Times have changed! Here’s how we began a story about Harlan’s Poke Sallet Festival a decade ago: “Think you make the best poke sallet in Harlan County? Want to pit yourself against Kentucky’s finest poke sallet cooks? Want to know what poke sallet is? Then attend the Poke Sallet Festival in Harlan, Kentucky this week. . . . Poke sallet meals will be available at Jac’s Coffee Shop, Mary’s Country Store, and the Coal Miners Cafe.” Those days (and those three restaurants) are long one. We see no mention of the poke sallet cooking contest on the festival website either. Today, poke sallet serves as more of a regional mascot than an edible at the festival, which focuses on fun and games and entertainment.
What happens at today’s Poke Sallet Festival? Plenty! There’s a carnival, food vendors, bungee jumping, games, micro-NASCAR, POKE Idol, crafts, a car show, a pet show… and plenty of non-stop live entertainment, ending with a John Michael Montgomery concert on Saturday night. There’ll also be, for all you traditionalists (that includes us!), a gospel stage and a bluegrass stage. Will there be any actual poke sallet to try? We see no mention of the stuff (which experts claim is of questionable edibility) on the festival website but you never know. For more info, see the Poke Sallet Festival website.