Hillbilly Days – Pikeville, Kentucky

Hillbilly Days is a festival that takes place in downtown Pikeville and serves as a fundraiser for the Shriner’s’ Children’s Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Not only are there multiple stages with plenty of bluegrass music, but there’s an Artisan Village, all sorts of food vendors, Bootleggers Alley, various children’s activities, a huge carnival and more.

2025 DATE: TBD
Location: Downtown Pikeville
Website: https://www.hillbillydays.com/

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This post documents my experience on April 19-20, 2024.

Getting to the Festival

The festival takes place in the area of downtown Pikeville marked by the circle in the above image. Many of the roads in this area are closed off for the festival with some parking lots run by area organizations who offer spots for a fee.

The Hampton Inn is a prime location for the festival and, if you can get a room there, you would have access to the garage and then could easily visit the festival at your leisure.

Otherwise, you can try your luck at street parking or along Bypass Road (marked with a blue line), where cars can park along the shoulder along the huge rock wall.

I recommend parking at the shopping plaza marked by the X, which isn’t that long of a walk. A shuttle also comes by to pick up and drop off festival guests (there may be a second pickup/drop-off at the high school as well).

Festival Overview and Grounds

Hillbilly Days, a festival that benefits the Shriner’s’ Children’s Hospital, takes place in downtown Pikeville…

…a town known for its more interesting hillbilly past…

…and the Shriners are able to have fun with this…

…raising money through the sales of hillbilly merch…

…including hillbilly bubble bath and toothbrush family packs…

…bringing in Hillbilly cars for visitors to admire (seen later in the parade)…

…offering some fun hillbilly photo ops…

…and just helping people let go and embrace their inner hillbillies.

The Carnival

When coming into town, it was hard not to notice the carnival.

The large area offered all sorts of rides…

…both for thrill-seeking…

…and more easy-going riders…

…with plenty of games and carnival food.

Vendors

Many streets were lined with booths and tables…

…offering everything from blankets, plushies and knick-knacks…

…to hand-crafted forged knives and metal goods.

You could also get your name on a keychain or ring…

…shop among apparel for soldiers and hillbillies alike…

…keep up on your health at the many medical/health booths present…

…and/or build your relationship with Jesus (especially if your health was getting away from you).

There was also food…

…LOTS of food from Hillbilly Burgers and sweet Dixie Tea…

…to all sorts of delicious BBQ dishes.

There was seafood…

…steak…

…plenty of Asian food options, including Korean and Thai…

…a plethora of deep-fried possibilities…

…and even some relatively healthy dishes, like this quesadilla with spinach, sundried tomato, olive and cheese…

…all of which could be finished by these popular Amish donuts.

The Artisan Village

An “Artisan Village” may sound too fancy for Hillbilly Festival at first…

…but place it in a parking garage and it will be right as rain.

And while there were all sorts of hats and raccoon tail beer cozies to go along with the theme…

…vendors in the village also offered a great variety of crystals…

…handmade goat milk soaps, artisanal candles…

…flavorful sauces and pickles…

…and even hand-rolled cigars made of bourbon barrel-aged tobacco.

Things to do and see

Stages were set up all over the grounds…


…entertaining folks with bluegrass music (Kevin Prater Band)…


…some mellow jazz…


…and even more bluegrass music.

There were also all sorts of shows and competitions going on at the Mountain Top Media booth…


…and who didn’t enjoy catching a Canines in the Clouds show?

Face painting and train riding offered plenty of distractions for the kids…

…not to mention the jump zone with bounce houses…

…and a cage for throwing axes (for older kids).

All the while, the parents could head to Bootleggers Alley…

…where breweries, wineries…

…distilleries and even bakeries…

…offered special alcoholic beverages…

…and spirited snacks to help pass the time…

…before heading to the parade…

…and enjoying all those hillbilly vehicles and riders cruising down the street.


It was definitely worth checking out.

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