McConnell/Grimes Race Could Draw 20,000 to Fancy Farm Picnic

Jul 16, 2014

The brand new stage at St. Jerome Parish.
Credit WKMS File Photo

The 134th Fancy Farm Picnic is now just a little more than two weeks away and the line-up of speakers is almost complete.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, are expected to face off for the second time in as many years on August 2. Fancy Farm political chair Mark Wilson says, unlike Grimes, McConnell has yet to confirm his appearance, but expects the five-term Senator will make the trip.

Wilson said the picnic’s attendance could swell to as many as 20,000 people.

“Normally we’ll do 10-12,000 or so," Wilson said. "But with all the heightened interest in the McConnell/Grimes race and then you’ve got U.S. Sen. Rand Paul with some presidential aspirations and then we’ve got Jack Conway and James Comer, both sitting state officials who have gubernatorial aspirations.”

Comer has yet to actually declare himself a candidate for governor. The lone Republican to officially enter the race, Hal Heiner, will not be invited to speak, according to Wilson, because he’s not a sitting public official. McConnell's primary challenger, Matt Bevin, ran into the same problem at last year's event, but was eventually invited to speak.

Like McConnell, Gov. Steve Beshear has yet to announce if he will attend the event.

Wilson said he's working with state party leaders to tone down the often-vitriolic, always-loud political rhetoric from those who aren’t actually on the stage.

“We really appreciate everyone coming down, but we’ve got a lot of guests who come from far and wide who actually want to hear what the speakers have to say," Wilson said of the coordinated crowd efforts. "The last few years it’s just kind of turned into a shout-fest by the organizers of the opposite campaign.”

Wilson said he will hold another conference call later this week with Republican Party of Kentucky chair Steve Robertson and Kentucky Democratic Party leader Dan Logsdon to discuss the possibility of a more civil event.