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Former Kentucky Elected Official Named Fancy Farm Picnic Emcee

Taylor Inman, WKMS
Fancy Farm

  A former Kentucky secretary of state and former state auditor will emcee this year’s Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County, known for charged speeches and zingers from politicians across the state. Picnic organizers are planning for a more normal event after last year’s gathering was scaled down due to COVID-19 restrictions. 


Bob Babbage of Lexington in a statement Monday said he was “humbled and honored” to be this year’s emcee for the picnic, planned for August 7. The annual picnic has served as a fundraiser for St. Jerome’s Catholic Church and school, with the tradition dating back to the 19th century.


“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,” Babbage said. 


Babbage served as Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts from 1988 to 1992, and served as the Secretary of State of Kentucky from 1992 to 1996. Babbage is now a managing partner at Babbage Cofounder, a leading lobbying firm in Kentucky and Washington D.C. According to a release from Fancy Farm picnic organizers, Babbage is the grandson of former Kentucky Governor Keen Johnson, who spoke at the Fancy Farm picnic in the mid-20th century. 


Fancy Farm picnic chair Steven Elder said organizers are planning for a more normal gathering with barbeque, bingo, and speeches. He said he’s unsure if the state’s mask mandate for outdoor events with more than 1,000 people will affect the picnic, but he’s “cautiously optimistic” that a normal gathering will happen as planned.


“We are certainly following the CDC guidelines and the governor’s recommendations, but want to have a safe picnic, but plan to have a scaled back version much like last year if  it requires us to do so,” Elder said. “We’re really excited, but you know, could the rug be pulled out from under us, and we have to do the right thing? Certainly."


Elder said he hoped Kentuckians will continue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine so that future events such as the Fancy Farm picnic can be normal.


"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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