Conceived as a way to encourage families to visit the Pikeville-Pike County, KY Welcome Center during the bustling Hillbilly Days of 2024, Holler Critters quickly became a surprise sensation. Produced by the creative minds at Pikeville Pike County Tourism CVB, these trading cards were originally intended as a fundraiser for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Lexington, Kentucky. However, due to the tight timeline to meet the Hillbilly Days deadline, the cards, which were designed in house, were expedited in production, and so were offered at cost.

The concept behind Holler Critters is a delightful spoof of the Pokémon trading card game, with a uniquely Appalachian twist. Featuring creatures inspired by the rich culture and folklore of the region, these cards were designed to elicit laughs and spark joy. From a mischievous raccoon to a big-eyed slice of bologna, each card is a playful homage to the spirit of Appalachia.

What started as a lighthearted gag quickly evolved into something more. Visitors flocked to the Welcome Center, eager to get their hands on packs of Holler Critters cards. Some approached the collection with a sense of humor, while others treated it with the seriousness of seasoned collectors, hunting for coveted foil cards and eagerly anticipating future expansions. Over 4000 cards were sold within a 3 week span, requiring the CVB to place reorders several times.

Mountain Grrl Experience Flyer

While the official game rules for Holler Critters have yet to be established, the overwhelming interest from visitors has sparked plans for further development. With the upcoming Mountain Grrl Experience Festival June 20th through the 22nd, tourism organizers are already gearing up to release a new set of cards featuring Appalachian female artists and advocates for the arts. Additionally, Hatfield and McCoy cards may also be in the works, along with special gold-stamped chase cards, promising even more excitement for collectors.

“With enough development time, we hope to sell these packs of cards at a profit, so that we can raise money for the Hatfields & McCoys Feud Sites upkeep and promotions” says Jay Shepherd, card designer and Pikeville-Pike County Tourism CVB Marketing Director.

Shepherd, who has a history working as a graphic designer in the board game industry in addition to his tourism marketing tenure, is working to build the next series of cards to pay homage to local female artists who support tourism in the Eastern Kentucky region.

Holler Critters currently does not feature a rules set, nor does it feature any background story or lore. However, as this project gains steam, it is not outside of the realm of possibility that this simple marketing ploy could become a full fledged trading card game with all the bells and whistles commonly found in games such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!

Stay tuned for updates on future sets of Holler Critters, and be sure to visit the Pikeville-Pike County, KY Welcome Center & Gift Shop, located on the 3rd floor of the Pikeville Flatiron Building, 685 Hambley Blvd. (accessible from side elevator entrance).

Pikeville-Pike County Tourism CVB is open Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm, and Saturdays 9am-3pm (during tourism season).

Holler Critters, “Gotta Git ’em All!”

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