Shad Planking tickets on sale

Published 10:26 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

The traditional shad smokes on wooden planks at the 2010 Wakefield Ruritan Club Shad Planking. Tickets are on sale now for this year’s event, traditionally a political affair.

Gov. Bob McDonnell will be the keynote speaker at the 2011 Shad Planking.

This is the 63rd annual coming of Virginia’s premier political event, where politicians gather to shake hands, make speeches and eat good food.

Sponsored by the Wakefield Ruritan Club, the Shad Planking will be held on April 20 at 2 p.m.

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“Governor McDonnell has been a long-time supporter of the Wakefield Ruritan Club’s Shad Planking and has drawn significant crowds at his previous appearances,” said event chairman Robert W. Bain. “We look forward to having him deliver the keynote address this year.”

McDonnell has attended the Shad Planking twice before — in 2006 as attorney general and in 2009 during his gubernatorial campaign. He was inaugurated in 2010 as Virginia governor.

The Shad Planking traces its origins to the early 1930s, when a group of friends gathered together at Wrenn’s Mill in Isle of Wight County during the spring running of the shad in the James River. They cooked shad after the tradition of the Virginia Indians and talked politics. As the tradition grew, the Wakefield Ruritan Club assumed sponsorship of the event in 1949.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 6:30 p.m., rain or shine. The formal program will begin at 4 p.m.

The meal will be served when it’s ready. The menu, as always, features the planked shad cooked over an open fire, as well as the Virginia Diner’s famous cole slaw and corn muffins. In addition, there will be fried shad roe and fish filets, sweet pickles, iced tea and other beverages.

Generations of Virginia politicians have attended and addressed the Shad Planking gathering. Such legendary figures as Suffolk’s own Mills Godwin, Harry Byrd Sr. and Harry Byrd Jr., John Warner, Doug Wilder, Mark Warner and others have attended in past years.

All earnings from the event are donated to local community service organizations such as the Wakefield Youth Baseball League, fire departments and rescue squads.

Tickets are available through the Virginia Diner in Wakefield by calling 1-800-935-4004 or through the Ruritan Club by mail at P.O. Box 148, Wakefield, VA 23888. Credit cards are accepted at the Diner and on the Shad Planking website. Tickets are $25. For more information, call 757-641-8060, email, or visit