How It All Began
Hillbilly Days was first founded in 1977 by a group of Shriners as a means to raise money for the Shriners Hospital. Two shriners from the Hillbilly Clan Outhouse No. 2, Howard "Dirty Ear" Stratton and "Shady" Grady Kinney, decided to start the festival in 1976 after visiting a festival in Portsmouth, Ohio. They got a group of shriners together and they began the festival in 1977. It has continued ever since. Over 100,000 people come once a year experience the event and culture of Appalachia. Participants wear overalls and other rural attire while roaming the streets of Pikeville to help raise money for a cause. The planning committee for this festival usually starts meeting around September and then work on their plans each workday up until the festival begins in mid-April.