Community Politics

As they have for several years, protesters gathered outside the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Annual Ham Breakfast Thursday morning at the state fair.

Two years ago, three people were arrested during the event. There were no arrests this year, and this time, protesters brought with them a special guest: “Freda,” an eight-foot-tall puppet.

“As someone who grew up here, I remember seeing ‘Freddy Farm Bureau’ at the fair every year,” said Michael Aldridge, executive director of the Kentucky ACLU. “So we thought we’d make a puppet that shows Freddy’s cousin, ‘Freda,’ and show her difference of opinion.”

Lisa Gillespie | wfpl.org

“Freda Fairness,” created by Squallis Puppeteers.

This marks the sixth year that Kentucky ACLU, the Fairness Campaign and other groups have stood outside the annual ham breakfast in protest of the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s lobbying policies.

Most people may just think of insurance when that name comes up. But according to Aldridge and other protesters,“They’re anti-LGBT, they’re anti-union, they’re anti-choice, and we think more should know what those policies are, and when they get an insurance policy through Kentucky Farm Bureau that they’re supporting those types of decisions.”

Responding to a request for comment for this story, KFB spokesman B. Todd Bright said, “We respect the rights of all organizations to develop their own public policy positions, just as we develop ours through a democratic grassroots process.”

KFB has a lobbying arm, and a portion of fees paid to the bureau goes toward those lobbying efforts. The organization has defended its position on various issues, including those relating to the LGBTQ community. During a speech at last year’s breakfast, President Mark Haney said KFB “does not discriminate.”

Aldridge hoped having Freda at the event would help the protesters spread the word.

As the last stragglers entered the building to get their ham breakfast Thursday morning, Freda followed. And although she had a ticket, Freda wasn’t allowed into the hall where Gov. Matt Bevin, Senator Mitch McConnell and others spoke to breakfast attendees.

This story has been updated.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.