I bet you’ve heard of the Fancy Farm Picnic, but how many of you have ever been to one? This annual extravaganza makes the national news because of the massive amount of food consumed by huge crowds - who all come to hear our politicians make rousing stump speeches.
In what is commonly referred to as the “good old days,” politicians would climb aboard a flatbed truck, decorated with red, white, and blue bunting, and deliver the kind of rousing campaign speeches that would send the crowd into torrents of either festive hurrahs, or surly boos and hisses. That tradition has died in most of the country - but not in Fancy Farm. On the first Saturday in August the town comes alive with an old-fashioned political picnic.
The famous Fancy Farm Picnic is actually a church fund raiser for St. Jerome Catholic Church - not a political forum per se. The picnic started in 1880 with a public invitation for everyone to attend. It was first a potluck and Gander Pull which raised money for the church. (A Gander Pull is a blood sport originating in Spain in the 12th Century.)
The picnic became a homecoming of sorts, as those who had been born and raised in Fancy Farm but had left the area, returned for the fun and the food. It was originally held on a Wednesday but eventually moved to the weekend to accommodate more people.
Politicians took notice of the large crowd which would gather there each year and realized it was a great opportunity to get votes. Fancy Farm’s event was not unique as many such events and fund raisers were held in communities all over Kentucky at the time. But Fancy Farm’s Picnic grew and attracted visitors. As many other events have fallen by the wayside, the annual Fancy Farm Picnic is still going strong - at one time, the picnic drew in over 18,000 in attendance.
The picnic always includes a large assortment of carnival games and entertainment. Including of course Bingo!
$5 can buy you a brand new vehicle. A new automobile is given away every year at Picnic. The giveaway takes place at 10pm the night of the Picnic and you don’t have to be present to win. This year’s car, donated by David Taylor Chrysler in Murray is a cool Jeep!
Sign up for the St. Jerome One Mile Classic One Mile Walk/Run which takes place the night before the fun on Friday, August 4 at 7 pm. This event is for all ages and begins at the front of St. Jerome. Kids and adults race to the Creek Bridge and back. For information on the One Mile Classic, please contact Jimmy Elder at 270.674.5665 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 5K race follows once the One Mile Classic is complete. The 5k consists of 3.1 miles down highway 339. If you run this race you will encounter long roads and a few hills, but in the end, you will hear hundreds of people cheering you on as you cross the finish line.
The entry fee is $15 prior to Wednesday. The entry fee from Thursday through race day is $25. All runners receive a t-shirt. To register online, visit fancyfarmpicnic.org/5K.php.
The line-up of speakers at the 2017 event will include someone for everyone. It includes state senators and representatives, Congressman and the Kentucky Attorney General, and many more! Pending politicians include Secretary of State Allison Grimes and Senator Mitch McConnell.
A public clash between Kentucky's two most powerful politicians will have to wait another year. Governor Bevin says he will skip the 2017 "political speaking" at the picnic.
Glasgow attorney and former Kentucky House Speaker Bobby Richardson is the emcee at this year’s event. Organizers encourage emcees to be non-partisan while speaking at the picnic but things always seem to work out at Fancy Farm, everyone just tries to have a good time.
Want to learn more? Visit fancyfarm.net where you can find information about the town, the picnic and St. Jerome parish.