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Fancy Farm, Kentucky, Where They Don’t Lock Doors

Clydesdale mare and her foal in Fancy Farm, Kentucky.

Belgian mare and her foal in Fancy Farm, Kentucky.

A Quick Stop In The Bluegrass State | Sharon Henry

The sight of cute gangly foals grazing on a haystack compels an impromptu stop along Kentucky Route 80 to jump out the car and take a photo. It’s too adorable a shot of rural America to pass by. We were driving on the western tip of Kentucky, soaking up the countryside and singing along to Blake Shelton, through a place the map calls Fancy Farm.

This sight of the horses gathered around the hay stack caused us to stop in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, and take a closer look.

This sight of the horses gathered around the hay stack caused us to stop in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, and take a closer look.

The early morning Kentucky light made our visit through Fancy Farm quite magical, viewing these beautiful horses.

The early morning Kentucky light made our visit through Fancy Farm quite magical, viewing these beautiful horses.

A few curious faces pop out from the nearby barn and before long we’re chatting to Stephanie Elliott, the farm manager. After hearing our story and although the horses have already been fed, she climbs into the paddock armed with feed to coax them near the camera.

Don’t Let Their Cuteness Fool Ya

The foals are under a week old, the youngest just four days. The mothers are very protective; Stephanie had a close call the previous day when a mare felt she was too close to her colt for comfort and made a run at her. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to die in a field!'” she laughs, “but she was just protecting her baby, it was pure instinct.”

Fancy Farm, Kentucky. This four day old Clydesdale colt was curious but still just a little too nervous to come closer - but very adorable hiding behind his mother.

Fancy Farm, Kentucky. This four day old Belgian colt was curious but still just a little too nervous to come closer – but very adorable hiding behind his mother.

"On the farm we breed the Belgians, we have a mule, walking horses and of course my lovely cats. This one thinks she's a dog," says Stephanie, laughing as she picks up Sally.

“On the farm we breed the Belgians, we have a mule, walking horses and of course my lovely cats. This one thinks she’s a dog,” says Stephanie, laughing as she picks up Sally.

Fancy Farm, Kentucky. Stephanie goes out with some feed to tempt the horses closer for our camera.

Fancy Farm, Kentucky. Stephanie goes out with some feed to tempt the horses closer to our camera.

Kentucky’s nickname is the ‘Bluegrass State’ based on the bluegrass found on many of its pastures due to the fertile soil. The state is renowned for farming and breeding horses.

Horse Breeding – A Labour Of Love

That’s what Stephanie’s farm does; breed Belgium cold-blooded draught horses, “like the Budweiser Clydesdale horses.” They’re sold sometimes for shows and to the Amish community who use them for traditional farming methods.

“It’s something we enjoy doing,” says Stephanie, “we’re not going to make a fortune, but we like having them around.”

It's not surprising that we stopped to admire these beautiful Clydesdale horses in Fancy Farm; Kentucky culture is almost defined by its obsession with horses and there are dedicated visitor farms in other parts of the state.

It’s not surprising that we stopped to admire these beautiful Belgian horses in Fancy Farm; Kentucky culture is almost defined by its obsession with horses and there are dedicated visitor farms in other parts of the state.

"Hello!" One of the Clydesdale horses comes up closer just in case we may have an apple treat!

“Hello!” One of the Belgian horses comes up closer just in case we may have an apple treat!

The Clydesdale horses originate from Clydesdale, Scotland and named after that region. They are used as drum horses by the British Household Cavalry, but perhaps the most famous are the Budweiser Clydesdale horses.

The Belgian horses as similar to the Clydesdale horses that riginate from Clydesdale, Scotland and named after that region. They are used as drum horses by the British Household Cavalry, but perhaps the most famous are the Budweiser Clydesdale horses.

The farm belongs to her parents and has been in the family for six generations. Stephanie loves the sense of community living in Kentucky and is a strong believer in family values having come from a large family.”It’s very family oriented here, it means a lot to us,” she says.

Texas To Kentucky for Hay

Back in the day the farm grew tobacco. “It was good money but the tobacco industry changed. Crops around here are now primarily corn, soya beans, wheat and tobacco.”

The family now rents out a large portion of land although they do grow hay. “We had a guy come all the way from Texas for our hay,” she says. “It’s something to feed the horses in the winter besides grain. When you’ve got a 1,800 lb animal, huh they eat a lot!”

First Telephone In Fancy Farm, Kentucky

The farm house on site is over 100 years old. “We don’t lock our doors. We don’t have a key even if we wanted to!” she says surprising us.

Chatting with Stephanie at the farm, learning all about Fancy Farm, Kentucky and the Clydesdale horses.

Chatting with Stephanie at the farm, learning all about Fancy Farm, Kentucky and the Clydesdale horses.

Fancy Farm water tower. You might have read already about my fascination with US water towers - click here.

Fancy Farm water tower. You might have read already about my fascination with US water towers – click here.

More horses at Fancy Farm, Kentucky.

More horses at Fancy Farm, Kentucky.

Their farm house was the first in the area to have had a telephone, “During the war my great grandparents had all the neighbours coming here waiting for phone calls. My great grandmother was a typical person who wanted to feed you, make sure you were well. She was well known with the hobos for feeding and helping them out. Life was a lot simpler then.

