most unique Commonwealth for many reasons.
First, our importance begins in geography and the forming of the nation. The Cumberland Gap was named for the Duke of Cumberland. The natural gap in the mountain created the only forgeable crossing for those earlier pioneers and settlers who traveled along the Appalachian route searching for a way to get over the mountains. In 1750, Dr. Thomas Walker discovered the Cumberland Gap, but it was Daniel Boone and all those who followed the Wilderness Road Trail that made it famous.
The month of May is unique in Kentucky because of events of the first weekend and the last weekend.
The first weekend in May hosts the Kentucky Derby. Hats, Horses and Hot Browns. Now you can see my ministerial training at work in the 3 H’s of the Derby.
The last weekend in May, the City of Pineville-Bell County, hosts the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival. The uniqueness continues as the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen’s Coronation and Pageant concludes with the Crowning of a Queen at the Laurel Cove Amphitheater. The Queen Candidates represent the colleges and universities from across Kentucky. The festival also hosts a Princess Pageant with the Crowning of the Princess on Friday night of the Festival Weekend.
Locally representing our area high achools are: Barbourville – Courtney Leanne Mills; Corbin – Hayley Alaina Abbott; Knox Central – Hannah Brook Campbell; North Laurel – Taylor Hubbard; South Laurel – Courtney Paige Benfield; Whitley – Kari Raine Sears; Williamsburg – Julia Lauren Higginbotham.
The festival begins on Thursday evening, May 23rd at Bell County High School. Red Bow Records Recording Artist Joe Nichols will be the evening’s entertainment.
These ladies have assumed a great leadership role by participating in the festival. Their schools have placed a great deal of confidence in them by their selection to serve as representatives in this year’s event too.
I have been involved with the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival for many years, including services as a member of the Board of Directors. Each year witnessing the grace and beauty of the pageant Princess and Queen Candidates reminds me of what happens on the inside of each individual when we commit to a higher calling or service.
Each year, the festival welcomes many first time visitors to this Kentucky Tradition. For local Princess Candidates, the festival opportunity allows for them to see the city and its residents in a way probably never before experienced.
Here in the mountains we like to talk about putting your “best foot forward.” It is basically the idea that we want folks to see the best in us and we are striving to make sure they see it.
At the Laurel Cove Amphitheater each year, the park staff creates a beautiful reflecting pool. On Saturday afternoon during the Queen’s Coronation, the representatives all dressed in white dresses will line the rock edge of the reflecting pool. There is absolutely nothing prettier than that moment when the Queen Candidates stand and the radiant blue water reflects their images.
Seeing your own reflection is unique in life. Oftentimes we go to look in a mirror to see what we see. Having a clear view is important when considering what you are seeing. Understanding the value of the reflection can make all the difference in the world.
Seeing yourself as a beauty created in His image is a great starting point anytime. You may never be in a beauty pageant, wear a crown or have to present a curtsy before others. You may never walk across a stage or ride in a parade float.
But if you place your trust and faith in Jesus, you will one day walk on streets of gold and be surrounded by gates of pearl.