Well here it is folks, the 4th annual Hillbilly Days Food Guide!
This was our 5th year attending the Hillbilly Days festival, our first with 2 kids and our last as Pikeville residents. The pressure was on to make it a good one and we did but with 2 littles in tow, we had to adjust our pace down accordingly. That being said, I think we Hillbillied pretty hard. Here’s the complete rundown of what we ate and how it tasted!
A word of warning – eating this hard at Hillbilly Days is not for the faint of heart, the high of cholesterol or the light of wallet! We may or may not have had to make more than one trip to the ATM this festival.
Day One: Thursday
Andy and Catherine made a lunch run, to get the lay of the land. Catherine’s lunch request? Donuts. Our first stop was the Mini-Donuts, with cinnamon sugar topping. Big thumbs up from Catherine (and her dad). When these little puppies come out, fresh from the fryer, there is a delicious crisp crust on them, covering up the sweet tender innards. Catherine still found them to be delicious cold the next morning!
Find it: Near the intersection of Hambley and Huffman, near Roasted.
Andy decided to start off with a classic: a gyro from his favorite Greek vendor. This guy has been coming for decades and Andy patronizes him each year. (See Andy with his gyro 3 years ago in the picture below.)
Find it: Gyros on Huffman, next to the Methodist church parking lot.
For dinner, we made our way down to the Expo end of Huffman to visit a newcomer who caught our eye: Hoop’s Fun Foods. Andy’s eye was magnetically attracted to a sign proclaiming “The Whole Hog” – a sandwich with smoked sausage, pulled, pork, and chopped bacon. We also partook in a plain BBQ sandwich and garlic parmesan fries. All was good, we definitely think this vendor is worth a trip to the outer fringe.
Find it: Expo end of Huffman in front of Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
Catherine requested mac and cheese for dinner. Not a super popular item at Hillbilly Days, but Catherine ate it for almost every meal during the festival. If your toddler is like ours, this vendor is a must!
Find it: At the Expo end of Huffman on a little bit before and opposite the “Whole Hog”
After dinner, of course, we needed a snack. A little something to satisfy the ol’ sweet tooth. We saw a familiar cinnamon roll truck on Main Street, in between the old courthouse and the Expo. To our suprise, it is under new management! Similar menu, new folks. We tried a cinnamon roll, an apple dumpling, and blackberry cobbler. (We had four adults! It seemed necessary! ;)) The apple dumpling was the best of the three (get it with ice cream). The cinnamon roll needed icing. A nice heavy coat of cream cheese icing.
Find it: Main Street, in between the old courthouse and the Expo.
The kids enjoyed a Heavenly Donuts cinnamon roll from the Pikeville Basketball truck next door.
Find it: On Main Street, in between the Expo and the old courthouse.
After a little more walking, Sarah felt peckish for a fried apple pie from Fannie’s, a new vendor this year. The pies are handmade and they fried it fresh for her. Her verdict? “That was pretty good. I could go for another one.”
Find it: On Hambley Blvd. in front of Myers Towers.
Day Two: Friday
We started the morning off with the Dueling Donuts Challenge: Food City vs Heavenly Donuts vs Mini Donuts vs Auntie Ruth’s. Sound awesome? It was. I hope you caught it on Facebook Live!
If not, here’s the lowdown: Auntie Ruth came in first, followed by Mini Donuts, then Heavenly Donuts. Food City anchored us at fourth place. It seems like Auntie Ruth is the most popular booth at the whole festival. We got in line around 8:30, but didn’t get out until 9:30 (a big part of that was them getting all of their equipment up and running, not just the line length). Mini Donuts, being a very close second, might be your better option given the considerably shorter line. Heavenly Donuts, a local store, is a solid donut – but they aren’t coming out hot which hurt them in the standings. Definitely, pay a visit to their storefront to choose from the full selection of donuts!
For lunch, we visited another newcomer Belle’s Smokin BBQ, for some good BBQ brisket. It was great, but I admit that I am a little hesitant to recommend them. Last time we proclaimed “Best Barbecue of Hillbilly Days”, the vendor never came back. Okay, we’ll say it: It was awesome! We also sampled the Cheesy Mac and Chicken – a little spicier than we expected but still very good and points for creativity. Andy washed his lunch down with a refillable mug from Soda City – the Root Beer was pretty good, and free refills until the end of Hillbilly Days!
Find It: Under the pedway on Hambley Ave.
Andy decided to get an afternoon snack while waiting for the Timber Show to start. A strawberry shortcake donut from the Fruit Cup Truck, another Hillbilly Days first-timer, was a cool treat. Definitely, give this truck a visit; Andy plans to visit again on Saturday.
Find It: On Huffman across from the Appalachian News-Express
The evening dinner run included a trip to another classic: Sirloin Tips, on Huffman, across from Big Sandy Community College. The namesake food was delicious as always (in our opinion, the best steak tips in town). Sarah chose to get a slice of pepperoni pizza from the truck on Hambley near Roasted. The meal run concluded with a stop at We R Nuts, on Huffman next to the parking deck. Candied cashews and pecans make a great snack. Be sure to grab some free samples!
Day Three: Saturday
We were debating whether or not to take the kids back down to the festival for the third day in a row, thinking it just might be too much for them but when lunchtime came along Catherine asked to go back so she could “See the Hillbillies and eat Hillbilly food!” and how could we deny our cute little Hillbilly one last trip?
So we made a quick trip down for lunch and decided we needed to try a couple more things before wrapping on this year’s festival. Andy ate a pork BBQ sandwich from Biggins’ BBQ (find them in the offseason at their storefront in Robinson Creek), Sarah had some bourbon chicken, and Catherine got her fix of macaroni & cheese.
On our walk back home we made sure to make one last stop at our favorite sweets from this year’s festival taking a Fannie’s fried apple pie, some Auntie Ruth’s pretzels, and Got Donuts mini-donuts for the road.
Look up all these great vendors on the Billy Finder app, from Bitsource!