The annual tradition that is Fancy Farm was paused in 2020 as the COVID pandemic gripped the world, but this year normalcy returns and that means piles of mutton and political one-liners on the first Saturday in August in far west Kentucky.
Bob Babbage, the lobbyist and former Democratic Auditor (1988-1992) and Secretary of State (1992 – 1996) will emcee the event this year. Babbage is one of Kentucky Fried Politics’ top 20 power brokers in the state and even though he served as a Democrat he is friendly with both sides of the political aisle.
“We love Fancy Farm so I am sure humbled and honored,” Babbage said in a news release. “There’s nothing quite like this anywhere. It’s a Kentucky political family reunion with a whole lot of would-be cousins showing up to check a box on their political bucket list.”
There has been a wide gamut of emcees in recent years, in 2015 Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones, a Democrat who considered political campaigns, emceed the event. In 2016, Republican strategist Scott Jennings hosted the event. By 2017 former Democratic Speaker of the Kentucky House Bobby Richardson took over the hosting duties, followed by Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in 2018. In 2019, the hosting veered back towards the middle with Bill Goodman holding court from the stage.
Fancy Farm, the small village in west Kentucky, is known for the political speaking event and picnic that benefits St. Jerome’s Catholic Parish. Even in an off-cycle year, there’s news that often breaks, campaigns have been mounted from the stage, and there’s always the repartee between the speakers and the crowd.
This year will likely feature jabs surrounding the 2023 governor’s race. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who is expected to challenge Beshear in 2023, have been trading barbs via the press. This event will likely be the first time the two meet in person on the same stage in 2021.
Steve Elder takes the helm of the political speaking as the chairman this year from Mark Wilson, who headed the event for 15 years, and is still serving as a picnic advisor and volunteer.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome everyone back as the Fancy Farm tradition, dating all the way back to 1880 continues,” said Elder.