The Poke Sallet Festival was conceived by Drew Smith and friends at a dinner featuring poke sallet in the spring of 1955. The first festival was held the following year at Cranks Creek Lake.
Since its beginning, the festival has been held in several locations including Pine Mt. Settlement School, Harlan County Courthouse, and now in downtown Harlan at the Harlan Center. In earlier years, visits by prominent state politicians were main attractions of the festival.
Recently, the festival has grown and now focuses more on entertainment and showcasing local artisans and crafters.