COVID-19 has changed the rules for the 140th annual Fancy Farm Picnic held in Graves County, KY on Saturday, August 1 starting at 8 a.m. This year, there will be no political speeches.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement, “Team Mitch will miss being out there this year, but Reverend Venters made the right decision for the health and safety of his parish, Fancy Farm and all Kentuckians.” McConnell had participated in several of the high-charged political speeches in year’s past.
Organizers of the picnic said it will be different without the high-energy of the political rhetoric. According to Mark Wilson, political speaking committee Co-chair, public safety is the driving factor to omit political speeches as part of the event.
The Fancy Farm Picnic has been around a long time. It started as a church picnic, like many others all over the country, but with a special feature... political speaking. Speeches usually began mid-afternoon after the consumption of pork and mutton. The picnic, held the first Saturday of every August, was always an event that has hosted many well-known politicians.
It all began when a group of Roman Catholics settled in Fancy Farm in 1829. In 1836, St. Jerome Catholic Church was built and in 1881, the church started to have annual picnics and fundraisers that were attended by locals and a few politicians.
The speaking became popularized 50 years later when State Senator, A. B. “Happy” Chandler of Versailles decided to run for Lt. Governor of Kentucky. Back in the day, Kentucky held its primaries the first Tuesday in August and the picnic was the last big political event before the primary.
It’s a ‘no holds barred’ type of political event and used to be called ‘stump speaking’ because political candidates would stand on a stump to elevate themselves above the crowd. It was more of a theatrical event than a debate. Lots of showmanship. The speakers that could withstand the heckling and ruckus from the opposing crowd came out ahead of the game. The picnic has a history of humor and jabbing remarks.
The Fancy Farm picnic is a place where 12-15,000 folks come to play bingo and 1,000s of pounds of mutton and pork are devoured.
This year’s event will still feature the pork and the mutton. There will be raffle tickets sold online and person to person. There will be no camping sites rented and no Friday night events.
First prize winner of the raffle will receive a 2020 Polaris Ranger XP 1000. There will be three $500 cash giveaways. COVID has changed so much this year and will continue to do so until a vaccine is discovered. If you wish to learn more about the picnic, go to the FB page St. Jerome Church Fancy Farm Picnic.