Fancy Farm speaking roster has full house Beshear, Cameron confirm attendance for 143rd annual event

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023


Kentucky Today

The roster of speakers for the political speaking portion of the 143rd annual Fancy Farm picnic is now set, and every candidate for the statewide Constitutional offices has agreed to participate in the event, which takes place Aug. 5.

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The Fancy Farm picnic takes place on the grounds of St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in the small Graves County community, where thousands annually enjoy west Kentucky barbecue, play games, and listen to political stump speeches.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who along with his running mate Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, are seeking re-election to a second term, have confirmed their appearances to speak, as has Republican challenger Daniel Cameron.  He has not yet named his running mate and the deadline is the week after Fancy Farm, but if papers are filed with the Secretary of State’s office prior to the picnic, he or she also has a spot reserved on the speakers’ list.

Other candidates who are speaking include, in order of the office they are seeking:

• Agriculture Commissioner–Johnathon Shell (Rep.) and Sierra Enlow (Dem.)

• State Treasurer — Michael Bowman (Dem.) and Mark Metcalf (Rep.)

• State Auditor — Allison Bell (Rep.) and  Kim Reeder (Dem.)

• Attorney General – Pamela Stevenson (Dem.) and Russell Coleman (Rep.)

• Secretary of State – Michael Adams (Rep.) and Buddy Wheatley (Dem.)

In addition, current State Auditor Mike Harmon and Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles will also speak, along with officeholders who represent Graves County: Congressman James Comer, State Sen. Jason Howell, and State Rep. Richard Heath.   

U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are still pending, due to the uncertainty of whether the Senate will be in session in August.

Although the Fancy Farm picnic started in 1880, it did not become Kentucky’s top political event until 1931.  That’s when A.B. “Happy” Chandler made an appearance while campaigning for lieutenant governor.  Since then, it has served in every election year as the traditional kick-off to the fall campaign season.