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Ky. House Speaker David Osborne named this year’s Fancy Farm emcee

David Osborne during the 2022 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

A prominent member of Kentucky’s Republican legislative leadership will be the emcee of the 142nd Fancy Farm picnic in August, hosting the annual event in Graves County known for political speeches, rhetorical barbs, barbeque and bingo.

Political Chairman of the Fancy Farm picnic Steven Elder said he was excited that state House of Representatives Speaker David Osborne accepted the invitation to emcee the event, saying that Fancy Farm picnic leadership try to alternate between political parties on who emcees the event each year. Former Kentucky secretary of state and state auditor Bob Babbage, a Democrat, was last year’s emcee.

“The Fancy Farm Picnic is a great political tradition in the Commonwealth and each year it is challenging to decide on an emcee,” Elder said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have so many people come to western Kentucky each year for the event and certainly fortunate to secure Speaker Osborne as our master of ceremonies.”

According to a release from Elder, the last speaker of the house to emcee the event was in 2006, when Democrat Jody Richards was chosen as the host. Osborne said in a statement it is “an incredible privilege to serve as emcee.”

“While we all know the political rhetoric can get as hot as the temperature, the Fancy Farm tradition is a unique and quintessential Kentucky experience,” Osborne said.

Osborne, who represents part of Oldham County, was nominated to be speaker in 2018 and first assumed office in the House of Representatives in 2005.

The last two years of the storied picnic have looked far from the norm due to disruptions from the pandemic. Gov. Andy Beshear declined to attend last year, citing the spread of COVID-19 at that time, leaving the event with no Democratic speakers. Political speeches at the 2020 picnic were canceled due to concerns of the pandemic.

The event should be an initial look at Republican candidates for governor – including state auditor Mike Harmon, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, and Attorney General Daniel Cameron – vying for the party’s nomination to challenge Beshear, who is seeking a second term in 2023. The picnic also could showcase this year’s race for U.S. Senate with Democrat Charles Booker, a former state representative from Louisville, challenging GOP incumbent Rand Paul of Bowling Green, who is looking to be reelected for a third term.

The picnic also takes place amid an ongoing political shift of western Kentucky toward Republicans. Once a Democratic stronghold, Republicans now represent all legislative seats in the state House and Senate in districts west of Bowling Green. In January, Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams predicted that changes in voter registration would mean “a plurality of Kentucky voters” would be registered as Republicans by the November general election.

"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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