The coronavirus will not stop Fancy Farm 2020 from happening, organizers of the annual political picnic in Western Kentucky said Thursday.
But the 140th edition of the colorful and lively political event at St. Jerome Catholic Church in the tiny Graves County community will look different this year because of the pandemic.
Namely, the array of elected officials and candidates for statewide office will give their political speeches on Aug. 1 while inside the Fancy Farm Elementary School gymnasium, not outside in the traditional pavilion that has been the scene of many memorable one-liners over the years.
KET will broadcast the speeches live, so that Kentuckians unable to make the pilgrimage out to Fancy Farm this year can still tune in at home, organizers said.
The picnic’s organizers also said that fewer booths, reduced hours, face masks for volunteer workers and dedicated people who will sanitize things throughout the day are all part of the plan for this year’s Fancy Farm amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Otherwise, the barbecue will still be a draw.
“Thousands of pounds of slow cooked mutton and pork will be available to purchase by the pound starting at 8:00 a.m.,” St. Jerome Catholic Church said Thursday in a news release. “This will be available throughout the day on the picnic grounds.”
To ensure that local, state and CDC guidelines for large gatherings are followed, organizers said only those with a ticket will be allowed to enter the gym and hear the speeches in person on Aug. 1.
Political leaders and legislators will receive invitations from Fancy Farm organizers.
In the past, the annual picnic has caused Fancy Farm, a town of about 500, to become a bustling area of roughly 10,000 for the day.
That’s in no small part due to the spectacle welcoming not only a handful of Kentucky politicos and office-seekers but also throngs of supporters and critics who do not hold back in cheering or jeering during the speeches.
This year’s Fancy Farm will also feature free tours of the St. Jerome School Museum as well a raffle for a new Polaris Ranger along with three $500 cash prizes.
“We realize how important the picnic is to so many in the community, and we are pleased to work with local and state officials to see that it happens in a safe and responsible manner,” the St. Jerome Catholic Church release said. “More information will be made available as the 140th St. Jerome Fancy Farm Picnic nears.”
Last year’s version may be hard to top in terms of political rivals taking turns jabbing one another, as then-Gov. Matt Bevin did with then-Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, who eventually beat Bevin in the November election.
The most high-profile battle at this point in 2020 is the U.S. Senate race between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and whichever Democrat wins the June 23 primary.
Reach Billy Kobin at [email protected] or 502-582-7030. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.
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