Each year, young ladies from across the Commonwealth proudly represent their college or university as candidates for 2011 KMLF Queen. This year, 20 beautiful women graced the stage of the Laurel Cove Amphitheater carrying with them dreams becoming the next queen. The coronation ceremony, emceed this year by former Kentucky Governor Paul Patton, is the culmination of the weekend long activities that end with the selection of one special candidate to serve a year-long reign as queen.
As the ceremony began, 2010 winner Rachael Geniece Hunt took her last walk as reigning queen. Then, one by one, the 2011 KMLF queen candidates descended into the cove to greet Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and the crowd with their traditional curtsy. Each candidate epitomized beauty and grace throughout the pageant, but in the end only one could be named queen — and that was Jefra Kaysi Bland.
Representing the Univesity of Kentucky, Bland won the judges votes and was named the 2011 Queen. As tradition holds, Governor Beshear had the honor of crowning and kissing the new queen.
Bland, led by her court, made her way to the stage as the applauding guests offered their congratulations to the new queen. She responded to each with gratitude and grace.
The Queen’s court, a tradition of the 81-year-old ceremony, is made up of young ladies representing area elementary and high schools, along with the remaining queen candidates. The court also paraded through the crowd participating in the long-standing pageant.
After the ceremony, candidates mingled with guests and posed for photographs with members of the audience. Later that evening, Queen Bland was honored at the Grand Ball, and was recognized again the next morning at the Queen’s Breakfast, the final event of the festival.
A new tradition was initiated by the 2011 KMLF Committee, an award honoring festival directors. Presented at the Queen’s Breakfast, the recipient of the new award was Jim Roan. It was presented to him (pictured below) for 75 years of service to the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival.