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Posts Tagged ‘Rockingham County Fair’

Paul Ryan in Rockingham County
Photo by Helen Shibut

Paul Ryan, the Republican Representative for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and Mitt Romney’s running mate, made a campaign stop at the Rockingham County Fair Grounds on Friday.  His visit marks the first of any presidential or vice presidential candidate to the central Shenandoah Valley.

Besides Representative Ryan, speakers also included: Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, and Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke.

The event itself was quite well attended.  Most estimates I’ve read peg the audience about 3,000.  Like the recent Obama rally in Charlottesville, each person had to pass through “airport style security” overseen by both the Secret Service and the TSA.

Reaction to the gathering was mixed.  Although most of the people that I spoke with enjoyed Ryan’s speech, the event was plagued with a number of shortfalls.

First, no one could bring in liquids, which was expected.  However, the fact that one could not even get a cup of water without paying for it seemed completed absurd.  Would a person have to suffer through their thirst if he or she could not pay $2.00 for a beverage?

A view of a portion of the crowd and the fence that segregated attendees.

Second, the venue did not allow for a majority of the spectators to see Paul Ryan.  The organizers set up a ring of fences around the platform and only a portion could enter this circle.  Although raised, the platform was not nearly high enough for many people to even catch a glimpse of the man who could very well be our next vice president.

However, one positive aspect, as compared to the Obama event, was that the police did not close down traffic in a highly central location for the better part of an hour, which would have wasted the time of countless residents.

Overall, I would rate Ryan’s event a success even though, as mentioned, there were several aspects that could have been and should have been handled in a better manner.

So the next question is will any of the five presidential candidates: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Jill Stein, make a stop in the Shenandoah Valley between now and the election?  If you will recall, four years ago Barack Obama won the city of Harrisonburg after making a speech at JMU while John McCain merely sent a relative to the local GOP headquarters.  After all, personal campaigning is an important element to electoral success and Ryan’s visit on Friday should serve to bolster the local Republican effort.  Now how will the other candidates respond?  Our first answer comes tomorrow when Libertarian Party candidate Judge Jim Gray speaks at JMU.

As a final note, I want to shout out a special thanks to Helen Shibut of Madison Liberty for the picture of Paul Ryan.  As mentioned, I happened to be one of the countless spectators who could not get close enough to get a usable shot.

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Last night, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Rockingham County Fair.  The fair, of course, is many things to many people: a social gathering, a plethora of rides, a sampling of good food, a chance to see a multitude of farm animals, a concert, a tractor pull, and a demolition derby.  For me, the fair is another opportunity to promote my political ideology (no great surprise there, huh?).  Therefore, like I’ve done on and off since 1995, I volunteered at the Republican booth.

Speaking of politics, I guess the highlight had to be a visit from Governor Bob McDonnell.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see him myself.  Nevertheless, I did manage to get a handful of pictures of other things.

Throughout the night, the Republican Party booth was a hotbed of activity.  Many folks were drawn to promise of free balloons and a raffle.  One could find materials on about a dozen candidates and there were a multitude of colorful bumper stickers and yard signs.  You could even sign a petition to get Rick Perry on the ballot for the 2012 GOP primary.

Elected officials and hopefuls who I saw at the booth include:  Bryan Hutcheson (candidate for Sheriff), Delegate Todd Gilbert (15-Woodstock), Delegate Dickie Bell (2o-Staunton), Senator Mark Obenshain (26-Harrisonburg), Todd Garber (Treasurer for Rockingham), Ted Byrd (Harrisonburg City Council), Lowell Barb (Commissioner of Revenue for Rockingham), Bill Kyger (Rockingham County Board of Supervisors), and Karen Kwiatkowski (candidate for the House of Representatives in the 6th district).

By comparison, things seemed a bit slow at the Democratic table.  Given that they have no candidates for the Virginia General Assembly, their main focus appeared to be promoting Tim Kaine for Senator in 2012.  Although I won’t claim to have stayed at their table long, I didn’t see any elected officials there.

