Thousands descend on Fancy Farm every year for fun, food and political punches
After announcing last week that Fancy Farm 2020 will still go on in Western Kentucky despite the coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the annual picnic now say the political speeches will not happen.
Although it will not feature the political speeches, which many view as the centerpiece of Fancy Farm, the 140th iteration of the event at St. Jerome Catholic Church in the tiny Graves County community is still happening on the weekend of Aug. 1.
The Rev. Darrell Venters of St. Jerome Catholic Church shared the Fancy Farm updates in a Facebook post Wednesday night.
For lovers of the Fancy Farm barbecue, Venters said the event will still feature pork and mutton sold by the pound.
T-shirts will also be for sale, and an online and in-person raffle will still take place during the picnic.
But along with the canceled political speaking, no Friday events will be held, no other booths or stands will be open and no camping sites will be rented, Venters added.
“I know this is a disappointment to some and comes as a relief to others. However, taking into consideration all the factors, I believe it is the best route to take at this time,” Venters wrote in the Facebook post. “If we all promote and get behind the raffle and the sell of meat by the pound, we can and will have a successful picnic financially.”
The church had initially announced June 18 that the lineup of elected officials and candidates for statewide office would give their often-entertaining speeches inside the Fancy Farm Elementary School gymnasium this year.
Additional safety initiatives, such as volunteers wearing face masks and frequent sanitization of areas throughout the picnic, were also announced last week.
The indoor speeches would have represented a change from previous years, when the political hopefuls and long-time officeholders alike made their pitches to a rather lively crowd outside in the pavilion.
But the original plan to hold Fancy Farm speeches indoors this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it some concerns over safety.
Kentucky, after all, had not yet unveiled a date for when gatherings of more that 50 people could resume.
In the past, the annual picnic has caused the population of Fancy Farm, a town of about 500, to balloon to roughly 10,000 for the day.
Venters said the new decision to not have any speeches came after considering diocesan and state guidelines as well as “a lot of prayer, discerning the wisdom and understanding from the Holy Spirit, gathering the ‘sense of the faithful’ … looking at the ‘signs of the times’ (and) considering the welfare of the parishioners and members of the community.”
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Venters closed by adding that more details on the meat sale and raffle will be released soon, and he expressed appreciation for the event’s Picnic Committee.
“The parish of St. Jerome has been in existence for 184 years,” Venters said. “During those 184 years, the people have lived and prayed through times of drought, wars, pandemics, times of plenty and times of scarcity and have held steady to the faith and depended on God’s providence.
“We will continue to do the same in our time and in the future. Know of my prayers for you and I ask a remembrance of me in yours. God bless.”
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