Like so many other things, the annual King Coal Festival once again took place last weekend following its COVID-forced cancellation in 2020.

“This weekend was exciting and uplifting,” said Jada Hunter, who serves as the president of the AIM (Action in Mingo) Group which produces the festival each year. “People kept telling me they were glad to see the King Coal Festival happen again after it was canceled last year. So many said they remembered their parents bringing them to the festival when they were children. Now, they are bringing their own children. Tradition is a wonderful and tradition is what the King Coal Festival is about.”

In addition to the standard offerings, the King Coal Festival had several new events this year, Hunter said. Included among them were a horseshoe pitching contest, apple butter stirring and two cornhole contests.

One of the highlights of the festival each year, Hunter said, is the crowning of Mr. King Coal. This year’s winner was Michael Johnson of Matewan.

Along with Mr. King Coal, two other awards are presented each year — the community service and humanitarian awards. Hunter said this year, AIM’s leadership decided the community service award should go to numerous people and gave the award to the volunteer fire departments in Mingo and Pike counties. The humanitarian award was presented to Amy Hannah.

Hunter said there were about 25 vendors during this year’s King Coal Festival. This number is down from previous years; however, she said the vendors all did well and were happy with this edition of the festival.

“We also had a nice, long parade with lots of things to see and lots of people,” Hunter said. “I loved seeing the packed like that on the streets watching the parade.”

The parade was led by the Belfry, Kentucky, High School JROTC.

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