‘This is a festival with a heart’: Folks are reminded about what the Hillbilly Days Festival is all about

Hillbilly Days was started in 1977 as a way to raise money for the Shriner's Hospitals. Since...
Hillbilly Days was started in 1977 as a way to raise money for the Shriner's Hospitals. Since then, the festival has raised more than $4 million.(WYMT)
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 5:07 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - In 1977, two Shriners came together to plan a fundraiser featuring a small parade, homemade crafts, and food. Now, more than 40 years later, the small gettogether has turned into one of Eastern Kentucky’s largest events of the year.

“It’s a great thing,” said Pikeville City Manager Philip Elswick. “It’s a great festival with a great mission and we’re really glad to be a part of it.”

The festival is not just fun and games. Along with being a place to celebrate Hillbilly Heritage, the goal is to raise as much money as possible for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children in nearby Lexington and Cincinnati.

“This is a festival with a heart, being the Shriner’s Hospital,” said Jimmy Kinney, a member of the Hillbilly Clan who originally started the festival. “You come here and you have fun and spend your money and a good portion of that money is going to Lexington or Cincinnati Shriner’s Hospital.”

The money raised ensures that more than 1,000 children who are patients throughout the Big Sandy region are taken care of and makes sure the Shriner’s Hospital can stay free.

“The transportation of kids to Lexington, to see physicians, and appointments, there is no cost to visiting the Shriner’s Hospital,” said Elswick.

Kinney also said, since 1977, Hillbilly Days has raised more than $4 million for the Shriners Hospital and hopes the festival can continue to support children.

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