Smoke wafts from the barbecue pits, spreading an intoxicating scent over the picnic grounds. Thousands of people line up for pork and mutton sandwiches, drenching them in a signature sauce. A barbecue festival? Nope.
It’s one of the nation’s premier cook-outs: Fancy Farm. Described as “the world’s largest picnic,” the event is an annual fundraiser for St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, located in the small town of Fancy Farm (yes, it’s a real name), Kentucky. It’s also one of the biggest political events in the nation, featuring fiery speeches delivered by Kentucky’s top elected officials.
While political junkies relish the folksy punch lines and witty campaign signs, others avidly anticipate the fixings on offer. Those in-the-know arrive early to join the snaking line to the Knights of Columbus Hall, which contains a famous buffet. Featuring home-style cooked helpings of green beans, purple hull peas, potato salad, corn, more of that Western Kentucky-style barbecue, and a selection of cakes and pies, all of the dishes are grown and prepared by local community members.
With approximately 18,000 pounds of pork and mutton and hundreds of pounds of vegetables cooked up each year, preparing the food for Fancy Farm is a mammoth undertaking. Even the Food Network stopped by a few years ago to cover the festivities.
The lead-up events to Fancy Farm also provide an array of mouth-watering options. From the Marshall County Bean Supper and the Burgoo & Bluegrass dinner on the Democratic side to the Graves County Breakfast and “Night Before Fancy Farm” fried chicken dinner on the Republican side, both parties offer traditional Kentucky dishes to sate the crowds, along with a generous serving of rhetorical red meat.
For a taste of Fancy Farm, check out the photos below: