Mary Breckinridge ARH Hospital to Host Community Picnic on October 4
Fall is here and it’s time once again for the annual Mary Breckinridge Festival and the Mary Breckinridge ARH Community Picnic.
“The Mary Breckinridge Festival is a celebration of our heritage,” said Mallie Noble, Mary Breckinridge ARH Community CEO. “We are proud of what our founder accomplished and all that we have built over the last several decades.”
The Mary Breckinridge Festival was started in 1962, and people from Leslie County and surrounding counties join in the festivities each year.
“To show our appreciation for the community’s support, every year we host a picnic in the hospital parking lot,” shared Noble. “We feed around 1,000 people and provide free health screenings and education. It’s an exciting time for us.”
The menu this year will include hot dogs with chili, hamburgers, pulled pork, baked beans, french fries and cookies, and will be prepared by the Leslie County Quarterback Club. There will be a live remote with DJ Michael Dewayne at 97.9 FM. He will play music requests and update the community on what’s happening at the picnic.
“We are anticipating around 263 seventh and eighth grade students from Leslie County Elementary Schools at the picnic,” said Noble. “Each student will receive a gift bag containing juice, nutritious snacks and a miniature Mary Breckinridge ARH football.”
According to Noble, free point-of-care health screenings and stroke assessments will be offered during the picnic along with health education.
“The community picnic offers more than just great food and fellowship,” added Noble. “We also focus on the health of the community and offer vital health screenings and education.”
The hospital’s community picnic is a much anticipated part of the Mary Breckinridge Festival. The picnic will be held in the hospital parking lot from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, October 4.
For 51 years the annual Mary Breckinridge Festival has been bringing the community together to celebrate the legacy of Mary Breckinridge.
Mary Breckinridge ARH Auxiliary President Miss Jean (Jean Campbell) has been supporting the hospital and community since the festival began.
“I have been going to the Mary Breckinridge Festival since Paul Cook organized the first festival back in 1962, and that’s a long time,” said Campbell. “I was fortunate to meet Mary Breckinridge and my father William Roy Sizemore was on her board until he passed in 1980.”
Campbell has lived next door to the Mary Breckinridge Hospital since it opened in 1975.
“My fondest memory of Mary Breckinridge was when she spoke to the Class of 1947 during my high school graduation,” shared Campbell. “She stood there in her blue and white striped seersucker dress—because that’s what the nurses wore at that time, and she was mesmerizing. I couldn’t take my eyes off her and I listened to every word she said. She believed in the mountain people and encouraged us to strive to be all we could be and make the right choices for our lives.”
Her speech that night and the example she set inspired Campbell to go into teaching.
“Mary Breckinridge was a grand lady yet she didn’t put on airs, she was just like us,” added Campbell. “She believed we were intelligent and could achieve what we set out to do, and her words of encouragement made me believe that I could be a teacher.
Campbell did become a teacher and after she retired, she began volunteering for the Mary Breckinridge Hospital. She worked alongside Auxiliary President Betty Lester who asked her to become the next Auxiliary president when she retired. Campbell said yes and has stayed in her role as president for the past 30 years. Campbell is 84 years old.
“I enjoy the people,” shared Campbell. “I work in the hospital gift shop, so I get to know the staff and they are amazing.”
According to Campbell, the hospital has always played an important role in Leslie County. She noted that many lives have been saved because Mary Breckinridge recognized the needs of the people.
Mary Breckinridge left behind an incredible legacy to the people of Eastern Kentucky.
“She gave us so much and there has never been anyone who loved us like Mary Breckinridge,” added Campbell.
The festival has been and continues to be a wonderful way to celebrate and honor Leslie County’s beloved Mary Breckinridge.