Fancy Farm Update: Big names, new rules and an updated stage for the annual political picnic

07/17/2014 03:11 PM

Event organizers of the 134th Fancy Farm Picnic are firming up the last of their speaking roster for this year’s event as the main attraction of Grimes versus McConnell has staff updating the venue, and guests are being warned to be respectful as a national TV audience descends upon the village of Fancy Farm.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s staff confirmed that the senior Senator for the state will be at the event. McConnell’s Democratic challenger Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will share the stage with McConnell in a repeat of last year’s showdown.

Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator Republican Rand Paul will also speak at the picnic which is famed as much for its political speaking as the fresh vegetables, pork and mutton. Paul’s trips to early presidential primary states has stoked talk of a presidential bid in 2016, and he’s said he’s considering a run.

In addition to the U.S. Senate candidates, contenders for the 2015 governor’s race also will make the trip to far western Kentucky for the annual speaking event at the Fancy Farm picnic on Aug. 2.

Attorney General Jack Conway, who entered the Democratic primary for governor in early May is expected to speak according to Mark Wilson, the event’s organizer. Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer will also speak and will likely make headlines — Comer told WKYT’s Bill Bryant in an interview this week that he would announce his 2015 intentions from the stage.

Gov. Steve Beshear will also take the stage, confirmed Dan Logsdon the chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party. Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson will not be in attendance at the picnic, Logsdon cited a prior family commitment.

Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen, who is seeking re-election to the post, will also speak at this year’s picnic, his spokeswoman confirmed to Pure Politics.

While the speaking and the food draw a crowd, organizers are working hard to make sure things keep their civility and everyone can hear the speakers. In recent years, the event has turned into a “choreographed shout-fest” Wilson said, and this year they are doing all they can to tamp down the behavior.

Wilson said organizers have talked with the Kentucky Democratic Party, Republican Party of Kentucky and campaign chair people to reduce the constant disruption. Wilson added they don’t expect silence, but do want to cut down the non-stop screaming and chanting from the opposition party.

Event organizers are expecting an additional 5,000 to 10,000 people at the event this year and they are revamping the stage.

Wilson said they’ve demolished the wooden platform and have replaced it with a red-brick porch complete with white railings and ceiling fans to beat back the August heat.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


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