Outside the exhibition hall one could find a tent for Independent Sheriff candidate C.M Hess.  They seemed to enjoy steady traffic.  I’m very much looking forward to the Sheriff forum being held by the local tea party.  You can find more details on that event here in the near future.

Overall, the fair seemed to be a well-attended event.  There were a multitude of vendors, both food and otherwise,  and there was quite a bit to see and do.  I hear that the Beach Boys are returning for another concert this coming Friday.

The Rockingham County Fair never fails to impress, so, whether you happen to be interested in politics or not, I recommend you head over to check it out before it disappears until next year.

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Well, with the summer winding down, fair season is in the air.  This week, Augusta County is holding their annual festival.  In every year past, I have attended the Rockingham County Fair and skipped the one to the south.  However, as I’m still in the city of Staunton, I figured that I might as well experience theirs while I am so close.

My first stop inside was the Republican Party booth.  As is the case back at home, a fair serves as an excellent opportunity to spread information about candidates and causes that many attendees might not hear otherwise.  Standing in front of the table was Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Staunton).  Besides folks running for city and county offices, I could also find information on Delegate Cline and Delegate Landes.  However, short of a few signs, there was nothing for Senator Emmett Hanger.  This fact might seem odd, but given that Delegate Bell is the only member of the General Assembly in the entire Shenandoah Valley who faces a Democratic opponent, I guess Senator Hanger didn’t want to spend any money to campaign.  Perhaps the greatest surprise was the stack of bumper stickers and brochures from former Senator George Allen.  Although the 2012 primary is a good way off, it never hurts to remind people that you are running.

In general, I found the Augusta Fair to be a bit disappointing when compared to Rockingham.  Although all of the display booths are rented already in Rockingham, this fair had numerous empty spots in the exhibition hall.  There wasn’t even a Democratic table.  Also, the layout was pretty poor.  At the entrance, they force attendees down a certain path, like rats in a maze.  As a whole, the grounds aren’t as large and don’t offer as wide a range of activities and vendors.  I’ll freely admit that the bear show was an amusing (and free) aspect, but, overall, the fair lack pizzazz. Then again, prior to today, I’ve only been to two other fairs.  Perhaps the grandeurs of Rockingham County and Münster (Germany) have spoiled me.  After all, according to Wikipedia, The LA Times has rated the Rockingham County Fair as one of the best rural fairs in the country.

Therefore, my recommendation is to visit the Augusta Fair if you get the chance, but, if you can only attend one, make sure not to miss Rockingham.

Now that I’ve hyped it, we’ll have to see what the Rockingham Fair holds in store in the coming days.  For those politophiles out there, I hear that the Governor will be coming to that event in the early part of next week.  I’ll try to snag some pictures.

Until then!

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Growing up, I always enjoyed the Rockingham County Fair.  What kid wouldn’t enjoy the rides, the attractions, the food, the animals…and the politics?  Ok, so maybe not every teenager cares about our government, but as you already know, I was a bit different.  Anyway, each year the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Republican Parties operate a booth at the fair to bring a little bit of the political world to the average citizens of the community.  Every year I volunteered here once I became involved.  More than anything else, I enjoyed standing behind that table handing out information to folks who stopped by, mingling with fellow conservatives.  It was not a high-pressure sales job, but rather a chance to share a bit of our ideals, to shed light on this neglected facet of our society.

Although I didn’t have much time to offer, I still gave about an hour this past week to continue my ritual.  Below are a few photographs of the event.  They are pretty self-explanatory.  The last few are of the cow-kissing contest in which several public figures competed to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  Hosting the event was Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Matt Lohr.  In all, there were five people competing, including newly minted Delegate Tony Wilt (R-26) and Daily News Record Writer and author of the Bowser Bucket List, Heather Bowser.  Thanks to these people who donated their time to such a worthy cause.

Maybe you can join us next year.

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