Fri, May 25, 2018 12:38 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-06-13 communities
Blair named Laurel Fest Queen

MOREHEAD STATE UNIVERSITY'S Jamie Nichole Blair, seated, captured the title of 2003 Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen during the 73rd annual event in Pineville. Blair, an Oil Springs senior, is the daughter of James R. and Nancy Blair. Gov. Paul Patton was on hand at the festival to crown Blair. MSU photo (click for larger version)
MOREHEAD Morehead State University's Jamie Nichole Blair, an Oil Springs senior, was crowned the 2003 Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen during the 73rd annual event held in Pineville.

The Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival, the oldest known festival of its kind in the United States, draws thousands of visitors from around the state and nation to celebrate the blooming of the Mountain Laurel in Southeastern Kentucky.

"I was shocked," Blair said of winning the title. "It's a very big honor, not only to represent Morehead State, but also to win the pageant. It was a wonderful experience and the people treated me great."

Blair, the daughter of James R. and Nancy Blair, represented MSU in the pageant after being named the 2002 MSU Homecoming Queen.

The festival began as an event to honor Dr. Thomas Walker, pioneer explorer and surveyor. In 1931, then-Gov. Flem D. Sampson suggested that each college in Kentucky have a contest and select a girl to be its representative in the festival to vie for Mountain Laurel Queen.

The festival has been an annual event since its inception, except for the World War II years, 1942-1947.

"The young ladies that we see here today represent thousands of other young Kentuckians, male and female, who aspire to greatness, who understand that greatness can only come through education and hard work and that beauty is much more than skin deep," Gov. Paul Patton said.

Blair, a radiological sciences major, joined Sharon Lu Goldsberry (1975) and Kelly Michele Holdren (1982) as MSU winners of the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Pageant.

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