TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

June 23, 2014

Senate race pumps up Fancy Farm

CORBIN — Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

It’s almost time for the 134th annual Fancy Farm, a unique political spectacle you can find nowhere else. The annual fundraiser for St. Jerome’s Parish in far western Kentucky is also the world’s largest picnic.

Neither statement is an embellishment. Last year, around 12,000 people descended on the little hamlet of 500 residents located 10 miles west of Mayfield. Among them were reporters from The New York Times, NBC, The Washington Post, and NPR and the usual contingent of statewide media.

As Mark Wilson, the event’s political chair, said in 2013, “I think this year is just an appetizer for next year.” Well, next year will be here on Aug. 2 and I expect the number of national media and the crowds to be even bigger, hungry for a taste of the country’s most watched election between incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The spectacle of politicians trying to be heard over raucous partisan crowds is exceeded only by the quality of the food and the hospitality of good people like Greg Higdon, the Carrico Family (in charge of smoking that delicious barbecue) and the always affable, accommodating Wilson. Around 20,000 pounds of barbecued pork, mutton and chicken will be served along with locally homegrown vegetables and homemade desserts.

It’s steeped in tradition. A.B. “Happy” Chandler showed up in the 1930s, saw the political potential and began going every year. Soon politicians were speaking every year beneath an old tree which didn’t survive a lightning strike in 1974. Some interpreted that as divine displeasure. But former Gov. Louie B. Nunn explained it this way: “Too much fertilizer will kill anything.”

The tree was replaced by a covered pavilion and a speaker’s stand, and it’s all getting a major facelift this year in anticipation of national attention. The wooden stand at one end of the pavilion has been replaced by a spiffy concrete and brick structure. Wilson said there will be a larger, restricted area for the press.

But Wilson and Fancy Farm are working on a more important change.

As Nunn observed, there can be too much of a good thing. There was a time when a lone heckler in the audience could tempt a politician to interrupt his speech to engage in witty back-and-forth insults which often produced memorable lines and elevated – or diminished – a candidate’s profile.

But then the politicians began bussing in supporters who had previously rehearsed and choreographed chants and insults. They screamed in unison to drown out and discombobulate the speaker. It caught on and caught reporters’ attention who wrote about how well — or how poorly — a candidate performed in the face of screaming, apoplectic partisans. That encouraged even more of it and the political rhetoric became secondary.

It’s gotten out of hand. So Wilson and the St. Jerome clergy have asked Steve Robertson, Chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky; Dan Logsdon, Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party; McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton; and Grimes’ father, Jerry Lundergan to have their supporters tone it down this year.

“We’re not trying to take all the fun out of it,” Wilson said, “but it’s just gotten way out of hand and we want to calm it down a little.” After all, he reminded me, it is a church picnic and fundraiser. So what has been the reaction?

“They’ve all acted pretty positive about it,” Wilson said.

Good. The media should report who cooperates and who doesn’t. No one, including the good Catholics of St. Jerome, objects to a little political hell-raising, but as Nunn observed, too much fertilizer will kill anything.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • LIKE IT OR NOT: MLB's All Star effort was a bust

    With the 85th edition of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in the books, I have to say I feel like the whole thing was a complete bust.

    July 18, 2014

  • THE WAY IT IS: Some local teams can make a run

    Well folks, our Little League All-Star action is beginning to wind down, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see two of the Tri-County’s resp

    July 17, 2014

  • LIKE IT OR NOT: It's been a very busy summer

    While a lot of people would expect the local sports scene to slow down in the Tri-County in the summer time, that’s not usually the case for us here at the Times-Tribune.

    July 16, 2014

  • John Ross.jpg May we all cherish those few WWII vets who still live

    I watch this old BBC program pretty often called “Are You Being Served?” It’s mostly out of syndication — what shows remain can be seen most often through PBS.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0502 Bobbie Poynter So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

    I never have been very good at saying goodbye — family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, community — for years you’ve had my back and in turn, I believe I’ve had yours.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie Ellis.jpg ‘Uh hummm!’ It’s been an interesting week

    One column can’t cover everything from a busy week of political events, but here are some quick takeaways from last week.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Let’s multiply our numbers like fleas do

    Last Saturday, my wife, Carmen, and I spent the day at the Kings Island theme park near Cincinnati, Ohio.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Not an earthly trace

    Just married (1897) and in his late 20’s, my grandfather was determined to make a living on a hillside farm covered in wilderness; much as his father had done before him in 1846  when he arrived from Germany.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Col. Mustard with the candlestick in Heaven

    One of my favorite movies is the murder mystery comedy “Clue,” which is based on the popular board game of the same name.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Now or Never

    A story is told of an old widower who decided it was time to find a new wife. He chose to look for this new bride through the obituaries column; identifying new widows.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide