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CU’s Jessica Blakeman loves her experience at Mountain Laurel Festival

June 4, 2015
For Immediate Release


Jessica Blakeman, Campbellsville University's Valentine Queen, rides in the parade as she  competes for the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen in Pineville, Ky.
Jessica Blakeman, Campbellsville University’s Valentine Queen, rides in the parade as she
competes for the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival Queen in Pineville, Ky.

By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Campbellsville University student Jessica Blakeman of Campbellsville wouldn’t trade her experiences at the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival for anything.

Blakeman, who represented Campbellsville University as the university’s Valentine Queen winner, said, “The Mountain Laurel Festival was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Being a Queen candidate was so surreal. I had no clue what an honor it was to be a Queen in this festival!”

Blakeman had never visited Pineville, Ky., where the 85th festival was held making it one of Kentucky’s oldest festivals, and said everyone welcomed the 18 queen candidates to the “beautiful little town of Pineville with incredible hospitality.”

Blakeman said the women were treated like royalty with police escorts, applause, handshakes and hugs everywhere they went.

“I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to represent Campbellsville University as well as my lovely hometown of Campbellsville,” she said.

She was at the festival May 21-24, and the candidates made appearances at many events including having an orientation, meeting their host families and attending a picnic on the first night, May 21.

The agenda for May 22 was practice for the Grand March as well as practice for the coronation, dinner and attending the Princess Coronation. On Saturday, May 23, they attended a breakfast in the town under a tent, following by riding in a parade. Later that afternoon was the Queen’s Coronation at an outdoor amphitheater, the Grand March and the Queen’s Ball. They attended a breakfast Sunday morning on May 24 before returning home.

Blakeman said the most exciting time for her was the parade. She rode on the back of a “beautiful black Mustang” and was dressed in Derby attire as the representative for Campbellsville.

“It was so much fun waving to everyone and receiving applause as I passed by,” she said. “I definitely felt like a queen.”

 Jessica Blakeman curtsies during the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival.
Jessica Blakeman curtsies during the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival.

The Mountain Laurel Festival features the candidates wearing white gowns as part of their tradition, and Blakeman said hers was a “beautiful, huge white ball gown” that she wore for the Queen’s Coronation. She also wore a polo shirt for orientation to represent Campbellsville University and a pink Derby suit and hat for the parade.

The 2015 queen was Lindsay Tate Ratliff of Western Kentucky University. Kentucky Gov. Steve Breshear crowned her.

Blakeman, a senior, was escorted by Logan Curtis, a freshman at CU from Lexington, Ky. Her parents are Faron and Teri Blakeman of Campbellsville.

“I loved every single part of the festival,” Blakeman said. “I really enjoyed striking up a conversation with anyone and everyone I encountered.

“I loved being put in the position to be social with strangers. It gave me a chance to get to know incredible individuals that I may have never had the chance to otherwise.”

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is