Thousands assemble for Shad Planking

Published 11:26 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shad planking: Gov. Bob McDonnell, the speaker at the 63rd annual shad planking, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling greeted guests and signed autographs after McDonnell’s speech.

A crowd of more than 2,000 gathered Wednesday at Wakefield Ruritan Club’s 63rd annual Shad Planking to talk politics, enjoy beautiful weather and dig into smoked shad.

The event started as a way to kick off the fishing season but has since warped into a premier political function in Virginia.

It was a light year for the function, as no major national political races take place this year.

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Gov. Bob McDonnell, the speaker at the event, gave a light-hearted speech laced with jokes and jabs at his Democratic counterparts.

Noting the bony nature of the shad, McDonnell said if members of Congress had as much backbone as the fish, the country wouldn’t have as many problems.

He also made playful jeers about U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and former Gov. Tim Kaine.

McDonnell briefly mentioned the redistricting for seats in the state Senate, House of Delegates and U.S. Congress. He vetoed a redistricting bill Friday.

“It wasn’t easy vetoing that initial bill,” McDonnell said at the event.

He said he made the decision because he was not comfortable with the bill as it was presented to him.

McDonnell also discussed the tornadoes that tore through Virginia on Saturday and devastated many communities, including Windsor.

“A lot of our fellow Virginians are suffering,” he said. “They have lost their dreams, lost their houses, and six have lost their lives.”

However, McDonnell said it makes him proud that in tough times, Virginians and Americans always band together to help those in need.

For the event, political heavy-hitters and hopefuls set up booths along the path to hand out stickers, buttons and pamphlets for upcoming campaigns.

Warner made an appearance at the planking, along with U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-3rd, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, former Gov. and former Sen. George Allen and many others.

Signs for Allen’s 2012 run for the Republican nomination for Sen. Jim Webb’s seat lined the road leading up to the Wakefield Sportsmen’s Club.

Bolling’s team members handing out beverages at his beer booth also made a statement about his future goals by donning shirts with “lieutenant” crossed out, leaving only “Bolling for governor 2013.”

The shad planking takes place on the third Wednesday in April every year. Shad, an oily, bony fish, is smoked on wooden planks over an open flame throughout the day and served to guests to commemorate the event.

The funds raised from ticket sales support local fire and rescue squads, Little League baseball and scholarships for youth.