Fancy Farm speaker list growing

Published 3:56 pm Friday, July 22, 2022


The speakers list continues to grow for Fancy Farm, the annual event in the small Graves County community, which is traditionally Kentucky’s premier political event, drawing people from across the state.

The latest group to confirm their attendance for the 142nd annual St. Jerome’s Church Picnic includes two more major Republicans who have announced they will seek their party’s nomination in the 2023 gubernatorial race, Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Rep Savannah Maddox of Dry Ridge. They will join Auditor Mike Harmon and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, two other GOP hopefuls in the governor’s race, who have already said they will appear.

The Fancy Farm Picnic is widely regarded as Kentucky’s biggest political event. Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today

Email newsletter signup

Secretary of State Michael Adams, who can seek another term and who has said he is also considering the Attorney General’s office, and Treasurer Allison Ball, who is term limited, have also agreed to speak.

There is no word yet on whether Kentucky’s two Democratic Constitutional officers will attend, Gov. Andy Beshear, who is seeking a second term, and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman.

Steven Elder, the political chairman of the event, says the attendance of both U.S. Senators, Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, will be pending until the August Congressional recess. Both had to miss the picnic last year because of the infrastructure bill negotiations that carried over into that weekend, keeping them in Washington.

While Paul, who is seeking re-election this fall is still pending, his Democratic opponent, Charles Booker of Louisville, a former state representative, has confirmed he will attend.

Also agreeing to speak are three elected officials who represent the Fancy Farm area:  1st District Congressman James Comer, and those who are serving in the General Assembly, Sen. Jason Howell and Rep. Richard Heath, all of whom are Republicans.   

The Fancy Farm Picnic is the major fundraiser each year for St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, swelling the community’s normal population of just over 400, to more than 10 times that amount, for a day of barbeque prepared by church members as well as the political stump speaking.

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

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