On the road to this weekend’s Fancy Farm political picnic, there are detours.
One is the Dainty contest, a unique annual sports event in Louisville’s Schnitzelburg neighborhood that draws local and statewide politicians.
In the run up to Fancy Farm, the Dainty has served as a kind of roadside attraction. Candidates rub elbows with prospective voters in an attempt to energize the base in one of Kentucky’s most solidly working-class Democratic strongholds.
Monday night’s Dainty, with maybe 4oo people in attendance, was no different.
For the uninitiated: Players wield a three-foot stick and use it to bounce a stationary (and much-smaller stick) off of the ground, with the goal of striking the smaller stick—called the Dainty—to send it sailing down the shotgun house-lined Hoertz Avenue.
The Dainty contest has been held on this street since the early 1970s, when local businessman George Hauck started it as a fundraiser for the Little Sisters of the Poor Catholic charity.
Hoertz is on the western tip of state Rep. Jim Wayne’s district. Wayne, a Democrat, has been playing the game for over 20 years.
“It involves a lot of eye-hand coordination,” said Wayne, who scored 15 feet. “So if you’re good at golf, if you’re good at baseball and tennis, you’re probably good at the Dainty.”
Monday’s contest also drew Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
He didn’t fare so well, striking out after three attempts.
“I whiffed!” Conway said. “That was awful! It’s really hard.”
Conway, however, said that his poor performance doesn’t portend any omens for his upcoming speech at Fancy Farm.
“I got it out of my system,” he says.