Pickin' for the Kids kicks off this weekend

If bluegrass and gospel are your cup of tea, then the festivities at the Laurel-London Optimist Club is serving just the right concoction.

The 12th annual "Pickin' for the Kids" kicks off today and continues through Saturday evening at the club on Sinking Creek Road off West KY 80. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Optimist Club's annual "Christmas for the Kids" which sponsors needy families in the area with holiday gifts, food and a party. Last year, however, such festivities were not possible, but Optimist Club members continued the tradition by having families pick up their gifts at their facility. Last year, 90 children were served through this effort - an increased number from past years.

Robert Prince, who oversees the annual Pickin' for the Kids, said this weekend's event will feature several new bands to the event.

Prayzing Hymn, Grafted In, Sunrise Ridge, Mountain View and White Oak Band will all make their debut performances over the two-day event.

"Prayzin Hymn is Dwayne Hess' band who performs gospel, we have Grafted In - a group from Hazel Patch Church, and Mountain View, a group from Nancy, Kentucky, are all new bands to our event," Prince said. "They all perform on Friday night. Sunrise Ridge is a group from Whitesburg, and the White Oak Band that is Hannah and Jordan Wilkerson and some others, and they perform on Saturday."

Other groups returning include the Letterbox Boys, Straight Creek, Laurel River Line and bluegrass musician, Dean Osborne.

Tickets for Friday's lineup are $5 per person, with children 12 and under admitted free.

Grafted In kicks off the musical entertainment at 6 p.m., followed by The Gabbards at 6:45. Laurel Mountain Boys perform at 7:30 p.m. with Mountain View taking the stage at 8:15 and Prayzin Hymn closing out the show with a 9 p.m. performance.

Saturday's lineup begins at 11 a.m. with the Letterbox Boys, followed by the comedy and music of The Moron Brothers at 11:45 a.m. The afternoon entertainment kicks off with Straight Creek at 1 p.m., with Sunrise Ridge performing at 2 p.m. Laurel River Line performs at 2:55, followed by Dean Osborne at 3:45 and Prayzin Hymn at 4:35.

The Moron Brothers perform a second show at 5:25 p.m., followed by Sunrise Ridge at 6:15 and White Oak Band at 7:05. Laurel River Line and Dean Osborne wind down this year's event with Laurel River Line performing their final set of the show at 7:55 p.m. and Osborne taking the stage at 8:55 p. m.

Tickets for Saturday's show are $15 per person, with children under 12 years old admitted free.

Prince added that the music festival is held indoors in an air-conditioned facility, so the weather will not be a factor. Some groups performing will have CDs and other merchandise available for sale. Concessions will also be available during the weekend.

"On Friday we're having a fish dinner, along with hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries," he said. "On Saturday we're having chicken-and-dumplings, along with hamburger and hot dogs."

Prince re-emphasized that all proceeds from the bluegrass/gospel event goes to benefit children in the community, whose names are referred to them by the Family Resource and Youth Service Center staff.

"I hope everyone will come out and enjoy the music and the food. The proceeds - 100% - go to the Christmas program," he said. "We served 90 children last year, and hope to do that again."

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