The Appalachian Big Ideas Festival

Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky

Thursday, September 29th
6:00pm - 12:30am
Friday, September 30th
1:30pm - 1:30am
Saturday, October 1st
1:30pm - 12:00am

The Appalachian Big Ideas Festival is a three-day experience of insightful storytelling, arts and culture, and community building in Hazard, KY.

Join us in one of the most exciting cities in Appalachian Kentucky to hear from national and local thought leaders, see artists create in real time, and enjoy some of the best cuisine Appalachia has to offer!

Appalachian Kentucky is a hotbed for creativity, artists, inspiration, and innovative ideas. During the Festival, we will be exploring the future of affordable housing, entrepreneurship, resilient design, disaster preparedness, community safety, local food and sustainable agriculture, arts and culture, racial equity, local leadership development, and the BIG IDEAS moving our region forward!




  • 9:30a.m. – 6:00p.m.
  • Community Conversations taking place across Downtown Hazard
  • Appalachian Writers Roundtable featuring Neema Avashia, Ashley Blooms, Crystal Good, Carter Sickels and Robert Gipe at the ArtStation (655 Main Street)
  • Live public mural making!
  • Music!
  • Community conversations on topics including: Community safety, recovery, housing, sustainable design, racial equity, place based philanthropy, local agriculture, entrepreneurship, impact investing, leadership development, and creative placemaking.
  • 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Keynote Performance by Reginald Dwayne Betts at The Forum (101 Bulldog Ln).
  • 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Pig Picking Supper presented by Chef Kristin Smith and the Wrigley Taproom with Live Music and Square Dancing presented by the Hindman Settlement School at the ArtStation (655 Main Street)**
  • 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Community concert featuring Nicholas Jamerson and the Morning Jays at the Bill and Betty Morton Amphitheater next to City Hall (700 Main Street)


  •  9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 
  • Farmers Market
  • Special Sessions including conversations on community safety and LGBTQ+ inclusivity
  • Film Screening
  • Live music
  • Picnic Lunch with Local and Guest Chefs**
  • Kids activities
  • Live public mural making
  • 1:00 – 2:00p.m. Closing strategy circle for community leaders and funders*
  • 2:00- 3:00p.m. Closing Keynote by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón & Kentucky State Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson at the Bill and Betty Morton Amphitheater next to City Hall (700 Main Street)
  • 6:00 p.m. Evening Concert with Ben Fugate at the Bill and Betty Morton Amphitheater next to City Hall (700 Main Street)