Making A Stand For Kentucky

“I think people from Kentucky get a bad rap sometimes for being a little backwards because we’re rural. People think we’re not we’re very well educated. I mean I have two degrees. Even the ones that don’t have education on paper, they’re still very intelligent people, and they’re caring people. That’s what I love the most about being in a rural area. I never want to leave.”

Inside St Jerome's Catholic Church, Kentucky, this present church dedicated in 1893. St Jerome settlers were mainly descendants of Maryland Catholics from Washington Co., Ky.

Inside St Jerome’s Catholic Church, Kentucky, this present church dedicated in 1893. St Jerome settlers were mainly descendants of Maryland Catholics from Washington Co., Ky.

St Jerome's Catholic Church, Kentucky. This is the third St Jerome church on the site, the original was completed in 1836, the second dedicated in 1858 and the present church in 1893.

St Jerome’s Catholic Church, Kentucky. This is the third St Jerome church on the site, the original was completed in 1836, the second dedicated in 1858 and the present church in 1893.

Fancy Farm is named for the “very well kept fancy farms” in the area. It’s known for its annual picnic started in 1880, hosted by St Jerome’s Catholic Church of which Stephanie is a devout member. “It’s a political gathering and a fund raiser,” Stephanie says. “Last year we made over $200,000 in a day through ticket sales for a Jeep!”

World’s Largest Picnic

In 1985 they were recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest one day picnic when a whopping 15,000lbs of mutton, pork and chicken was consumed at the 1982 event.

Inside St Jerome's Catholic Church, Kentucky, of which Stephanie is a devout member.

Inside St Jerome’s Catholic Church, Kentucky, of which Stephanie is a devout member.

“Our church is going to Jamaica this year on a mission trip,” she tells us. “I can’t go, with all the responsibilities here, but I would love to go to Italy and the Vatican.”

Promising we’ll stop by St Jerome’s church we continue our journey along Kentucky Route 80, and rejoin Blake who’s on the radio again.

Meeting Stephanie in Fancy Farm was the highlight of the Kentucky stage of our USA road trip.

Meeting Stephanie in Fancy Farm was the highlight of the Kentucky stage of our USA road trip.

COMMENTS

  • Walt Metcalf

    July 28, 2017

    if you are from central ky. you probably have relatives there.

  • Carol Curtsinger

    November 24, 2016

    Great Story. It is always good to hear someone else’s opinion of our little town. I was born, reared and still remain in this lovely town. I have always found it odd that when a Fancy Farm native is ask where they are from they often respond, “I live in a small town about 30 miles south of Paducah.” I always say, “I live on a small town in West Ky named Fancy Farm.” I am super proud to be a part of this small, yet large hearted community. Thanks to Stephanie for representing us so well.

    • November 25, 2016

      Thanks so much for your feedback Carol. One of our most memorable days in the US was driving through Fancy Farm and soaking up the beautiful scenery. Meeting Stephanie was a bonus, she did Fancy Farm proud, as well as her cute foals! We too are from a small community, St Helena Island (4000 pop.) and proud off it. Small towns/islands rule!

  • Stephanie Rodgers

    November 26, 2015

    I think it’s really cool to read about home. Although I’m not from Fancy Farm, it is in Graves County, and I am from Graves. I currently live in West Paducah, which is only about a 30 minute trip north of Graves. My entire family is still in Graves, some have always lived in Fancy Farm. My Great Aunt and Uncle, Jimmy and Ruth Ann Thompson just live right down from St. Jerome Church. I love the picnic. You should definitely try it. I also find this read awesome because my maiden name is Stephanie Elliott. Haha. I’ve always been told, though, that I am not related to the Fancy Farm Elliotts. Anyway, thanks for the story.
    -Stephanie Rodgers

    • November 26, 2015

      Thanks for your feedback Stephanie (not related to THE Stephanie!). Kentucky is definitely on our list of places to return to and hopefully we can get many more cool stories from the bluegrass state.

  • catherinegipson(GOATLEY)

    November 25, 2015

    Fancy Farm.I know it well and I should.I was born there and my mom and dads fsmily , those who are still with us. Still reside there.made my 1ST COMMUNION there and have attended many and many of the famous picnics.I love my Fancy Farm

    • November 26, 2015

      Wow that’s great to be born and raised in such lovely part of the states. We’d like to attend that famous Fancy Farm Picnic sometime!

  • November 25, 2015

    Enjoyed this read.My father,Joseph Robert Elliott,was raised in Fancy Farm and in later years returned to live there.

    • November 25, 2015

      Lovely to read your comment Sharon. We’re so glad we made the quick stop at Fancy Farm a truly beautiful area which makes us want to return to Kentucky and explore a bit more. Maybe even add to the annual picnic numbers!

    • Stephanie

      November 25, 2015

      My grandfather is Robert G. Elliott; I will ask him about your father.

      • November 26, 2015

        Hey Stephanie! Thanks for taking the time to chat to us and adding to the charm of Fancy Farm. 🙂

    • Stephanie

      December 6, 2015

      Are you related to Patty?

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