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Old King Coal Festival Returns For More Family Fun



By Brooke Schlyer

May 13, 2022 - A long-standing tradition continues with the return of the Old King Coal Festival. 

This year, Larry Morris is taking over as President of the festival committee after Steve Sawalich held the position for 20 years. 


"We must never forget the sacrifices made the southern Illinois coal miners," Morris said. "They helped to make southern Illinois what it is today. "

Morris worked in the mines himself and says he put a lot of hard work navigating the new title, and had the help of the committee and other volunteers.


They put together four nights of family fun including free LIVE concerts: 


Thursday, May 12: 

5 p.m. midway opens 

Family night all rides are one ticket 

7 p.m. Hollerboys

Friday, May 13: 

5 p.m. midway opens 

6:30 p.m Hoot n Holler 

9:00 p.m. Johnathan Len

Saturday, May 14: 

10 a.m. Coal Miners Memorial Service at Coal Miners Memorial Park or City hall in case of rain 

1 p.m. Old King Coal parade 

1 p.m. midway opens 

6:30 p.m. The Brat Pack 

9:00 p.m. Rockin' Terry Lee 

Sunday, May 15: 

1 p.m. midway opens 

All rides one ticket 


This year, Denzile Stubblefield is named as Old King Coal. He served in the Navy from 1960-1964 and then started working in the mines in 1967. 

Over his 29-year career, he held various positions including underground repairman, mobile equipment surface operator and plant repairman. 

A highlight for him came in 1980 giving President Jimmy Carter a tour of the mine before giving remarks to a crowd. 

"Then he went on top and made a big speech up there," Stubblefield recalls. "Had everything set up for him. It was quiet an experience you know." 

Stubblefield says it's an honor to hold the title and represent the coal miners who came before him like his father. He died in the Orient #2 explosion in 1951 when Stubblefield was just a child. 


Also proud to hold a festival distinction is Princess Flame, this year it's Yolina Lindquist. 

She's from Metropolis and now attends Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Although its her first year in college, she's already a sophomore credit wise. 

Lindquist is pursuing a degree in Foreign Language and International Trade with a focus in German. 

Her dad worked as a coal miner and eventually became a coal mine engineer. 

Lindquist says she's proud to have earned the crown and sash. 

"I think it's a great opportunity to represent southern Illinois and West Frankfort and all the coal miners in our area, especially coming from a background of coal mining," she adds. "I love being able to represent and be a proud supporter of this organization." 


For more on the festival, click here