The Richmond Register


July 28, 2013

Here comes Fancy Farm

FRANKFORT — Hoo boy! It’s time to head to Fancy Farm, the normally peaceful hamlet in Graves County that once a year turns into a raucous, delicious celebration of its history, great food and politics gone wild.

This is a non-election year but recent developments in the U.S. Senate race make this year’s Fancy Farm look especially tasty. Political Chairman Mark Wilson (one of the most affable, congenial persons one will ever meet) said not only will Sen. Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes speak but so will McConnell’s just announced primary challenger, Matthew Bevin.

McConnell seeks a sixth term next year and remains favored to win re-election, but things haven’t gone as smoothly recently as McConnell would have wished.

There are signs his control of Senate Republicans may be slipping just a bit. Sen. John McCain worked out a filibuster deal with Democratic Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid, apparently without McConnell’s direct participation. Then Bevin announced he’ll run as a tea party challenger in the Republican primary, something McConnell desperately wanted to avoid.

Thursday, Grimes sent her supporters a video demonstrating she’s planning to put up a fight. She directly and defiantly addresses McConnell in the video, saying she doesn’t scare easily and basically telling him to bring it on.

Wilson said other potential Senate candidates will be given speaking slots, including Owensboro Democrat Ed Marksberry. The state’s two top Democrats, Gov. Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, will be missing as will Sen. Rand Paul. (Abramson’s absence might indicate he’s decided not to run for governor in 2015.)

As others often point out, candidates probably can’t win an election at Fancy Farm, but they can lose one if they commit a major gaffe. The respective campaigns will train video cameras on opposing candidates to capture any missteps, and if they do you’ll see them over and over in campaign commercials.

McConnell faces attack from both sides. He’ll probably talk more about Barack Obama than Grimes or Bevin who McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, says represents little more than a “nuisance.” (Don’t believe it; the day Bevin announced, McConnell put up an ad entitled “Bailout Bevin.”) History also suggests some of McConnell’s young supporters will show up in costume to poke fun at Grimes or Bevin.

But this year McConnell will speak without some help he usually has. Scott Jennings has previously supplied some of the punch lines in McConnell’s Fancy Farm speeches but this time Jennings is working with a SuperPAC backing McConnell and so cannot coordinate with the McConnell campaign.

Grimes will face an antagonistic crowd of Republicans trying their best to drown her out, hoping she’ll raise her decibel level in the heat and bombast. Republicans have made fun of Grimes’ occasional penchant for raising her voice while speaking to crowds. Her goal is to try to make the race about McConnell, separate herself from Obama and portray herself as a loyal defender of coal.

Bevin will confront something probably unlike anything he’s ever seen – the harassing, hollering partisans trying to embarrass, provoke or drown him out. It’ll be a severe test for the political novice, but as Paul showed in 2009 it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate he is a credible challenger to the status quo.

Like Paul four years ago, Bevin will also likely attract a bunch of newcomers to Fancy Farm this year. They’re in for a treat.

So too are you — if you go. I’m pretty sure I can promise you’ve never seen anything like it, and if you enjoy politics, you ought to see it at least once.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at cnhifrankfort

Text Only
  • 06.29 CrystalFarewell.jpg Starting over at Head Start

    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
    I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

    What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
    I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

What county fair attraction do you like most?

Amusement rides
Beauty pageants
Flora Hall craft exhibits
Horse shows
Livestock, poultry shows
Truck, tractor pulls
Mud, dirt races
Gospel sing
I like them all
     View Results