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Kentucky’s political tradition, Fancy Farm, coming up on Aug. 3 — here’s the lineup so far

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Six-minute speeches from gubernatorial candidates Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear highlight a long list of speakers at the much-anticipated Fancy Farm picnic on Aug. 3.

The speaking order is set for next month’s political speaking event that is traditionally the kickoff for the fall campaign in Kentucky.

Fancy Farm file photo by Tom Latek/Kentucky Today

The Fancy Farm Picnic takes place on at St. Jerome’s Church in the small community in far Western Kentucky, as it has since 1880, when the congregation began serving lots of barbeque as a church fundraiser. It did not become Kentucky’s top political event until 1931, when A.B. “Happy” Chandler made an appearance while campaigning for lieutenant governor.

Speeches begin with the lawmakers who represent Graves County, state Sen. Stan Humphries and state Rep. Richards Heath, along with U.S. Congressman James Comer.

Then comes what many consider the main event when gubernatorial candidates, who simply don’t like each other and have sparred since Bevin became governor, will be on the clock.

Fancy Farm fans will be there in force cheering and booing the candidates. The gubernatorial rivals will be followed by their running mates for lieutenant governor, Republican State Sen. Ralph Alvarado and Democrat Jacqueline Coleman.

Here is the rest of the scheduled speakers including many constitutional offices that will be decided in this fall’s election cycle:

-Agriculture Commissioner: Republican incumbent Ryan Quarles and Democratic challenger Robert Conway.

-Secretary of State: Republican Mike Adams and Democrat Heather French Henry. Current Secretary of State, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is term-limited, has not yet confirmed whether she will appear.

-Attorney General: Republican Daniel Cameron and Democrat Greg Stumbo.

-State Treasurer: Republican incumbent Allison Ball and Democratic challenger Michael Bowman.

-State Auditor: Democrat Sheri Donahue and Republican incumbent Mike Harmon.

The final speakers are the non-partisan Supreme Court candidates who will represent western Kentucky: current Appeals Court Judge Shea Nickell and State Sen. Whitney Westerfield.

Among the constitutional office-seekers, the gubernatorial candidates will have six minutes to speak, the others are limited to three minutes.

Neither of Kentucky’s U.S. Senators, Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, have confirmed if they will attend.

In a break from tradition, when the emcee would alternate between Democrats and Republicans, this year’s master of ceremonies will be Bill Goodman, the retired Kentucky Educational Television host.

Fancy Farm organizer Mike Wilson says he expects a crowd of 10,000 to 15,000. It will also be broadcast live on KET.

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