The Cumberland Gap Fall Festival

by Emily Jarvis
The Cumberland Gap's fall foliage sets an idyllic atmosphere for a festival.

The Cumberland Gap's fall foliage sets an idyllic atmosphere for a festival.

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The Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival is held the first weekend of October in Middlesboro, Ky. Each year, residents and visitors gather near the scenic Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains to enjoy crafts, antiques and entertainment amidst the autumn foliage. The fall festival has been written about in "Southern Living" magazine, and the charming mountain fete draws travelers from far and wide.

Festival History

For nearly 30 years, Middlesboro, Ky., has celebrated the arrival of autumn with its annual Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival. The festival has been held on the campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in recent years, but downtown Middlesboro is the festival's former location. The Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival Committee schedules the events each year, and corporate and local sponsors contribute to the festival. The Cumberland Gap is a pass through the Cumberland Mountain region of the Appalachian Mountains. The gap is at the juncture of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. It is known locally as "The Gateway to the West," a nickname that harks back to when Kentucky was the western frontier. Its place in the mountains gives the Cumberland Gap beautiful fall foliage and mild temperatures, making it an idyllic setting for a fall festival.

Crafts and Concessions

Local vendors and craftsmen set up shop at the festival to display their wares. Handmade candles, ornaments, jewelry and wooden and knit items are popular merchandise. Children can enjoy face painting and games at other stations. Traditional fair food like Polish sausage, funnel cakes, barbecue and fried Twinkies appear in the concession stands, as well as locally made cakes and pies. Nearby restaurants provide festival-goers with selections from their menus.


Musical groups grace the stage from the festival's beginning to end. Local talent, tribute bands and up-and-comers headline throughout the festival. Local dance and talent troupes also perform. The Miss Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival pageant draws local beauties, with awards and crowns going to girls ages 1 through 19 divided into different age groups. Admission to the festival and concerts is free.

Lodging and Visitors' Information

Visitors to the festival should consider a quaint, country weekend at The Cumberland Manor Bed & Breakfast. The turn-of-the-century Victorian home comprises just four suites, so book well in advance. This cozy setting filled with antiques sits atop the Cumberland Mountains, offering guests an unparalleled view. Pine Mountain State Park in neighboring Pineville, Ky., has a number of lodges and cottages for visitors who wish to experience the natural landscape of the Cumberland region. Visitors to Middlesboro can also make reservations at the Holiday Inn Express, Sleep Inn, Park View Motel or Downtown Inn & Suites.

About the Author

Emily Jarvis is a graduate of University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism. Her articles have appeared in "Southern Distinction Magazine" and "The Red & Black." Jarvis holds a Bachelor of Arts in magazine journalism and a Master of Arts in journalism.

Photo Credits

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