FRANKFORT — Long-time Republican activist and public relations executive Scott Jennings will emcee this year’s Fancy Farm Picnic political speaking on Aug. 6.
The annual event is unique in American politics. In an age of computerized voter profiles, sophisticated polling and massive television advertising, Fancy Farm brings opponents together on the same stage in the sweltering heat on the first Saturday of August each year.
Located on the grounds of St. Jerome Catholic church in the hamlet of Fancy Farm (population 500 or so) in Graves County, this year’s event will mark the 136th edition.
Jennings is a founding partner of RunSwitchPR in Louisville but is best known for his political work for Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and for serving as a special assistant to President George W. Bush.
Jennings also writes an op-ed column for The Courier-Journal and is a veteran of four presidential and three U.S. Senate campaigns.
The University of Louisville graduate was born in Princeton and grew up in nearby Dawson Springs.
“We are thrilled to have Scott join us for the 2016 St. Jerome Picnic at Fancy Farm,” said Mark Wilson, chair of the political speaking event.
“While many Kentuckians know about our world-famous picnic with its 10 tons of hot and spicy barbecue and hot and steamy weather, we think having someone with (Jennings’) charm and humor and interest in Kentucky and U.S. politics and history will bring expanded awareness and enhancement to our festivities and event.”
Jennings sounded thrilled too.
“I’m very excited and honored to serve as emcee for an event I look forward to each and every year,” Jennings said. “I can’t wait to be the official moderator and ‘peacemaker’ between the political speakers and factions at the hallowed grounds at St. Jerome’s in Fancy Farm.”
The Fancy Farm Picnic is a fundraiser for St. Jerome’s Parish and is considered a must-attend event for statewide candidates on that year’s ballot. It’s often seen as the unofficial kickoff to fall campaigns.
The political speaking began in the 1930s when A.B. “Happy” Chandler stopped to campaign at the picnic and then began coming back each year. Other prominent politicians who’ve spoked at Fancy Farm are Alben Barkley, Al Gore, Lloyd Bentsen and George Wallace.
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Follow him on Twitter @cnhifrankfort.