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Aug 5, 2011 01:46 PM

Best Church Picnic Barbecued Mutton?

When I first came to Kentucky, I took the long journey at the beginning of August to the Fancy Farm picnic. As I trust all Kentuckians know, Fancy Farm is a church picnic in far western Kentucky that marks the beginning of the political season. While the political rhetoric is certainly entertaining, it was the barbecue that interested me far more. At that Fancy Farm picnic many years ago I became a convert to the joys of barbecue mutton: more flavorful than either pork or beef, and if properly cooked, plenty tender.
Since then, I've been to Owensboro, and sampled the BBQ mutton at the famous Moonlite Inn and other local establishments, but it seems to me that they didn't measure up to the mutton at Fancy Farm.
More recently, I've learned that Fancy Farm is just one of dozens of church picnics that take place in the summer in Western Kentucky. My question is: How good is the mutton at these picnics? Is there one that stands above the others? And how do they feel about "outsiders" coming to their picnics?

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  1. Sorry I can't answer your question. I grew up in SW Kentucky (Hopkinsville) and really like bbq mutton. I live on the West Coast now and a few years ago ordered from Moonlight for a Derby Party and was really dissappointed - I chalked it up to having it shipped, but it was not the BBQ I remembered. Where was this "church picnic"? I have never heard of it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: libstewart

      Fancy Farm is a town in far western Kentucky (near Mayfield and Paducah) where a
      Catholic church (St. Jerome, I believe) holds a picnic every year in early August that marks the beginning of the Fall political season. There’s an all-you-can-eat buffet at this picnic, during which they serve (literally) tons of barbecued meats, mutton first among them.
      However, there are supposed to be dozens of these church picnics during the Summer in
      Western Kentucky, mostly around Owensboro. Some of these, I know, compete in the “International Barbeque Festival” in Owensboro, but I can’t seem to find any mention of who wins and whether these church picnics are worth the trip…or even if they’re open to outsiders. Having missed Fancy Farm this year (it took place last weekend), this is what I’m currently trying to learn.

      1. re: libstewart

        Moonlight was cooking onsite for a Derby Party at Maker's Mark I attended a few years ago and it was excellent. Perhaps therein lies the difference. Onsite catering.