The 43rd Annual Hillbilly Days Festival will kick of Thursday in Pikeville, with several new events and music, entertainment, food and fun for all.

The main purpose behind the annual event is to raise funds for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Lexington, which provides several types of orthopedic care for children regardless of the parents’ ability to pay. The festival has, since its inception, resulted in more than $2 million going to the hospital.

Vendors will get open on Pikeville’s streets Thursday morning, with three stages of live music — in the Pikeville City Park, in the Pike County Courthouse Square and the Billy Johnson Stage located at the Main Street entrance to the East Kentucky Expo Center — getting underway at noon.

The annual Hillbilly Days Welcoming Ceremony will get underway at 5 p.m. in the Pikeville City Park.

Throughout the three days of the event, the Hillbilly Days Carnival will be underway throughout and continues through the weekend.

Several new events will be taking place this year.

One such event is the Local Artisan & Craft Fair, which will be located in the East Kentucky Expo Center Thursday and Friday beginning at 9 a.m. each day.

From handcrafted jewelry, to home-cooked jams, jellies and preserves, to hand-stitched or carved goods, the best and brightest artisans and crafters exclusively from around Eastern Kentucky will be presenting their wares for visitors to take home a little bit of Pikeville home with them.

To qualify for space in the Local Artisan & Craft Fair, vendors must be based in one of 18 Eastern Kentucky counties including: Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Elliott, Floyd, Greenup, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Morgan, Perry, Pike and Wolfe counties.

The festival will also welcome Hillbilly Arm Wrestling to the lineup this year, with open challenges and more competitive events being held Friday at the East Kentucky Expo Center.

The headliners for this year’s Hillbilly Days concert at the East Kentucky Expo Center, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, will be Travis Tritt and The Marshall Tucker Band.

For more details on events, as well as a vendor map and other information, pick up the Hillbilly Days 2019 magazine.

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