When the politicians left the grounds of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Fancy Farm last Saturday, some of them left their signs behind.
Billy Mills woke up about 5:45 a.m. Saturday and found his yard on Ky. 80 was lined at the roadside with signs for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear.
"They were like two feet apart all the way in my yard, all the way from one end to the other," he said.
Although some were in the public right-of-way, others were as much as 15 feet into the yard and clearly on his property, he said.
Mills happened to see the people who were putting up the signs just down the road at the Chek Mart convenience store, so he pulled in to talk with them. Later, he said, his wife also had words with them.
"I said go get those signs out of my yard," Mills said. "I don't want them in my yard. They just kind of blew me off. I waited about 10 minutes, and they didn't come get them, so me and my son picked them up and counted them. It was 107."
Mills said one of his neighbors noticed campaign representatives putting the signs out about 4 a.m. Saturday. They returned to pick them up after the picnic, but Mills wasn't waiting that long. He threw them in the trashcan.
It wasn't just county residents with unwanted signs, however. William Higginson, code enforcement supervisor for the City of Mayfield, said his phone started ringing off the hook last weekend.
"A lot of signs were put in yards without the owners' permission," he said.
While most candidates picked them back up afterward, including all local candidates, Higginson said, some just left them there.
City crews picked up around 15 or 20 signs for both Democrat and Republican candidates within the city limits, including those for Gov. Matt Bevin, Greg Stumbo, Sheri Donahue, Michael Adams and Whitney Westerfield, and have stored them for now. Representatives for the candidates need to call City Hall and talk to Higginson to arrange to pick them up.
He noted that other callers lived outside the city limits, so the city is not responsible for those.
While some signs were along the public right-of-ways, especially along Ky. 80 on the edge of Mayfield, going toward Fancy Farm, some were farther up in yards, Higginson said. Others were placed in the yard of the vacant former Huddle House restaurant on Paris Road. There were as many as 10 to 15 signs placed in one Mayfield yard without permission, although many had far less, he said.
One woman called to complain that a sign put up overnight impeded the path she needed to take to get from her home to her vehicle, Higginson said.
After Mills complained, a woman representing herself as one of the organizers for Beshear in Graves County reached out to his daughter, Kinsey Mills, with whom she had gone to school previously.
Kinsey Mills forwarded a reporter the message from Emily Cornwell, which said that the organizers "in no way intended to infringe on anyone or cause more work with anyone with our signs. Besides signs that were specifically placed on properties of supporters who asked for them, all signs should've been placed in the public right-of-ways in the area directly off the side of the highways or in intersections."
Cornwell apologized in the message and stressed that the campaign picked up all the signs left over immediately after the picnic. She added, "While we were out, we did have a couple of people ask that we not put the signs in the public space near their homes, and we respected that and did not place signs there."
Mills said this was not his experience or his wife's, and it's a first for them in 24 years living in their home.
"Nobody has ever put a sign in my yard without asking before," he said.
Mills said he usually looks forward to the picnic, which is often a homecoming for Fancy Farm residents as well as a fundraiser for the parish.
"It completely ruined my picnic," he said. "I woke up excited" before seeing the signs, he said. Then after seeing them, "For probably three hours, I was just in a stew."
He said it wasn't even about the politics. He looked at the sign placements as an intrusion onto his property.
"I didn't care who it was, the politician," he said. "It's just nobody asked me."
Eric Hyers, campaign manager for the Beshear/Coleman campaign did not address the situation with Mills specifically in an emailed response. In general, he praised the enthusiasm at the St. Jerome Fancy Farm Picnic and lambasted Republicans' showing there.
Concerning the signs, he said, "Our grassroots team made every effort to ensure that signs were put up on supporters' property and public spaces -- and made sure that signs were picked up after the event was over. We appreciate the hospitality and overwhelming show of support from so many in the community."