By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –Perhaps it’s more than appropriate that a judge will preside over this year’s political program at the 134th annual Fancy Farm picnic that is expected to generate heated rhetoric.
The duties of emcee this year at the event that traditionally kicks off fall campaigns in the Bluegrass State will fall to Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham of Lyon County.
With the U.S. Senate candidates – Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes — front and center for a picnic that’s expected to attract the national media, moderating at this year’s political speaking may be a tricky business.
“I’m really humbled to do it,” said Cunningham in a phone interview Monday. “I look at it as rubbing shoulders with history.”
Mark Wilson, who coordinates the picnic’s political program with his wife, Lori Wilson, said Cunningham was invited last week to emcee the program.
“He’s a good one because he knows the area and history of Fancy Farm and what it takes to preside over an event,” he said.
The annual Fancy Farm Picnic is held on the first Saturday of August on the grounds of St. Jerome’s Parish in Graves County. This year’s picnic will be Aug. 2. The political speaking begins at 2 p.m. CDT.
Cunningham, 69, was elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court in November 2006 to represent Western Kentucky’s 1st Appellate District. He is a former circuit judge, Eddyville city attorney, Commonwealth’s attorney and public defender for the Kentucky State Penitentiary.
Cunningham earned his bachelor’s degree from Murray State University in 1962 and his law degree in 1969 from the University of Kentucky. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served in Korea, Germany, and Vietnam and has written several books about Western Kentucky history.