Kentucky political tradition Fancy Farm is just a month away and kicks off the fall political season

By Tom Lateck
kentucky today

FANCY FARM, Ky. — With the event just a month away on Aug. 6, contestants are confirming their attendance at the 142nd St. Jerome’s Picnic in the small western Kentucky community of Fancy Farm, traditionally the start of Kentucky’s fall political season.

Steven Elder, the event’s political chairman, said the attendance of the two US senators, Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, will be on hold until the August break. The two senators missed the picnic last year due to infrastructure bill negotiations that continued over the weekend, keeping them in Washington.

Fancy Farm is also good food. (KyToday File Photo/by Tom Latek)

While Paul, who is seeking re-election this fall, is on hold, his Democratic opponent, Charles Booker of Louisville, has confirmed his attendance.

Among the Kentucky constitutional officers who have confirmed they will speak are Auditor Mike Harmon and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, both of whom have term limits in their current roles and are seeking nomination by the GOP for governor in 2023.

Neither Governor Andy Beshear nor Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman announced their plans for Fancy Farm, nor did Attorney General Daniel Cameron, another announced Republican candidate for governor.

Two other Republicans signed up for the event. Secretary of State Michael Adams, who is up for re-election but said he is also considering running for attorney general since Cameron is running for governor, and State Treasurer Allison Ball, whose future political projects are not known at this stage.

Three GOP elected officials whose districts include Graves County, where Fancy Farm is located, have said they will attend: First District Congressman James Comer, State Senator Jason Howell and State Rep. Richard Heath.

Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, will be this year’s emcee, with organizers alternating between Democrats and Republicans in the role each year.

The Fancy Farm Picnic is the main fundraiser each year for St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, increasing the community’s normal population from just over 400 people, to more than ten times that amount, for a day’s barbecue. and political speeches.

Although the picnic began in 1880, it did not become Kentucky’s top political event until 1931, when A. B. “Happy” Chandler made an appearance campaigning for lieutenant governor. Since then, it has served during election years as the traditional kickoff to the fall election campaign.

This will be the first Fancy Farm Picnic to be at full power since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s going to be a great year for the picnic, with people expected to be out in force,” Elder told Kentucky Today. “I think the crowds will be big this year because of the race for the U.S. Senate and the opportunity for the Governor to share his message for the tornado relief efforts in our county.”

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Edward L. Robinett