Fancy Farm

Fancy Farm 2019 Audio Postcard

Aug 5, 2019
Liam Niemeyer / WKMS

The 139th Annual Fancy Farm Picnic on Saturday brought barbecue, bingo and heaps of political mudslinging. 

From chants of "Moscow Mitch" to bitter rivals Governor Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear sharing the stage to jokes and jabs from downticket candidates, the fundraiser for St. Jerome's Catholic Church in rural west Kentucky saw a large turnout and marked the unofficial kick-off of the fall campaign season. 

Here's an audio postcard:

Matt Markgraf / WKMS

A former Navy SEAL who says he fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden shared his experiences and a message of positivity at a GOP rally in Murray Friday night. 

Robert O’Neill was on SEAL Team Six during the raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan compound in 2011. The decorated veteran is now a motivational speaker. 

Bevin And Beshear Spar on Fancy Farm Stage

Aug 5, 2019
Matt Markgraf / WKMS

The 139th Annual Fancy Farm Picnic on Saturday in Graves County saw two bitter political rivals -- Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Governor Republican Matt Bevin -- taking turns on stage bashing each other in a battle for governor.

Bevin began his speech emphasizing that the picnic was a fundraiser for the local St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, and transitioned into reiterating his recent criticism of Beshear. The governor unfurled a banner, showing a Beshear campaign fundraiser hosted by Louisville-based Dr. Ernest Marshall, of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. He held a press conference last week on the same topic.

Matt Markgraf / WKMS

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is calling on Republicans to take voting seriously in November and to vote their values. 

"I would just simply ask you vote your values and not your party," Bevin said at the west Kentucky GOP Night Before Fancy Farm rally in Murray on Friday night. "Go in and vote your values. Vote your Kentucky values. Your western Kentucky values. Your American values. Those things that do recognize freedom and liberty, individual responsibility, the things that are the foundations of this nation."

He said a turnout of 30% is a sad commentary about how apathetic voters have become. According to the State Board of Elections, the turnout in the 2015 gubernatorial election was 30.6%.


Candidates for Kentucky’s 5th District State Representative answered questions on the state’s service tax at a forum in Murray on Tuesday. The legislation went into effect in July and requires businesses and nonprofits to collect sales tax on services. Democratic candidate David Ramey says the bill is terrible “all the way across the board.” He says if elected he would vote to repeal the tax as it applies to church picnics like Fancy Farm.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles will emcee the annual Fancy Farm Picnic this year. The fundraiser for Saint Jerome’s Catholic Church is one of the best known political events in the state. Organizer Mark Wilson says Quarles is the first millennial to emcee the picnic.

Wilson suggested the relatively young emcee is a sign the picnic, in its 138th year, is  “embracing the changing times.”

While AG Beshear Speaks, Gov. Bevin Will Skip Fancy Farm

Jul 5, 2017
Tom Eblen

A public clash between Kentucky's two most powerful politicians will have to wait another year.

A spokesman for Matt Bevin says the Republican governor will skip the annual "political speaking" at the Fancy Farm picnic.  

GOP Dominates Fancy Farm 2016

Aug 6, 2016

Democrats were heavily outnumbered onstage this year at Fancy Farm, which used to be dominated by the party. Republicans also made up most of the audience, taking a victory lap after a big year politically. 

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear declined his invitation to Fancy Farm this year. Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear wasn’t in attendance either.

During his speech, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin pounced on the opportunity. “Do we really miss papa bear and baby bear up here, spewing their anger?”

Fancy Farm 2015

Aug 3, 2015
J. Tyler Franklin / Louisville Public Media

For some in Western Kentucky, the Fancy Farm Picnic is about chopped mutton and pork, bingo and music. 

J. Tyler Franklin /

In a rare moment for the 2015 election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday spoke on behalf of his former intra-party rival Matt Bevin, endorsing him for Kentucky governor during the Fancy Farm picnic.

Efforts to maintain a legislative majority can sometimes create surprising political bedfellows.  That was exemplified this past weekend during the Fancy Farm picnic.

KET Videos from Fancy Farm

Aug 2, 2014

Follow this link to videos of speeches during Saturday's Fancy Farm political picnic.

Videos from Fancy Farm, courtesy of KET

Hundreds Cheer, Jeer Kentucky's Senate Candidates

Aug 2, 2014
Wikipedia Commons

FANCY FARM, Ky. (AP) — Hundreds of people have flocked to a small Kentucky town to cheer and jeer Senate candidates Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes as they take pokes at each other in an annual bit of political theater.

The 134th Fancy Farm picnic is a fundraiser for the St. Jerome Catholic Church and marks the official start of Kentucky's campaign season.

The Republican leader of the Senate, McConnell is locked in one of the closest Senate races in the country.

Comer Announces Bid for Governor

Aug 2, 2014
File photo

FANCY FARM, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has announced his candidacy for governor in 2015.

The former state lawmaker used the stage at Kentucky's premier political event to say he wants to lead the state after running the Agriculture Department. His announcement came Saturday at the Fancy Farm picnic in western Kentucky.

The Fancy Farm Picnic’s political chair Mark Wilson says Democrats and Republicans offered positive feedback following a conference call to encourage a more civil atmosphere at this year's picnic.

  Wilson, along with St. Jerome Parish pastor Darrell Venters, orchestrated the phone call last week that included Kentucky Democratic Party chair Dan Logsdon, Republican party chair Steve Robertson and the campaign managers for both Sen. Mitch McConnell and Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes.

KET Special provides Fancy Farm highlights

Aug 5, 2012

A special program from Kentucky's premier political speech-making event kicks off Kentucky Educational Television's coverage of the fall 2012 election.