The annual Fancy Farm picnic at St. Jerome Catholic Church in Graves County is considered by many the traditional start of the fall campaign season for Kentucky, but Marshall County's Democratic and Republican parties have, for nearly two decades, kicked off the season with the Night Before Fancy Farm. Both parties are reportedly anticipating great attendance this year as long-time rivals Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear, gubernatorial candidate, are expected to attend.

Bevin has, for the past two years, declined invitations to attend the Fancy Farm picnic and openly criticized the event -- but The Courier Journal reports he was listed by event coordinators as a "yes" for confirmed speakers.

Marshall County Republican Party Chairman Danny Holt told The Tribune-Courier "there's a great possibility" Bevin will attend the Night Before Fancy Farm (NBFF) event at Murray State University's Lovett Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Aug. 2.

As is tradition, Holt said, the 17th annual NBFF event is hosted in conjunction with the Murray/Calloway County GOP, and this year features a guest speaker who is "a true American hero."

Rob O'Neill is a Navy SEAL combat veteran who served in more than 400 missions and has been decorated more than 52 times with honor and valor. He is also the co-founder of Your Grateful Nation (a non-profit organization which assists special operations veterans with transitioning into the next phase of their lives/careers) and author of 'The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama Bin Laden and My Years as a Seal Team Warrior."

Holt said most of the Republican nominees vying for seats in November's election plan to attend the event and will be available to mingle and chat, as well as have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the crowd. He said many elected officials currently holding office plan to attend as well, some of whom will be tasked with introductions and presentations.

Tickets are available at the Marshall County Republican Party headquarters Tues.-Thurs. from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., at First Choice FireArms in Murray, online at www.universe.com (enter Murray, KY in search box) or by calling 270-205-0154. Call for Gold Star Family member discounts. General admission is $30 per ticket; special seating is $60 per ticket (limit 300); the VIP experience is $200 apiece and includes a reception, TAP 216 buffet meal, a photo with O'Neill, a personally signed book and VIP event seating (limit 100). As of last week, Holt said the VIP seating was almost completely sold out.

In Marshall County at the Kentucky Dam State Resort Park Convention Center, the Marshall County Democratic Party will host the 24th Annual Mike Miller Democratic Bean Dinner. The doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner begins at 6 p.m.

Marshall County Democratic Party Chairwoman Susanna French said the committee has lined up a "power-packed slate of candidates" who will be in attendance, with Beshear as the featured speaker for the event. The event will also feature former Kentucky Governors Steve Beshear, Martha Layne Collins and Paul Patton.

Beshear is Kentucky's 50th attorney general who previously spent more than a decade in private practice. He has spent his term dedicated to rounding up child predators as well as those preying on seniors, has actively fought the drug epidemic by pushing heroin and fentanyl dealers, as well as provided funding for 15 substance abuse treatment centers through an $8.5 million settlement. He has also actively and openly gone to bat for Kentucky's educators and filed a number of suits against Bevin's administration.

French said in addition to hearing from and being introduced to the candidates for constitutional offices, the local party's committee will also recognize this year's award-winners: Keaton Conner is Young Democrat of the Year, Roger Lents is Democratic Man of the Year and Linda Edwards is Democratic Woman of the Year. She said they will also honor the late Jerry English, former Marshall County Commissioner and Sheriff, who recently passed.

Pre-ordered tickets are $20 apiece, or $25 apiece if purchased at the door. Young Democrats may purchase tickets for $15 apiece. Tickets may be purchased from any member of the Marshall County Democratic Executive Committee or through the Facebook event. For more information contact Susanna French at 270-205-1316.

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