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Matt Bevin's Inauguration Will Stick With Tradition — For The Most Part


On Tuesday, Matt Bevin will be sworn in as the 62nd governor of Kentucky.  His inauguration will include an early morning worship service, cannon fire signaling the start of a two-hour parade, a public swearing-in ceremony and a “grand march” in the state capitol rotunda.

Event organizers say veterans will play a key role in the parade, and the official ceremonies will be “laid back” in a style to reflect that Gov.-elect Bevin is a “casual-type guy.”

As part of state tradition, a delegation of Frankfort citizens will present the incoming governor’s family with a platter of stone-beaten biscuits and country ham. Kentucky historian Ron Bryant said the custom dates back at least 100 years, when an outgoing first lady left a baked ham, cake and a platter of biscuits for her successor.

“They make it a big deal, it’s kind of a ceremony now, they do it with some pomp and circumstance,” Bryant said, though he doubts that the new first family actually eats the biscuits. “If you’ve ever had a beaten biscuit that’s gotten old, it’ll break your teeth.”

There are other aged traditions in the official swearing-in ceremony.

Bevin will have to swear off dueling — a requirement of all public officials and lawyers licensed to practice in the state. That oath is required by a provision in the state constitution dating back to the 19th century, when dueling was common practice in the South and beyond.

Bryant said it was a practical solution because of the high number of people getting shot — many of them statesmen like famed Kentucky politician Henry Clay.

“So they said, 'All right, if you’re going to serve in an elected capacity or official capacity in state government, you cannot have fought a duel, you cannot have served as a second, or you could not even have participated in one of any kind or you would be disqualified from public office,'” Bryant said.

One tradition that won’t be included in this year’s inauguration is the inaugural ball, which is traditionally open to the public.

“That was just a big event and everybody looked forward to it, but that’s another tradition that’s kind of gone by the wayside this time,” Bryant said.

Bevin will instead have an invite-only “Boots and Bells" concert that will feature three members of the rock band Exile — originally formed in Richmond, Ky. — and a to-be-disclosed headliner.

The event is reserved for “major supporters of the Bevin-Hampton campaign and the inaugural donors that are making this inauguration possible,” said Kelly Knight, a Republican fundraiser and chair of Bevin’s inauguration committee.

“We thought it would be less formal; Matt’s not a black-tie type of guy,” Knight said. “So we thought this would be a great reflection on Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton.”

Bevin's inauguration parade will feature several notable public figures, including Iraq War hero Dakota Meyer — a Kentucky native who was awarded the Medal of Honor — bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs, and Kentucky governors Steve Beshear, Ernie Fletcher, Paul Patton, Brereton Jones, John Y. Brown Jr. and Martha Layne Collins.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.