Politics

The Fancy Farm Picnic kicks off today in Graves County in far-west Kentucky. The annual political speaking event takes place in the afternoon, drawing politicians and barbecue lovers from around the state.

Before a Democratic dinner Friday evening, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear stoked the flames of an ongoing feud with Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Beshear said he had alerted federal authorities about a house Bevin purchased from a political donor and state contractor.

“The step we’ve taken thus far is to refer any federal issues we’ve seen to federal law enforcement entities,” Beshear said.

Bevin purchased the house for $1 million less than the county’s original estimate for how much it should cost. But Bevin appealed the official value and on Friday a board lowered its value--vindicating the governor’s claim that the county had inflated the value of his home.

Hecklers at Fancy Farm 2015.

Bevin won’t be at Fancy Farm this year, citing a scheduling conflict. But Republicans led by new House Speaker Jeff Hoover will be out in force to defend the governor and each other.  Other speakers include Beshear and Republican Congressman and former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

It’s been a rough year for Democrats in Kentucky: in January, the General Assembly convened with the GOP controlling the House for the first time since 1921. Now, Republicans control both legislative bodies and the governor’s mansion for the first time in state history.

On the eve of Fancy Farm, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth said he’s confident Kentucky voters are going to come back to Democrats because Republicans are attacking the Affordable Care Act.

“Now with Matt Bevin and Donald Trump they understand it does make a difference,” Yarmuth said. “And that’s why you’re seeing this outpouring of grassroots support from people who were never involved before.”

Tradition of the Fancy Farm Picnic dictates that speakers make stump speeches and hurl insults at their opponents before a rowdy crowd.

St. Jerome’s Catholic Church has hosted the Fancy Farm Picnic since its inception in the 1880s. Each year, volunteers barbecue several tons of pork and mutton to sell to more than 10,000 attendees.

The event will be broadcast live on KET at 3 pm Eastern Time.

Speakers include:

  • State Sen. Stan Humphries, Republican
  • State Rep. Richard Heath, Republican
  • U.S. Rep. James Comer, Republican
  • House Speaker Jeff Hoover, Republican
  • House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, Democrat
  • Attorney General Andy Beshear, Democrat
  • Agriculture Commission Ryan Quarles, Republican
  • State Auditor Mike Harmon, Republican
  • Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark

 

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.