It’s that time of year again

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It’s the third Wednesday in April, which means that, for the 63rd time, lovers of politics and an oily, bony fish will gather for a uniquely Virginian rite of spring — the Shad Planking.

What began in the 1930s as a small celebration of the running of the shad in the James River has turned into an annual celebration of politics in the deep woods south of 460.

Each year, Wakefield Ruritan Club members nail the silvery little fishes to old oak planks and smoke them over an open flame for eight hours. While they wait to dine, 2,000 political junkies rub elbows with the commonwealth’s political dignitaries.

So, too, do candidates make the trek to the Wakefield Sportsman’s Club each year for the opportunity to give away thousands of campaign stickers, beer and face time to would-be voters.

The list of attendees and speakers over the years is a veritable who’s who of Virginia lawmakers and political leaders. Senators, congressmen and governors have all made the event and run the gauntlet.

Former Gov. Mills Godwin was the keynote speaker a record seven times since 1962. Harry Byrd, Doug Wilder and John Warner have also taken the stage. This year’s speaker is Gov. Bob McDonnell.

It’s an event we highly recommend attending at least once. The proceeds from the $25 ticket supports the Ruritans’ many charitable endeavors. The political debate and spectacle are worth at least the price of admission. The beer and stickers are fun, too.

We will, however, stop short of endorsing the fish.