Denzil Stubblefield named Old King Coal for 2022

The Southern Illinois Old King Coal Festival is proud to announce Denzil Ray Stubblefield of West Frankfort has been selected as 2022 Old King Coal. Stubblefield will reign over the festival May 12th thru May 15th in downtown West Frankfort.

Stubblefield, a 27-year veteran of the coal mines, will be crowned along with 2022 Princess Flame at the Princess Flame Scholarship pageant, Saturday, April 9 at 3PM at the Benton Civic Center. Tickets for the Princess Flame pageant are available on the Benton Civic Center website or at the door.

Stubblefield is a veteran of the United States Navy serving from 1960 to 1964. His coal mining career began in 1967 as a laborer at Freeman United Coal Mine #5 in West Frankfort. Over his 27-year career in the mines he held many positions such as roof bolter, continuous mine operator and repairman. He attended Freeman Repair School where he learned hydraulics, electrical repair, cutting and welding to become a repairman. He also worked as a mobile equipment surface operator at Old Ben Zeigler Mine 25 from 1981 to 1992. He retired in 1994.

Larry Morris (left) congratuates Denzil Stubblefield on being named 2022 Old King Coal.

During his career Denzil was often recognized by management for his extra effort and quality of work. One former manager of maintenance at Old Ben #25 stated that his workmanship was as good as he had seen in the industry. On days there were no was no supervisor on top, he would work and take complete responsibility for the surface. It was common to find Stubblefield performing regular maintenance on equipment without being asked. The same manage stated “Many times, we take men like Denzil for granted. He is never in the office, never creates problems, shows up for work and does his job to the best of his ability.”

When Denzil was 9 years old, his father was killed in the Orient 2 mine explosion in West Frankfort on December 21, 1951. In the letter nominating Stubblefield submitted by his daughter Tracey Stubblefield, she said of her father, “My dad being a young boy went to work to help support his mother and brothers. The fact that he was the youngest didn’t’ matter to him. He saw a need and stepped up to provide for his family”. Denzil’s wife of 49 years, Gloria, passed away in 2010. He also has a son Ricky, 3 grandchildren, 1 great grandson and 2 great granddaughers. Another daughter Amy passed away in 2009.

The Old King Coal Festival officially kicks off in downtown West Frankfort at 5 PM Thursday, May 12 with family night on the Midway. All rides take 1 ticket. The Hollerboys will take the main stage from 7 to 10:30. On the main stage Friday evening will be Hoot and Holler Band at 6:30 and Johnathan Len at 9. The Coal miners Memorial Service will be held at 10am at Coal Miners Memorial Park Saturday morning, midway opens at 1pm with the Grand Parade beginning at 1pm also. Saturday night Brat Pack takes the stage at 6:30 with Rockin’ Terry Lee following at 9:30. The festival continues Sunday with the midway opening at 1pm. All main stage concerts are free. Bring your lawnchair for all the fun.

Come enjoy the rides, food, games, parade and free entertainment at the Southern Illinois Old King Coal Festival, May 12th thru the 15th in downtown West Frankfort. For more information like us on Facebook and visit

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