Shad Planking fundraiser still relevant

Published 9:51 am Friday, April 19, 2013

The Wakefield Ruritan Club’s annual Shad Planking is known for two things: The fish and the politics. For decades, people have traveled to the event for a bite to eat and to hear potential candidates declare their political intentions.

On Wednesday, for example, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II was the featured speaker. The Republican outlined what he intends to do if elected as the next governor of the Commonwealth.

More to the point, emcee Dr. Stanley A. Brantley Jr. called out The Washington Post for an article published the day before. Political consultant Mo Elleithee was quoted dismissing the event as irrelevant in its political clout.

Elleithee was also noted for his work with Democrats Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe. Kaine apparently took that advice and skipped an appearance at the 2012 shad planking. No matter the reason, the absence didn’t hurt. Kaine still won a place over Republican George Allen — who had attended — in the U.S. senate last year.

While coming to the shad planking won’t guarantee or hurt one’s political chances, we think that candidates should continue to come and connect with the people they claim they want to serve.

We see nothing in Elleithee’s remark that even remotely criticizes the fundraising aspect. But Brantley still took issue. He viewed it as an attack on the club, and said, “When has fundraising become irrelevant? It has not. We intend to continue.”

That’s as it should be.

Even if political candidates never again stepped foot at the event, we believe there would still be plenty of people coming for fellowship, food and fundraising. The Wakefield Ruritan’s biggest event generates money to help individuals in need or support organizations such as volunteer fire/rescue squads and Scouting programs.

There’s nothing wrong with offering people some entertainment and food for such reasons. On the contrary, it’s a noble way to improve one’s neighborhood without asking for a municipal, state or federal handout of any kind.

As long as they’re serving their communities, the Ruritans and all the other civic and social groups should continue to bake, cook or fry.